8 Traits of High Potential Employees

April 16, 2014 Brian Beattie

As companies look to develop the next generation of leaders, it’s important to spot the difference between high performers, and those with high potential. The ability to meet or exceed performance goals is great, but performance doesn’t necessarily determine a great leader. According to research from member-based executive team advisory company CEB, just 1 in 6 high performance employees also display the attributes that indicate potential.

Not sure what to look for in high potential employees? Keep reading to find out.

1.  Desire to Have a Leadership Role

Whether an employee has explicitly stated that they want to one day be an executive, or have hinted to the suggestion, it is imperative that they show desire to move up the corporate ladder and be in a leadership role.

2. Entrepreneurial Mindset

Part of being a leader is finding new opportunities that will benefit the company. If you notice employees are recognizing possible opportunities and presenting how the company can take advantage of them, they are showing the mindset needed to one day run the organization.

3. Autonomy and Initiative

Every now and then, employees will need clarification on a project and that’s fine. But if an employee has to come to you every five minutes on what to do and doesn’t take initiative on finding and starting new projects, then they are not ready to be a leader.

4. Can Lead and Supervise Groups

This may seem like a given, but this ability can get over looked. If an employee gets rave reviews when they lead a team and has the results to match, this is a good sign that they are a potential leader. If not, how can they be expected to lead an entire company if they can’t oversee a small group?

5. Interest in the Company

Many think that if an employee stays with a company long term, then they automatically have an interest in it. That isn’t always the case. To show they have high potential, an employee should actively be interested in what the company is doing, its strategy, core values and goals, and want to see the company succeed.

6. Can Meet Goals & Objectives

High potential employees will consistently meet the goals and objectives they set for themselves and those set out for them. If employees are not meeting deadlines and you find that this is a reoccurring problem, then they are not ready to be a future leader.

7. Able to Work in a Fast Paced Setting While Being Flexible

Working at the C-level means constantly being on the go and working in a fast paced environment. High potential employees need to be able to compete in that intense setting while staying flexible, so they can adapt when unforeseen challenges occur.

8. Can Make and Act on Decisions

Not everyone can make decisions and then follow through on them. Being able to look at all the alternatives, pick the right course of action and make good on it, is the mark of a leader.

Your Turn

Though performance may be important to you when looking for those with high potential, just remember that you need to take into account the characteristics above. Employees who are strong in all of these areas are 11x more likely to succeed as leaders than those lacking in many or all of the aforementioned traits.

Keep this in mind next time you’re doing talent reviews, and you might spot some high potential employees that you hadn’t considered before.

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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