7 Attributes of High-Potential Leaders

High-potential (HiPo) development is a critical talent management priority for many organizations, and doing it well is a practice of high-performance organizations. However, a review of outcomes reveals that organizations are not getting a good return on their efforts to transform high potential into high performance. Research suggests up to two-thirds of HiPo programs are failing to deliver value for individuals and organizations.

In this 3-part blog series, we’ll explore the ins and outs of developing a successful high-potential program. First, let’s start at the beginning: how to identify high-potential leaders.

Common High-Potential Attributes

Research studies have identified a common set of HiPo attributes. Beyond mastery of relevant functional skills, HiPos are distinguished by the following traits:

  • Strong drive for results, including the courage and ability to take calculated risks
  • Strong conceptual and analytical skills, including strategic thinking
  • High learning agility
  • Strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence, especially self-awareness
  • Strong collaboration skills
  • Culture fit, especially in light of where an organization needs to evolve its leadership cultures to meet the challenges that lie ahead
  • Readiness, meaning a person’s ability and motivation to transition into bigger roles (personal life circumstances, career stage, and other considerations influence a person’s capacity to profit from and apply the lessons from a development experience)

Identifying These Traits

When companies select and groom people with traits associated with adaptability, innovation, and agility, business outcomes are enhanced.

Having clarified the attributes that are core to HiPo talent, we turn to the question: “How are people with these traits best identified?” Not surprisingly, there is a lot of room for improvement in this aspect of HiPo program design. In a recent study, 29 percent of HR leaders reported being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their organization’s current process for identifying high-potential employees.

Successful organizations use two primary methods: the 9 Box Method and Formal Assessments.

This framework helps people managers sort out HiPos from other key talent segments by evaluating two factors: (1) performance and (2) potential. The 9 Box grid is comprised of vertical and horizontal dimensions with each containing three ratings from low to high.

Phot via PageUpPeople

Want to learn more about identifying HiPo in your teams? Download our free white paper or continue to on to part two of our HiPo blog series.

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