Leadership development and the elusive HiPo

August 22, 2018 by Wally Bock

Leadership development seems like it ought to be simple. Select men and women who have lots of leadership potential. Then, develop them into competent, committed leaders. Alas, real life rarely cooperates. It turns out that identifying those “HiPo” leaders is hard.

Darleen DeRosa identifies the issue in her post, “How to Spot High-Potential Employees in Your Organization.” Then she says this:

“Part of the problem is that organizations often fail to consider what motivates someone to want to be a leader in the first place. It’s often easier to focus on unreliable factors like identifying people who are the first to arrive and last to leave, are strong producers on an individual basis, or even less measurable “gut feeling” qualities. Many employees are elevated to leadership positions simply on the basis of tenure and experience, even though their previous responsibilities did little to prepare them to lead. In some cases, taking on a leadership role is the only way for someone to earn a promotion or raise even if they have little, if any, interest in the responsibilities of the job.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in that paragraph and in the post, but I want to concentrate on the basic selection issue. The challenge is finding people who like the work and will be able to do it well.

Leadership development and the selection problem

Tests can help you identify people with aptitude. What they can’t measure is whether the person with the aptitude is likely to enjoy the work. People who like the work of leadership will be more likely to put in the effort to do it well. For people who don’t like the work, every day is difficult.

Leadership development and the work you must like

A leader’s basic work is helping the team and individual team members succeed. So, look for people who do that even if it’s not their job. Look for people who enjoy helping others. Be on the lookout for people who go the extra mile to help the team, even if they don’t get credit.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

Posted in Leadership Development

If You Enjoyed This Post...

You'll love getting updates when we post new articles on leadership development, 360 degree feedback and behavior change. Enter your email below to get a free copy of our book and get notified of new posts:

Follow Envisia Learning:

RSS Twitter linkedin Facebook

Are You Implementing a Leadership Development Program?

Call us to discuss how we can help you get more out of your leadership development program:

(800) 335-0779, x1