10 Important Questions to Help Identify High Potential Leaders
Submitted by our colleague Dario Priolo
According to research from the Corporate Executive Board, 40% of internal job moves made by people identified by their companies as "high potentials" end in failure. Many organizations make the mistake of looking simply at ability when assessing an employee for a management job. Think of the hot-shot sales rep or the genius software engineer. It is incredible how often high producing individuals get promoted into management jobs that require a totally different mindset to be successful.
The reason these people fail often comes down to three critical factors: leadership behaviors, aspiration and engagement. Aspiration entails whether the candidate really wants the position and is willing to make the sacrifices it may require. Engagement involves the employee's commitment to the company and its mission. In focusing on whether an employee potentially can do a job, many organizations neglect the question, “Does he want to do this?"
Defining the characteristics can be a tricky proposition, particularly with young employees. The characteristics people develop through training, experience and progress in their activity are not necessarily apparent from who they are when they start. Moreover, many managers have beliefs about leadership that look like something out of a movie -- loud, aggressive, in-your-face types of guys.
Organizations should develop leadership competency models based on a set of traits and behaviors associated with success in the company and then measure employees on how well they do relative to those traits. Organizations need to be sure they are assessing employees not just for the present but for the future, looking at not only what has made people successful, but also what is likely to be important and what shortages they have.
The 10 questions below, along with an effective assessment program, will help you more effectively identify high potential managers:
- Does this person have a proven track record for accomplishing impressive results – not just meeting expectations?
- Does this person take charge and make things happen? Or sit back and let things happen before producing?
- Does this person inspire confidence in his or her decision making?
- Can this person lead through persuasion and influence? Can he or she serve as an effective sounding board to others who are struggling with complex issues?
- Do others trust this person to lead projects and teams, even though he or she doesn’t have a leadership title?
- Does this person have an understanding of how to separate “what” from “how”? An awareness that establishing the destination before deciding on the mode of transportation is essential?
- Can this person keep a global perspective? Are priorities apparent, or does she or he become mired in the details and tactics?
- Do obstacles stop this person? Or do they represent challenges, not threats?
- What success has this person had with multitasking?
- How do unexpected changes affect this person’s performance?