Shoulder Tapping

Shoulder Tapping

Sep 21, 2015 By (Bio) One Comment

I recently read the book, “My Calling to Fulfill,” by John E. Sharp. The book is about Orie O. Miller who led Mennonite work in education, mission, peacemaking, and mental health. He developed most of the major Mennonite agencies that exist today, including Mennonite Central Committee, Eastern Mennonite Missions, and Goshen College.

Miller had many talents, one being his unique ability to spot leadership talent in others. Several weeks ago I was talking about the book with a former work colleague. He was in his first year of a pre-med program in college when Miller suggested he become the administrator of a hospital in Africa that Mennonite missionaries had begun. This led my former colleague away from a career in medicine to a life-changing experience serving in an underprivileged area for more than 15 years.

Reflecting on my own career path, I realize that several persons influenced me as I chose a college major and then assumed leadership positions in several church and social service agencies, and now as a consultant with North Group. I am grateful for the guidance I received from these individuals.

Leaders need “talent radar” that spots ability and potential in others. Talent radar looks for five key indicators in others:

  • The right kind of motivation: a fierce commitment to excel in the pursuit of unselfish goals
  • Curiosity: a penchant for seeking new experiences, knowledge, and candid feedback, as well as openness to learning and change
  • Insight: the ability to gather and make sense of information that suggests new possibilities
  • Engagement: a knack of using emotion and logic to communicate a persuasive vision and connect with people
  • Determination: the wherewithal to fight for difficult goals despite challenges, and the ability to bounce back from adversity

As a leader, how do you rate your ability to assess talent in others? Are there persons in your life right now who might benefit from some timely shoulder tapping?

One Response to “Shoulder Tapping”

  1. Keith Blank says:


    Thanks . . a very helpful reminder of the “power of influence” with a timely word of counsel/encouragement. In many ways it seems like we’ve lost this “gift” in the church. Why? Maybe out of a fear of being perceived as controlling or misusing power. Thanks again!

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