Leadership development: Forget high potential

December 24, 2014 by Wally Bock

If leadership development is what you do, you should read Tim Sackett’s post, “5 Things Leaders Need to Know about Developing Employees.” All five things he lists are spot on, if my experience is any guide. But here’s the one that really got me thinking. It’s number three on the list.

“Don’t invest more in a person than they are willing to invest in themselves. I want you to be great. I want you to be the best employee we have ever had work here. You need to be a part of that. I’m willing to invest an immense amount of time and resources to help you reach your goals, but you have to meet me halfway, at least.”

How often do we keep pouring money and effort into helping to turn some “hi po” into a leader who never takes the bait? It’s a waste of time and money to concentrate on potential for very long.

Two kinds of leadership potential

It’s easy to mistake intelligence or good communications skills for leadership potential. But potential alone doesn’t get the job done. If all you see is that kind of potential, test it.

Leadership development potential should be behavioral

There are lots of intelligent people who can’t or won’t lead. To spot real leadership potential, look for behavioral cues. Here are some questions to ask to gauge potential that matters.

Are they willing?

When you offer them an opportunity do they seize it? Or are they picky?

Do they work hard?

Leaders work hard. Potential leaders should, too.

Do they deliver results?

Leaders deliver results. They find a way. Others find an excuse.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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