Whenever I learn about exceptional leaders who have spent time "in the wilderness" - remote places that would offer little chance for advancement - I wonder about two things: what the world would be like if they had not escaped their exile and how many others, of equal or greater talent, did not do so.
These questions have been renewed while reading the fascinating Brothers, Rivals, Victors by Jonathan W. Jordan. The book traces the rise and relationships of Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley and it is filled with many "What might have happened?" moments. Their salvation was General George C. Marshall, the extraordinary leader who was himself rescued from relative obscurity by the wily FDR. President Roosevelt recognized that Marshall was exactly the sort of talent needed to prepare the American armed forces for war. Marshall himself was an astute observer of talent and his willingness to clear the way for the decidedly different personalities of Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley as well as for other officers of great promise was, by itself, a major contribution to the security of the United States and the winning of the Second World War.
That willingness requires a sensitivity to the importance of fitting the right person with the right job. It is not as common as one might suspect, especially in a world in which we seem more inclined to let bureaucratic systems determine such matters. Marshall and his team beat the bureaucracy and we all benefited.
Look at your own organization. Who are the talented people "in the wilderness?" What's being done to rescue them?