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Talent Assessment: How to Identify Your High Potential Leaders by Ellen Raynor, Director Talent Management, McKesson Medical-Surgical

02/01/2018 11:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Succession planning – identifying and developing leaders with the capability and readiness to fill key organizational roles – is a critical business process to assure continuity and strategy execution.  Completing a succession plan requires talent segmentation – an assessment of the organization’s leaders to differentiate well-placed or so-called “core talent” from those who have the capacity and skills to assume roles at higher levels.

The challenge is that many well-placed leaders who do not have the capability to advance are nonetheless high-performing.  How do you identify the high-performing leaders who also have considerable advancement potential?

A June 2010 article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Are You a High Potential?” summarized research involving 45 companies to better understand high potential talent.  As expected, the authors found that high potential leaders typically outperform other leaders.  They also identified four factors that consistently differentiate high potential leaders from the rest.

Factor #1:  A Drive to Excel

High potential leaders do not settle for “good enough.”  They are driven to achieve and willing to go the extra mile.  They also recognize that personal sacrifices – long hours, relocation, difficult work – may be required to advance.

Factor #2:  A Catalytic Learning Capability

High potential leaders love to learn and generate new ideas.  What differentiates them is the ability to covert learning and ideas into meaningful action.  For a high potential leader, learning is more than cognitive stimulation; it’s an opportunity to produce something impactful for his or her organization.

Factor #3:  An Enterprising Spirit

High potential leaders have entrepreneurial tendencies.  They have the courage to take risks and create new pathways to business success.  They are comfortable leaving their career comfort zones in order to advance.

Factor #4:  A Dynamic Sensor

The risk-taking and entrepreneurship noted above are balanced by organizational savvy, a canny sense of timing, and the ability to assess situations.  High potential leaders know when to hold their cards and when to seize an opportunity. 

These criteria may be helpful when reviewing and segmenting talent as part of your organization’s succession planning process.  Slating the right people with the appropriate skills and development for their future roles is an investment in the continued success of your organization.


“Are You a High Potential?”
Harvard Business Review – June 2010

by Douglas A. Ready, Jay A. Conger and Linda A. Hill

Reprint R1006E

By Ellen Raynor, MA, CPLP
Director - Talent Management - McKesson Medical-Surgical

Join Ellen Raynor, one of our breakout session speakers, this June at the first annual PWH Leadership Summit!


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