7 Steps to Becoming a Leadership Hit Squad

Capable people, who walk in the shadows, represent wasted, untapped potential.

Leadership hit squads target the overlooked and under-utilized for greater more fulfilling involvement.

The target for leaders is developing leaders.



First, have “good” gossip sessions about under-utilized people who may be young, quiet, inexperienced, or stuck.

Good gossip sessions:

  1. Target those in transition. Think of someone who is newly married, in their 50’s, or who went through a traumatic experience in the past 18 months.
  2. Gossip about what they could be. Go with your gut.
  3. Rise above negative assumptions and judgments.

Second, engage with them casually. Go to them. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Listen for what makes them tick. Don’t ask for something.

Third, ask other leaders to engage with “the target” in casual ways. Take your time. Don’t overwhelm!

Fourth, have more “good” gossip sessions. Is the target rising up or pulling back?

Fifth, provide short-term opportunities. Say, “I was wondering if you’d like to be involved in our short-term community service project,” for example. Explore opportunities that align with their interests.

Sixth, stay engaged on a casual basis and monitor trajectory. Are they lighting up? If yes, explore aspirations. Ask:

  1. How can we get you doing more of what you love?
  2. What frustrates you about our company? If you had the power, how would you fix that?
  3. Which of your talents or skills are under-utilized?

Seventh, tell them they were targeted by the hit squad.

  1. Explain that you believe they have more in them.
  2. Tell them you are committed to them.
  3. Don’t pressure, ignite.
  4. Make it about them, not you.
  5. Explore next steps.
  6. Monitor their trajectory.
  7. Stay open to surprises and hiccups.

Elevating engagement requires your engagement.

How can leaders ignite and maximize under-utilized people?