The Untapped Resource

by Frank Koehler

Does the work you give to employees challenge them sufficiently? If not, you may be wasting their hidden talents and potential to solve problems for your business. 

why you should challenge employees
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Part of being human is to be innately gifted with a potent but typically inactive reserve of talent, courage, creativity, genius, tenacity, power, and energy.


These inactive strengths and talents can quickly become vibrantly energized when events disrupt, challenge, or threaten our safety, our family, our values, our possessions, our livelihood, or the pattern of our lives that we have become accustomed to.

This reserve provides the physical strength to react to danger in flight-or-fight situations, the emotional strength to deal with great personal injury or loss, the motivation to persevere in spite of a major tragedy, and exceptional coping skills for managing extreme trauma.

This talent reserve can also be instinctively activated in response to an inspiration to achieve a deeply meaningful goal.

The talent reserve is an innate condition of who we are as human beings, so it goes with us into our profession and our work.

If we perceive employment as a wage to pay bills, and we are required to comply with job description and corporate norms, we can meet those requirements with our conventional skills and the talent reserve remains unchallenged and dormant.


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There is one set of conditions at work that awakens and activates the talent reserve for every underutilized high potential employee (UHPE).

That set of conditions is a challenging task that provides the employee an opportunity to make a difference that matters, and he/she is part of an elite task force team to achieve that, and there is a collaborative environment on the team.

Management can make the achievement of crucial corporate objectives almost as meaningful to small teams of UHPEs as winning the Stanley Cup is to a hockey player or receiving a Super Bowl championship ring is to a professional football player.

The managerial method for awakening and utilizing a powerful collective talent reserve that is already paid for, but unutilized, is to select a small number of UHPEs, empower them to achieve a crucial task, train them in high performance collaboration and innovation skills, provide them with the permissions, resources, and support they need to achieve that objective, and then get out of their way while they do it.

In summary, compliance is an effective managerial tool to control employees and consistently achieve mediocrity. Empowered collaboration for elite teams pursuing meaningful tasks is a dynamic managerial tool for unleashing a previously dormant reserve of talent, creativity, and genius that will consistently produce breakthrough innovation and stunning performance on vital corporate objectives.

Frank Koehler is an executive consultant specializing in crisis intervention, innovation, and rapid achievement of vital corporate objectives. He developed a non-combat adaptation of Military Special Forces as the vehicle for accomplishing extreme performance in those three areas. Visit his website at

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