Industry Update
Opinion Article20 September 2016

The Great Leader Right Under Your Nose

...never take your existing employees for granted

By Steve DiGioia

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The schoolyard created natural leaders. They were the ones that chose the teams. They were the first ones at bat, their friends sided with their opinions and they led the way with their rebellious streak. You can spot them a mile away.


In business it's not always that easy to find a leader.

Sure, we always hear about Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, et al. We easily recognize these titans of business and how their leadership has guided their companies to prosperity.

But what about the great leader right under your nose?

To fill that vacant leadership/management position we search through resume after resume for the perfect applicant. We try hard to entice the high performers from our competition. We contact headhunters and willingly spend top dollar to find the best available candidate.

Then, when that newly hired superstar disappoints, we wonder why...

"He was the best candidate that we interviewed by far! I wonder what went wrong". "It turns out he really isn't a good fit for our culture". "He's taking too long to adapt to our ways of doing things, I don't think he's going to work out".

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Today's immediate society creates falsehoods of a quick fix. But what about the great leader right under your nose?

He/she comes in everyday with a positive attitude and a smile. No need to motivate her. She knows her job and does so with little coaxing or prodding to perform. Heck, she usually does more than we need or expect. Plus, she already knows all the policies and procedures and never steps out of line.

Always willing to lend a hand, even if not asked, she easily is the model of a team player. Your customers like her and she has earned the respect of fellow employees. With an even temper and mature demeanor she has done more to assist you in times of need than you can ever count. Why not promote her?

This is not a discussion of promoting a woman versus a man, no not at all. But I do want to point out that we should never discount the leadership capabilities of an existing employee over one hired from outside.

"But he/she has never shown any leadership skills so far". That may be right but have you placed that employee in a position to do so in the first place? Maybe not.

Upper management that micromanage their employees never find a reason to promote from within. Unless their first objective is salary, the in-house employee is never looked at as being as qualified as someone, with the same basic skill set, from outside.

"You haven't seen all I can do", said your longtime great employee passed over for a promotion. And that's true. Have you listened to or put into effect any of her recommendations? Have you included her in future planning or "big picture" discussions? Are you willing to trust the judgement of her versus an outsider?

If you answer no then hire that stranger from the headhunter.

If you want to fill that leadership position with a proven performer that has shown his/her ability to adapt, think out of the box and "make things happen" then reconsider those from within.

You'll be glad you did!


Steve DiGioia

A customer service trainer, coach, author and speaker, Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.

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