Although true hidden leaders possess all four key qualities, no one leader is a perfect example of any given characteristic. Many people will have demonstrated integrity (the most crucial characteristic) and be strong in one or two other areas. These possible leaders will never live up to their potential without developing the missing characteristics. Budding hidden leaders with only three of the characteristics typically fall into the following categories:
*The short-term visionary: These employees lead through relationships and focus on results but are not customer purposed. They are good at getting things done, but often make decisions that address short-term issues that might not ultimately be good for the customer. However, managers can foster a customer-purposed attitude in these employees.
*The “busywork-er”: Workers who have excellent relationships with others and a focus on the customer but fail to work in accordance with the big picture are busywork-ers. They may have their priorities confused because management has not clearly outlined company goals. A focus on results can be learned with structural support and clear guidance on goals.
*The lone wolf: Those who have an understanding of the big picture and a desire to get results for customers but have no interest in fostering internal relationships are lone wolves. They can produce great work for a company but are unlikely to develop into hidden leaders. When an employee cannot smoothly interact with others across an organization, it can affect whether his or her ideas get implemented and whether issues for customers get resolved. An organization that has too many lone wolves may have a culture that does not value the importance of developing relationships.
Although hidden leaders rarely display only one of the key characteristics (beyond integrity), there are cases in which one overshadows the rest. An employee who focuses on leading through relationships can be seen as “the nice guy” who cannot get things done. Those who have a zealous focus on results are “drivers” who can wreak havoc on others. “Warriors” put too much emphasis on doing the right thing for the customer, even at the expense of the organization. These types of employees could possibly be trained to become hidden leaders, especially if they already hold management positions. Above all, however, an employee must demonstrate integrity to become a hidden leader. This is the one characteristic that cannot be taught.