Do you trust leaders to identify ‘high potentials’?

Recently I was inspired by a webinar with Wouter Van Bockhaven, Professor at Antwerp Mgt School and founder of TalentLogiQs. He explained in a very clear way what science already knows about “potential” … how we could measure or predict the future success of an employee evolving to more complex roles in the organization.

During Talent Review discussions, we base our talent decisions amongst others on the interpretation by our leaders of ‘potential’. Subsequently we invest time and money in the talents, identified by the leaders

Most organizations fail about half the time in their designation of a high potential because they do not use any scientific measure to confirm this ‘potential’ or to proactively identify the employees with the most potential. Of course, we need the support of the leader to create a development context for each of these talents, so his/her opinion should be part of the discussion … nevertheless

We lose a lot of time and effort in aligning on the identification of the ‘right’ high potentials. While we should focus our discussion on the actions we would like to propose to our talents, so they are able to evolve, develop, take up challenging assignments, …

What Wouter clearly put forward, was that potential is only partially explained if just one measure or perspective is used. It’s by combining validated scales from different perspectives that an adequate prediction of potential is attained.

Which factors are involved? Traditionally, science has focused on the below three:

  1. IQ or general intelligence is still the number 1 predictor of potential
  2. Conscientiousness or get things done in a result-oriented way, as 1 of the big 5 personality traits is a second vital ingredient
  3. EQ or showing social abilities, being empathic, based on good self-knowledge, is a third part to explain ‘potential’

However, this has only led to a predictive value of about 49%. As such, based on newer work and their own analyses, Wouter and his team have found valuable additions in newer, validated concepts:

  1. Newer multidimensional constructs regarding EQ and adaptive habits under the umbrella of learning agility.
  2. Career- or metaskills
    like adaptability, self-knowledge and self-directed learning that indicate successful identity- and learning-related tendencies

Do you want your Talent Review discussion to be focused on what really matters, being (career) development initiatives and NOT on the eternal discussion if someone is yes or no a (high) potential?