I love to sit and watch talent shows on television, and this year a group of young men called Collabro appeared on screen. Their day jobs included being a labourer, shop assistant, restaurant worker and hospital attendant.

The amateur group came together to give an outstanding performance of songs from the hit musical ‘Les Miserables’ that took the audience by storm and reduced at least one of the judges to tears. The emotional impact of an unknown talent becoming public can release extraordinary energy from an audience empathising with the performers.

What does it take to transport either an individual or a group from a point of obscurity to a high-profile image on stage? A few weeks ago, this group was completely unknown. Fast-forward two months, with exposure on prime-time television, their name is now on everyone’s lips. Their lives have changed forever as they enjoy the spotlight.

Watching the audience applaud this new group makes me think of the untapped talent that we all have but never use. We have ideas and dreams, but we keep them to ourselves so they never become reality. Years later, we often see our ideas come to fruition through someone else and we sit back and say, ‘I thought of that years ago!’

Maybe you did, but the person who made it happen was the person who had the drive and motivation to take it from an idea on a piece of paper to a tangible product or service.

Realistically, you can obtain increased creativity and energy from your workforce, if you can identify and encourage the latent talent within your organisation that is, at present, a lost resource. Most people just turn up for work and do the job they are paid to do and little encouragement is given for them to think outside the box.

In fact, in many organisations, new ideas and initiatives are actually discouraged. This is particularly true in organisations established years ago where methods of working are cast in concrete and where there is no space or opportunity to modernise and exploit new technologies and methods of working.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. There are ways to access that hidden resource and to increase motivation and creativity from the very people who already work for you.

Do you encourage new initiatives and ideas regarding production, sales or marketing? Do you regularly assess your employees to ascertain who could take more responsibility by working at a higher level? Do you offer incentives of any kind, financial or otherwise, to encourage your staff to increase productivity and efficiency? Are you aware of the potential in widening and extending comfort zones?

Comfort zones: Many team members and individuals like to stay within their comfort zones and it can take a good deal of encouragement to get them to stretch their boundaries. It can be uncomfortable at first, but with support, coaching and training, they can move beyond their self-limiting beliefs and continue to grow both personally and professionally.

Likes and dislikes: Discovering what someone likes to do outside of the workplace can give you some idea of what hidden talent may be lying below the surface. I was speaking to a web designer in our IT department and I asked him what he liked to like do when he went home. He told me that he liked to write articles and blogs — so when a position in my company became vacant I called him, and now he is one of our freelance writers — with an income 30 per cent higher than earlier.

We all have the capability to do more than we think we can, but sometimes we need someone, or something, to be the catalyst to make it happen. We also need to be open to exploiting our natural abilities to the full. Just imagine how much poorer our world would have been if Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Usain Bolt or Christiano Ronaldo had decided just to stay in bed instead of showing us how to change the way we work and play ...


Key points

* We all have latent talent within us.

* Potential needs to be recognised and exploited.

* Expand boundaries to achieve a competitive advantage.


The writer is CEO of an international stress management consultancy and author of ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’.