How to Recognize (Real) Leaders with High Potential

How to Recognize (Real) Leaders with High Potential 

Getting the right people is job #1. The right people drive potential leaders which in turn lifts the lid of an organization.

High performers possess capacity, character, and drive to become a future catalytic leader. They are everywhere but you have to have your eyes open. If you don’t spot them you will not keep them.

Principals of High Performers (HIPOs)

  1. Performance does not necessarily = potential (don’t over promote…aka the Peter Principle) . Hiring selection is typically based on current role rather than future role.  Companies typically promote employees until they reach a level of incompetence.  Instead, companies need to hire and recruit for the future rather than present and promote the potential.
  2. Most HIPOs don’t know they are HIPOs

    • Humility is usually a better indicator of potential than misplaced confidence 
  3. Those who think they are HIPOs probably are not (Dunn and Kruger effect…cognitive bias mistake…which leads people to overestimate their abilities and skills. Big talkers should scare you.
  4. Every HIPO has extremes (extreme gifts are matched by extreme weaknesses).  Don’t let shortcomings scare you from potential.  Look for bright spots organationally.  Mitigate weakness and focus on positive.  Greatest potential is typically buried in shortcomings.  (StrengthFinder 2.0 famously argues that people shouldn’t focus on addressing and fixing their weaknesses, but go all-in on their strengths instead).

How to Spot and Develop More HIPOs

  1. Name players that have untapped potential (bored and under valued people hold the organization back)
  2. Why do you think they have potential?  Patterns…see what others overlook. What’s inside to make them potentially great?
  3. What will you do to draw them out?  How can you give them authority (not tasks) to test them?

Don’t conform.  Be real and don’t be afraid to be wrong.  Now go find yourself some more High Potentials…