Talented Leaders Off the Radar ScreenI am absolutely passionate about the Masterful Coaching 360 process. I have already waxed on in other blogs how the MC 360 process is specifically designed for executives, is based on 360 interviews versus “check the box,” and produces an alteration vs. an assessment.

Here I would like to focus on how I’ve used the MC 360 interview process to both discover stellar leadership talent often hidden in an organization, as well as to advocate for that talent. Ironically, I have learned by direct observation that in many organizations, the leaders with the greatest potential are often totally off the radar program at corporate headquarters.

A few years ago, I was hired by a Fortune 500 company located in Chicago to help develop their high potential leaders, starting with our program “Leaders Must Become Game Changers,” which included Masterful Coaching Skills.

I met a Jeff Jones, a 40-something Country Manager in the European region, and established a one-to-one coaching relationship with him for a year. Interestingly enough, Jeff was not on the corporate high potentials list or part of any formal leadership development initiative.

I had a gut feeling from the beginning that Jeff had CEO potential and was convinced he would show up as a game-changer in almost any situation. When I started doing the 360 feedback, I realized that there was something wrong with this picture.

As impressed as I was, the top brass at the home office in Chicago barely knew of him. It’s not just that he wasn’t recognized for the star potential that he had, he wasn’t even on their radar screen. He was just another Country Manager.

Yet, the more I talked to Jeff’s immediate boss and direct reports, the more I began to think in terms of using the 360 process, not just to give feedback to Jeff to improve himself as a leader, but also to use it to help him make his mark in the organization.

I set up some skip level 360 interviews with the top brass in which I not only asked questions, but also took the opportunity to talk about how stellar a leader Jeff Jones really was, someone who should be on the organization’s fast track.

People were taken aback, as sometimes in big organizations many tend to have a cynical attitude toward just about anyone. One little mistake, as innocuous disagreeing with the boss at a meeting five years ago can follow one around for life.

Over the next year, I helped Jeff formulate three EBI’s (enterprise breakthrough projects) for his region. One involved “game changer” innovation, another customer engagement, a third Six Sigma.

The projects were so successful that they were adopted by the whole company. Jeff Jones was now fully on the company radar screen, and over the next 3 to 4 years, he not only got one promotion, but three. He also doubled, tripled, and quadrupled his combined salary and stock options.

Today Jeff has become the CEO of another Fortune 500 company. Not bad for a guy that wasn’t even on the radar screen a few years earlier. Like many people who participate in the MC 360, he says that process was the smartest thing he ever did.


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