Lawrence Bossidy, retired CEO of Honeywell, Inc., said, “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies.”

The long range growth of your organization depends on the short range process of finding and cultivating excellent leadership. Finding them can be even more challenging than developing their skills. But in many cases, they are already in the pipeline—and on the payroll. They are the team members who stand out in your workforce, whose very personalities suggest leadership potential.

Here are five pools for potential managers and leaders.

1. Experienced leaders.

You may have observed people whose leadership emerged early. Within your organizational family and within your network of friends and associates, there may be former Eagle Scouts, team captains, or student leaders that have past experience in leading others. Once you find them, why not schedule an interview to see if they are a fit for that leadership position that needs filling?

2. Trusted peers.                                                  

Who comes to mind when you think of influencers in your organization? Who are the team members to whom others seem to be drawn for their opinions, suggestions, or skills? If they are respected by others, they have the potential to be their leader. Are they candidates for a promotion? Give them an opportunity to build on the peer trust they have already established.

3. Crisis managers.

Maybe your organization faced a crisis—ranging from one as simple as a power outage to one as devastating as a tornado. Who emerged as the onsite, take-charge people? How did they encourage or instruct others through the crisis? Did they forge calmly ahead, gathering resources, forming teams, and rebuilding? Once the dust settles, why not give them a shot at serving on your leadership team?

4. Faithful workers.

What members of your team can you count on to be punctual, focused, resourceful, persevering, trustworthy, or sacrificial? Are they in places of leadership? Why not? What can you do to develop their leadership skills? Leadership qualities are formed in “follow-ship” experience.

5. Willing learners.

You know their name. They are the first to sign up for a continuing education class. They are the first to respond to a leadership opening. They excel because they persistently take their tasks to the next level. Why not give them their opportunity to go to the next level in leadership?

Believe me, they are out there! They are leaders in waiting, filled with the enthusiasm and skill set that will enhance your organization and impact your community. Henry David Thoreau wrote, ”Do not hire a man (or woman) who does your work for money, but him (or her) who does it for the love of it.”

–Stan Toler