Develop Leadership Competencies for Future Top Talent

High potential employees are a key asset to every organization. Rock star employees are among one of the necessary ingredients for long-term organizational success. A recent article from authors King Yii Tang, Stephen D. Marshall, Michael Tapia and Kenneth P. De Meuse divulges a few tactics on how to develop these rock star individuals.

To adequately define a high-potential employee, one might note that these individuals demonstrate top-notch performance and have the talent necessary to move up the career ladder. Such employees will search for the challenging assignments and have the drive to take on more responsibility. Many organizations use an employee’s past performance to project their abilities to succeed in future roles. A recent study found that basing such decisions upon an employee’s past performance might not yield the results that an organization intended. OK – so what should talent managers use to identify high potentials?

According to the article, “The High-Potential Profile” may have the answers:

A 2010 Korn/Ferry study was conducted at McGladrey, a national accounting, tax, and business consulting firm employing approximately 7,000 professionals and associates in nearly 90 offices across the United States. The purpose of the study was to investigate how high potentials were different from seasoned executives. A 360-degree feedback instrument was administered to 30 managing partners in three functional areas. Overall, the results suggest that high potentials tend to be less skilled at communicating, both informing and listening; getting work done with others; and demonstrating strategic skills.

The study also compared the key strengths and weaknesses of high potentials versus seasoned leaders. According to the article, leadership gaps were computed by subtracting the executive mean ratings from the high-potential mean ratings. The larger the gap, the greater the disconnect between executives and high-potentials. The study found that seasoned leaders are more effective than high-potentials at strategic skills, communication skills, managing up, and inspiring and motivating others. However, high-potentials are better than their seasoned elders at hiring and staffing, functional/technical skills, problem solving, and developing direct reports.

Now is the time to develop your high-potential employees so that they can get a foot-in-the-door for being a future seasoned leader. There is an impending shortage of leaders for the future – development must start now! It’s imperative that talent managers cultivate a larger talent force. Organizations spend astronomical amounts of money on leadership development every year, and yet a leadership gap still exists. This is due to a lack of clear understanding of what competencies need to be developed, how to identify the most critical ones, and then how to conduct development efficiently.

The study findings reveal four distinct areas that high-potentials need to work on to become seasoned leaders:

1. Strategic skills: Be aware of how strategies and tactics work in the business world, develop fluency with business terminology, mastery of basic financial methods, be able to make timely decisions.

2. Communication skills: High-potentials should possess well-honed communication skills that enable them to effectively inform, persuade, influence, and coach others.

To read the other two distinct areas that high-potentials should master, click here to read the full article.

There are also several things an organization can do to develop key leadership competencies in high-potential employees:

  • Nurture an organizational culture that values assignment feedback, coaching, and learning.
  • Systematically and frequently provide stretch assignments and tasks.
  • Develop clear, specific, and challenging goals for individual leadership development.

To read more about what your organization can do to develop leadership competencies, read the full article here.

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