The ability to identify and develop leadership potential is a vital component of talent management as it is key to ensuring a full pipeline of effective leaders now and in the future. Yet, potential is a concept that lacks a clear and universal definition.
Some people see potential as being ready for promotion to the next level in the organisation through career development, while others consider it is based on a history of successful job performance or a high level of functional expertise.
Others might suggest the ability to lead effectively is based on being able to foster strong relationships and employee engagement supported by excellent communication skills, a deep understanding of their emotional intelligence and ability to face business challenges with a positive attitude.
Lack of clarity on potential can be problematic for organisations. Leaders disagree when they come together to discuss their talent and without a valid set of criteria for evaluating potential, risk placing people in, or developing them for, the wrong roles.
What research tells us
Extensive research by Korn Ferry shows that the characteristics and experiences that correlate with success in senior executive roles are very different from those in middle-management and entry-level jobs.
Based on the knowledge of what differentiates those who have successfully advanced into senior leadership positions, Korn Ferry has defined leadership potential as – “the capacity and interest to develop the qualities for effective performance in significantly challenging leadership roles”.
Clearly, this is not just about the next job on the leadership pipeline. Superior performance in a middle-management role doesn’t necessarily predict success as a senior executive. A longer-term perspective is needed to understand a person’s ability grow and develop into a great leader, as well as their desire to do so.
Finding potential with more precision
Given that organisations invest significant amounts of time and money in developing high potential team members into good leaders, and providing them with challenging assignments, accurate identification is essential.
The Korn Ferry Potential solution assessment is a comprehensive, online self-assessment that measures 18 qualities that are strong indicators of leadership potential, that fall into six key areas:
- Leadership Traits: The building blocks of who we are.
- Learning Agility: The willingness and ability to learn from experience.
- Drivers of Leadership: Motivators for leadership roles.
- Key Experiences: A track record of developmental roles, assignments and challenges.
- Capacity for Problem Solving: The aptitude for logic and reasoning.
- Managed Derailment Risks: The awareness and mitigation of potential risk factors.
It then translates this into actionable insight you can use to address development gaps and make the right decisions about where and how to invest for the future.