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High Potential Identification and Development

Based on research from Korn Ferry®, two-thirds of business leaders lack confidence in the outcomes of their succession planning efforts based on their inability to identify high potential executives. This is often due to the fact that they have vague definitions of employee potential. This becomes a real issue when managers are tasked with identifying the next generation of leaders based on these weak criteria and end up promoting strong current performers, rather than those who will be key drivers of organizational performance as they advance through the organization.

Organizations Need Help to Identify High Potential Leaders

Since managers and leaders tend to evaluate team members based on past performance, they can end up promoting the wrong team members. Rather than promoting natural leaders or high potential employees, they might simply promote the highest performers. It’s never that easy. You need to make sure your company is developing your top talent and future leaders appropriately.

What it Means to Be a High Potential Employee

If, by chance, you do correctly identify these high potentials, your success and luck may end there. That’s because you could be like most other companies that constantly struggle to develop the full potential of their leaders. Based on current research by Korn Ferry, there are seven factors related to being a high potential.

Relevant Experiences

Having a strong track record of experiences that are directly relevant to their role or industry is a key indicator of high potential. This might mean successful projects and other accomplishments.

The Ability to Learn from Experience

High potential employees can quickly adapt to new situations, learn from experiences, and apply that learning to future challenges. They are open to new ideas, can pivot when needed, and can apply lessons from one situation to another.


Somebody who is self-aware can identify their own strengths, weaknesses, emotions, and how their behavior impacts others. Individuals who are self-aware can improve themselves and can work well with others.

Leadership Disposition

Having a leadership disposition doesn't mean that somebody is actually in a leadership position. It's all about displaying leadership qualities. This means taking initiative, being proactive, guiding others, and effectively communicating a vision or strategy. High potential individuals can motivate and influence others positively.

Motivation and Drive

When succession planning, you should look for somebody with strong motivation to succeed. These team members are not just working for a paycheck and are passionate about what they do. This motivation drives them to go above and beyond and continue to improve.

Aptitude for Logic and Reasoning

A strong aptitude for logical thinking and reasoning is essential for problem-solving and decision-making. These employees are able to analyze complex situations and make well-reasoned decisions.

Minimal Derailment Risk

Derailment means a sudden and significant decline in performance or behavior that can negatively impact somebody’s career trajectory. Future leaders tend to have a strong sense of professionalism, resilience, and adaptability, reducing the likelihood of derailing.

How to Identify High Potential Employees

By measuring the above factors through the Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute’s comprehensive assessment process, we help take the guesswork out of identifying your high potentials. Using a combination of assessments, and a calibrated 9-cell matrix, we can drive your talent management agenda in the direction of success.

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