Essential Steps to Identify and Develop High-Potential Executives

High-potential employees are standout employees who have the ability and potential to rise to leadership positions. They exhibit drive, a high learning ability, and the capacity to lower risks through enhanced productivity and future leadership potential. Usually, talent management seeks to identify and develop these high-potential employees to mold successful executives. These are a few steps to follow to foster and harness this talent:

1. Plan for the future: According to Kip Kelly, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Executive Development at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business, the first step is to acknowledge the future direction of the company and the need for ongoing and expanding leadership. Once the needs are identified, requirements for that position can be determined and talent acquisition can begin searching for qualified candidates.

2. Define the criteria for high-potential: Another article from UNC on their Executive Development blog mentions how important it is to define the criteria that determines a high-potential candidate.  A “criteria-based approach” uses role-plays, scenarios, and assessment centers to evaluate the ideal attributes for the role.

3. Avoid derailment: According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), it’s important to give high-potential individuals specific feedback about their performance and behavior, as well as clear expectations about valuable work performance. Derailment can happen when employees aren’t able to implement their ideas through others or have a hard time incorporating other employees’ opinions. Essentially, you must make sure the high-potential employee understands their parameters and knows their value.

4. Provide reflective learning: Suzanne Bates of ATD believes that providing high-potentials with learning experiences will allow them to connect with their strengths and past journeys.  In this way, they can demonstrate an executive presence that’s “authentic, unique, and true.”

Identifying and developing high-potentials for executive roles is an important and extensive process. The value of cultivating talent will change the corporate executive talent pool and determine the success of your organization.