Companies need high potential leaders more than ever before. Adapting to today's digitally-driven business environment requires exceptional talent. If you meet the top potential criteria, you are in high demand. This insight explains how to fast-track yourself.
The criteria for high potential are changing markedly. In the past, fast-track leaders were tapped mainly because of their cognitive abilities, analytical skills, imagination, thoroughness in finding solutions and even perfectionist tendencies. Today, other attributes will count more heavily: relationship skills, experience, judgment, abilities to engage, motivate, and draw out the best performance in others, strategic skills and even personal habits and behaviourial DNA. Above all, companies see high potential as people who have the capacity to grow quickly and step into new leadership roles competently. Ram Charan with Geri Willigan in their book, The High-Potential Leader: How to Grow Fast, Take on New Responsibilities, and Make an Impact, provide a step by step guide to becoming a high potential leader.
Top companies have been paying attention to high-potential employees for a couple of decades. They have programs to advance them swiftly in their careers. Usually, the high potentials are schooled to follow the model of the leaders at the summit of the corporate hierarchy. However, Ram Charan, a peripatetic counsellor to those chieftains around the world, says future generations of high potentials must be trained to be unlike those leaders.
Amid everything that is new and different, today's high-potential leaders, or 'hipos', must be able to identify the unique untapped opportunities their companies will pursue and mobilize. This is a weakness in many older business leaders today.
Three New Characteristics
Charan outlines three characteristics they will need those previous generations did not require. They
- Imagine on a larger scale — They can pick up clues of what might be possible from the tons of information they gobble up. These leaders can use technology, algorithms and other people’s skills to make it happen. They are psychologically prepared to move very quickly and fearlessly.
- Seek what they need to make it happen —High potentials will seek out anyone to get the help they need. They go well beyond the hierarchy or their own organization. Steve Jobs displayed that characteristic when he called Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, for technical help. That was a rare act then. Today, it must be commonplace.
- Understand the concept of the ecosystem — Companies rarely act alone in delivering a product or service. Think of Wal-Mart and Amazon, with their huge array of suppliers. “High potentials have the ability to see the total picture. They conjure a mental image of the web of interrelationships, and to think imaginatively of how to redesign it,” he says.
High potentials are usually swamped. So, they cultivate the ability to raise the return on their time, leveraging their "multipliers" – the things that allow them to accomplish more. The highest leverage comes not from process, organization or money, but from people. You must hire, develop and promote the best people. Be tenacious, not giving up too quickly on the search for an exceptional candidate and settling for someone who cannot give you the boost you need.
People quality + job fit + collaboration = team performance
The formula to multiply the energy and skills of those around you is People quality + job fit + collaboration = team performance.
"People create the strategy. People deliver the numbers. That means if you fall short on the people side, you fall short on the business leadership, period. You have to invest considerable time to know and grow people and to integrate their work. You also have to face up to tough decisions about people, including removing those who drain energy from others." — Ram Charan
Consider yourself as a talent scout. Identifying a person's natural talent through their behavioural traits. Push beyond first impressions. As first impressions will lead you to make decisions on obvious personality traits such as aggressiveness, confidence and energy level. The person we like best I see eight times more likely to get hired than the person who is the best-fit. Somebody who seems impatient and negative might, for example, be rightfully frustrated because peers won't come along the best path.
Get to know the individual in a variety of situations. Once you discern the individual's strengths. Know the traits of high performers in the role. Select the best fit and build upon those.
An important element of today's ecosystem of partners joined together in a common platform is that it could include competitors. In the past, the key was to control the value chain from suppliers to consumers. Today, it's a different approach.
"If you're in a small company being pulled into a big ecosystem, don't think of it as losing control. It may help you to become bigger.” — Ram Charan
Follow four principles as you develop a strategy for high potentials. First, they are a resource for the company, not for an individual boss to protect. Second, their development paths must be customized to their needs. Third, the high potentials should be active participants in their development. Finally, you must accelerate their growth as fast as possible.
Charan wrote the book with his long-time collaborator Geri Willigan. It contains few surprises but covers a lot of terrain in his usual sage manner. It can serve as a modern management manual for use by individuals or organizations.
Offering employees career development opportunities is extremely beneficial
We are incredibly passionate about Behavioural DNA and the impact this scientific insight can have on your teams and your business.
Using SuccessFinder, people develop a healthy and deep trust in each other and the team's purpose — they feel free to express feelings and ideas. Everybody is working toward the same goals. Team members are clear on how to work together, how to contribute their unique strengths, and how to accomplish tasks.
Given the changes in the way organizations are operating and the shifting demographic composition of the workforce, offering career development opportunities to employees could be extremely beneficial to employers. Informal and formal learning experiences can provide employees with a more comprehensive skill set and reassurance that their employer recognizes their value. With new knowledge and abilities, employees will be better prepared to handle new technologies and innovations and may be able to contribute to enhancing their organization’s systems and procedures.