Leadership development and the Potential Trap

February 1, 2017 by Wally Bock

Eric D. Brown published a fascinating post with the title: “A tale of two employees.” I’ll use words from the post to let you know what it’s about.

“While talking to this CIO, she was relating some stories of a few of these employees. She was telling me of a recent experience that has her rethinking the employment of one of these new people.”

Read the entire post for the details. It reminded me of a common mistake that we make in leadership development: we act as if “potential” was the whole game. We concentrate on developing the people we’ve labelled “high potential.” That’s good, but our definition of “high potential” should include a strong work ethic.

Leadership development turns potential into performance

Once you’ve identified high potential, you confront the great leadership development challenge. You want to turn that potential into performance. That will be harder if you don’t define “potential” to include work ethic or the willingness to chip in and help the team get the job done.

Leadership development and the potential trap

Sad to say, there are lots of people out there with tons of brains and boatloads of talent who will never succeed because they’re not willing to work hard. Without a strong work ethic, brains and talent just sit there and don’t turn into leadership.

Potential leaders who aren’t willing to pitch in and work hard aren’t plants you want to cultivate. They’re weeds that will choke off the growth of the people around them.

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

Posted in Leadership Development

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