Do you have what it takes to make it to the top?


Research has now shown what traits make a high potential leader.

What Traits Make a High Potential Leader

Can you tell if that person next to you has the potential to become high potential? Or do they see you that way? Is that employee promising young leader because of what they do at work? Or are you thinking that way because they can play golf?

Trying to find your high performing individuals is shrouded in bias and opinions. Fortunately. We have a way to find them using research literature. This research works around the concept of employees of high potential (Hipo). The use of Hipos are extensive within the corporate world, however due to the potential for bias and human emotion, its important that we have a deeper understanding of what traits a Hipo has.

In a 2018 article of Personal Psychology, FInklestein, Costanza and Goodwin wrote the article which should help with it.

Identifying HIPOS

Identifying the importance of hipos is important for any organisation. Creating a succession plan and identifying the star performers allows a company to allocate resources accordingly. It also important for employees, understanding what it takes to be considered a Hipo can allow you to see what senior management are looking for and target your energy in the right places.

What is also important is that being a Hipo does not necessarily relate to someone of high potential. The clearest example of this relates to the bias in the work place. Women and people of BAME background are not proportionally represented on executive boards across the country. One of the drivers of this relates to bias’s in the selection of Hipos.

There are 6 indicators that can highlight potential. Companies should build structures and processes around identifying these in individuals.

6 Indicators That Highlight Potential

Cognitive ability: Cognitive ability (loosely defined as intelligence) remains a strong predictor of success at work and in leadership roles. It provides a foundation for learning, agility, decision making and more.

Personality: Certain personality traits, like need for achievement and emotional stability, support high potentials. When considering leadership, the employee must be comfortable with people and able to maintain relationships.

Social competence: Social competence incorporates many traits such as extroversion, warmth, social influence and understanding of social norms. The authors also mention charisma.

Learning agility: With hipos, companies are preparing leaders for the future. No one knows exactly what that future will require. Hipos must be willing and able to learn new things. They need to learn fast and apply the learning quickly as situations change.

Developmental readiness: Developmental readiness consists of several traits such as learning orientation, self-awareness and confidence in one’s own ability to develop into a leader. Similar to elite athletes needing to be ready for mental exercises, employees need to be ready for intense development before moving into hipo developmental programs.

Typical intellectual engagement: Typical Intellectual Engagement (TIE) refers to an employee’s interest in a wide variety of things and a ‘need to know’ the answers to complex problems. These people engage with the world and like to problem solve. TIE prepares hipos for the complex world of senior executives.

Armed with the above information, you need to ask yourself the below questions

Am I interested in career growth or happy where I am?
Does my boss know my career interests?
Would I be considered a hipo in my company?
How do my boss and other senior leaders perceive me?
What should I add to my personal Individual Development Plan (IDP) to prepare myself for future opportunities?

Employee Diversity

At Ohcul jobs, we promote diversity within the workplace through removing the opportunity for people’s unconscious bias to reflect in the recruitment process.

Employee diversity provides a number of benefits to any organisation (large and small). Ethnically diverse companies perform 35% better than their industry median and gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to haver returns above the industry median. With the national customer base becoming more diverse, it is important that a company is representative to fully understand its clients’ needs and, according to the latest research, 67% of employees cite a diverse workforce is a key factor when looking at a role.

At Ohcul, we remove the opportunity for hidden bias from a CV review stage. Our unique tool removes identifying data from a clients CV allowing a recruiter to progress the best candidates.

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