Download PDF Talent Leadership: A Proven Method for Identifying and Developing High-Potential Employees

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In a large-scale study of how companies assess and manage their rising stars, the authors have identified some guiding principles for developing high potentials. Great performance is not enough; you must also envision yourself as a senior executive, have the right motives the desire for positive impact , and possess leadership attributes such as the ability to derive insight and engage others.

Firms also need to align their candidate selection to their strategy: A low-cost company will not need the same kind of talent as an enterprise bent on global expansion. This article describes emerging best practices in executing high-potential programs, including the latest thinking on how to nominate and assess participants, design effective job rotations and stretch assignments, provide thoughtful rewards and incentives, and communicate about the program with the rest of the organization. In the war for talent, the most effective weapon is the careful management of candidates for top jobs.

Selection criteria are confusing; solid contributors are often demoralized by their exclusion from the process; development programs tend to remove promising managers from day-to-day operations. They include:.

Identifying, developing high potential employees

The war for talent shows no signs of letting up, even in sectors experiencing modest growth. Moreover, in the regions where many companies are focusing their growth strategies—emerging markets—the supply of experienced managers is the most limited, and the shortage is expected to continue for another two decades. The appeal is clear for both sides: Promising managers are attracted to companies known for strong development opportunities, and a well-managed talent pipeline dramatically increases the odds that a company will appoint great leaders at the top.

The selection criteria are often confusing. Firms risk demoralizing solid contributors who are not anointed as high potentials—the vast majority of managers, the people who keep the trains running on time. And too often, the programs fail to maintain momentum, leaving companies unsure they have paid off and fueling worker cynicism. There are exceptions, of course.

Companies such as GE, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Shell have long been known for their careful attention to talent management. But those companies are not the norm. As far as we know, no one has yet studied the process of managing high potentials from end to end. In order to fill this void, in we launched a joint research project with the executive search firm Egon Zehnder International, conducting a large-scale cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of how companies assess and manage their rising stars. We also interviewed executives from 70 companies that have programs for high potentials—firms of all sizes, located around the world.

Still, they can provide valuable ideas and inspiration to companies looking to strengthen their talent pipelines. One important finding of our research was that the effective management of the next generation of leaders always encompasses three sets of activities.

High Potential Identification & Development | HIPO - SHL

The first involves the establishment of clear strategic priorities, which shape the way companies groom high-potential leaders. The second involves the careful selection of high-potential candidates—and communicating who they are to others in the organization. This can be touchy. And the third comprises the management of talent itself—how high potentials are developed, rewarded, and retained. There is no cookie-cutter method for creating a successful program.

Your strategy and your culture influence the nature of the program that will be most effective. Consider a sales vice president who consistently meets her budget forecasts. Could you reasonably expect her to take responsibility for marketing as well? She might be very bright and a highly valued contributor but still not qualify as a high potential. These range from very difficult to change motives to highly teachable skills.

This model shows the elements of potential, with the hardest to change—motives and leadership assets like the ability to engage others—at the core. It has a major impact on whether a manager will use a particular capability. These predict consistent patterns of behavior over time.

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They tend to be stable, are usually not conscious, and are highly related to what people enjoy and get energized or engaged by. Does the person get satisfaction from seeing others succeed?

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One form of the last motive, the desire for socialized influence having a positive impact on others for the good of the larger organization , is a predictor of senior executive potential. However, positive work experiences and wise mentorship can help people develop better motives. There are four important assets: A high potential derives insight; she can make sense of a vast range of information and discover and apply new ideas that transform past practices or set new directions.

She also effectively engages others through emotions and logic, communicating a persuasive vision and connecting individuals.

Align Development to Strategy

She demonstrates resolve and keeps on driving toward goals despite challenges. High-potential candidates can lose interest when development programs miss the mark, are irrelevant to business needs or fail to engage them intellectually and emotionally. To build a leadership pipeline that is both deep and wide, we advise companies to take an individualized approach to nurturing, engaging and retaining high-potential talent. Myth 3: Developing high potentials is an HR issue. Clearly, HR leaders play a key role in creating a high-potential program; however high-potential identification and development is an issue that must be embraced by the entire senior leadership team.

Together, HR and the C-suite must financially and culturally commit to investing in a high-potential program to identify and develop their next generation of leaders. To move forward, organizations need a sustained, strategic approach—crossing all departments—to develop their future executive teams. The Path Forward Take a systematic approach to talent management and the development of high-potential leaders.

Leveraging proven methodology can build a strong pipeline of leadership talent. Assess talent to identify a high-potential leader line-up that is aligned to your business strategy.

How to Find High Potential Leaders Who Already Work in Your Company

Develop and enrich the best and brightest within your organization, and activate and engage high-potential leaders to build their loyalty and retention. By following these guidelines, you will have a solid pipeline of high-potential executives and employees.

Talent Management. You can also choose to plug in our data dashboards; an amazing tool for exploring trends and characteristics across your workforce. Our Talent Indicator self-assessments deliver key information for HiPo selection. You can even use this at the hiring stage. When you want to ensure that line managers can contribute their views to the HiPo nomination process, our Potential Perspectives multi-rater is the perfect solution. Explore trends and relationships across your talent pool with dynamic data dashboards. Get all the knowledge you need for effective succession planning and accelerate the growth of your key talent.

Maximise engagement with impactful communications that get everyone on board with your potential assessment approach. Learn even more with interactive data dashboards. Visualise your potential data to uncover trends and explore relationships. Enhance your interviews, feedback discussions and development planning with in-depth insight in a format that works for you. Skip to main content. Google Tag Manager.