Hello SOTGC community,
What does it mean to be a high potential? Whether your organization has a formal and transparent process of identifying and notifying top talent, or if the CEO has a list of names jotted down on a cocktail napkin in her top desk drawer, being viewed as a high potential can be instrumental in your career advancement.
So, who are the high potentials, anyway? The Center for Creative Leadership defines them as individuals who have “the ability, organizational commitment, and motivation to rise to and succeed in more senior positions in the organization.”
Before I go on, I should be honest with you about something. Truthfully, I struggle a bit with the whole hi-po concept in corporate America today for a few reasons.
First, I believe we are all high potentials. Whether we, or the organizations for which we work, know how to tap into and unleash our full potential is a whole other story. Second, potential is a subjective term that isn’t well defined and therefore difficult to measure. Third, it is notably difficult to distinguish between high performance and high potential. In fact, the competencies needed to be a rock-star individual contributor are often vastly different from – and sometimes in direct contrast with – the competencies needed to successfully lead a team, function, or organization. Like Marshall Goldsmith wrote, “what got you here won’t get you there.”
Three Skills That Will Set You Apart
Regardless of my biases on the subject, the current practice of reviewing, identifying, developing, and advancing high potential talent is still the most common way for organizations to build leadership bench strength and prepare for future business needs. But it takes more than just delivering results and exceeding expectations in your current role to make it into the exclusive hi-po club.
Executive Development Associates, an executive development consulting firm, and Pearson Education, Inc., recently published Trends in Executive Development 2014. This biennial benchmark report is based on survey results from senior leadership development professionals working in leading organizations. According to this report, there are three vital competencies most lacking in the next generation of leadership talent. Finding resourceful ways to exhibit your current ability (or potential to learn) these competencies just might increase your chances of getting on – and staying on – the elusive list.
Shared Vision – Are you able to create a compelling vision of what your department or organization could be? Can you articulate that vision in a way that inspires and excites others to work towards that vision?
Critical Thinking – Do you gather and analyze relevant information before making conclusions? Can you separate fact from opinion? Do you weigh all options before making decisions? Are you able to recognize and manage personal biases?
Talent Management – Do you understand what it takes to attract, develop, engage, and retain top talent? Can you create a talent strategy that supports the business strategy?
So, assess your current competency level in each of these areas. Take advantage of various methods to develop them, like attending formal training events, working with a coach or mentor, and taking on stretch assignments. Most importantly, seek out high-profile opportunities to demonstrate your strengths as a current and future leader.
Please share your thoughts or suggestions about attaining high potential status below.