6 Traits to Better Identify High Potentials (HiPo’s)

A pawn casts a shadow of a chessboard king

We define high potential employees as the most talented 5-10% of an organization. From our perspective, HiPo’s:

• Perform. Regularly outperform their job expectations and their peers regardless of the situation.
• Behave. Consistently model the organizational culture and core values.
• Strive. Clearly show the willingness and capability to quickly learn and grow within an organization.

Someone could make a fortune if there were an invention that could clearly discern potential—whether or not a “pawn” employee has what it takes to become a king.

One of the problems in identifying high potential employees is that too many of us measure future potential by current and past performance. This is a mistake. An employee who excels in one job may not have the ability or the desire to excel in another. How many top engineers have you seen promoted into management who fail miserably in their new role? And it was most likely not their fault. They probably had no preparation for becoming a new manager. They had the analytical and problem solving skills that served them well in their previous position but not the leadership, decision making, or communication skills they needed to successfully lead a team.

Conversely, failing to identify, develop and promote HiPo’s can lead to increased attrition and succession planning problems. Our annual employee engagement research found that almost one-third of high-potential employees are looking for new jobs. Can your company afford that?

So if you can’t predict success from an employee’s current or past track record, what guidelines are there to help you select those high-potentials worthy of grooming for leadership positions? As a bare minimum, the employee should want the leadership position and be willing to do whatever it takes to earn and secure it. You also want to be sure of the employee’s commitment to the organization. They should be highly engaged in the company’s mission and totally committed to and representative of the company’s core values.

Once you have a preliminary list of likely HiPo candidates, you need to measure them against a proven leadership profile of the critical few competencies you and your team have determined are essential for future success at your company based upon your unique business strategy and corporate culture.

While each company and organizational culture is different, here are six of the most common traits our high performance clients consider when they are looking to develop a group of high potentials. These are clients who understand the importance of planning for the future. The best leaders know that it is in the best interests of the company to select and prepare their successors.

Look for candidates who are:

1. Proactive
High performing leaders are not content to just wait and watch others. They understand the bigger strategic picture and thrive on taking smart, meaningful and aligned actions to succeed. They often take charge to make positive things happen with those around them and are seen as a “go to” resource to help move things forward in a way that makes sense.

2. Good decision makers
High performing leaders need to be able to view all the pros and cons of an issue and still reach a decision they and their teams can stick to. HiPo’s are able to do this quickly, decisively, and with minimal information while balancing vested interests and emotional attachments.

3. Trusted and trustworthy
High performing leaders consistently inspire trust from their peers and followers because of their high integrity, consistent willingness to listen to opposing views without repercussions, and perceived fairness in dealing with others.

4. Excellent communicators
High performing leaders know how to clearly articulate an idea, vision or plan that inspires others. They are persuasive and often charismatic. But in addition to advocating a compelling point of view, they also know how to truly listen…both to receive feedback and to understand another’s point of view.

5. Flexible
High performing leaders skillfully adapt with equanimity to changing circumstances. They thrive at understanding how each of their team members works best and adapt their leadership style accordingly. Flexible leaders consistently tap into each person’s true potential and raise the performance bar for their team by playing to people’s strengths.

6. Goal- and future-oriented
High performing leaders know how to plan for the future and keep focused on what matters most. They do not fall prey to the “fad of the month.” They do not shift priorities or lower expectations when challenges arise. And they do not play politics or favorites. Quite the contrary. High performing leaders clearly set where the team needs to head, hold their team accountable and ensure that information flow across their team is timely.

There may well be other characteristics that you want to include in your specific high performance leader profile that is designed for your unique strategy and organizational culture. Remember not to look just at current performance but at the whole person who exhibits leadership qualities but perhaps has not yet had the time or the experience to fully develop them.

That’s what “potential” is all about.

Learn more about attracting, developing, engaging and retaining differentiated talent.

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn
Files under:  

Comments are closed.

Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

Susan Anderson
Workforce Planning Bureau

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

What a refreshing change from the half-baked psycho-babble you normally get from training and consulting organizations. LSA gives you the practical and results-oriented assistance you need to define and reach your goal.  They provide a results driven plan – not just a temporary fix. They are great to work with, and even more importantly, they “get it!”

David Fiano
Vice President Human Resources

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

John Mastrorilli
FRDP Leader

Intuit

LSA helped to meet the needs of my teams within a very narrow timeframe. My team walked away with highly useful management tools and practices. LSA saved us time in delivering the right solution for our specific needs.

Sandeep Kumar
Director, Software Engineering, EPG

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

LSA’s customized Effective Presentation Skills program has helped me elevate my presentation skills to the next level. I now have a much greater self-awareness of my presentation skills and can leverage off of my strengths while working to improve upon other areas. I would definitely recommend this solution to anyone for whom business presentations are an integral part of their job.

Jim Elliott
Senior Marketing Manager

Samsung

I am very impressed with the quality of work and talent. LSA did a great job of listening to my needs and providing the exact management training program expertise I needed to get the job done.

Don Pryor
Director, Business Planning & Analysis

LSA exceeded all my expectations. We interviewed 7 potential training and consulting partners and selected LSA due to their expertise, flexibility, and breadth and depth of solutions. We were able to construct a management training course from the modules most appropriate to our needs, and are able to provide additional training from their well developed portfolio of experts. Our managers galvanized as a team throughout the session and are better prepared for the rigors of a competitive market.

Mitch Mandich
CEO

Edify

I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.

Phyllis Moracco
HR Director

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

LSA’s consultant designed and delivered a half-day team building solution for our recent conference. It included careful customization to integrate the design with our new mission and values. Everyone had fun and identified key issues with our teamwork. Altogether a great program!

Bob Ward
Director of HR

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More