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Hunting the dragon: Finding untapped potential

Hunting the dragon: Finding untapped potential

Dragons are asleep in every leading company and, in this the auspicious Year of the Dragon, it’s a great time to wake them. A sleeping dragon is an employee who is an entrepreneur-in-waiting – waiting for the right time to leave.

Often we don’t know about them because we don’t hunt them. The big opportunity is to search out these beasts and then harness their power energy and talent for the company for as long as you can.

For tips on how it is done, check out the reality show Dragon’s Den, where wannabe and could-be entrepreneurs pitch for investments to three fiery multimillionaires. The “Master Dragons” make deals every week on the show. The few best contestants, who win the attention of the Master Dragons, must do deals in bare minutes and the pressure and excitement is palpable.

The Master Dragons, even as they consider investing their small change (up to £100,000), treat every deal seriously. The sparse economy of their questions is noteworthy. The series, which is on for the next few months, offers great lessons both for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders contemplating how to channel their corporate dragons’ power.  (I’m a fan, but then I was born in the Year of the Dragon).

Here are a few more tips:

  • Ask around: “Who has a long-term aspiration to run their own business?” “Who wants to make a difference and get rich in the process?” Entrepreneurs think ahead, and most will tell you.

  • Test their talent. There are instruments to tease out the best from the rest.

  • Once you’ve found your dragons, work on career paths, projects and increased responsibility that offer energising steps toward their aspirations and better payoffs for your company.

  • When there is common ground, negotiate, and drive a hard bargain. They love a deal.

Another group that leading companies love are the I-Dragons – also known as intrapreneurs. They are employees with a good, possibly big idea that can help your business. These are easy to find if you have any sort of suggestion scheme in place.

You can get the best of all worlds if you harness the energy and enthusiasm of both the I-Dragons and the savvy sleeping dragons and deal them into fired-up action that builds their experience and your bottom line.

Find out more about Dragons' Den here.

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