High Potential Leaders – Identify, Develop & Engage


If you knew just one program that could help you create an energized, results focused, and capable workforce, it’s the program that identifies, develops, and engages your high potential leaders (HIPOs). Inoculate your organization from the war-on-talent virus by ensuring you have deep bench-strength of rising global leaders. One of our clients described how a HIPO program addresses these global realities: “We have a leadership model with expectations for leaders at different levels in the organization. We look at business leadership, people leadership and market leadership. We expect a strategic jump from execution, from specific behaviors, and from addressing a challenge in the core business. We are deliberately building talent for future needs and roles we don’t have today.” ~ CTO, Global Manufacturer.

Why should you care? Trends in talent bench-strength and leadership development are impacted by the sharp increase in globalization. By 2013 50% of world GDP came from developing countries; the IMF projects that percent will continue to rise sharply. Demographic trends also impact development, with Millennials entering the workforce with high expectations for leading; Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2015.

High Potential Leaders are a Strategic Priority

Deloitte’s 2014 Global Human Capital Trends survey encompassed 2532 leaders in 94 countries. Leaders identified urgent / important trends, including:

86% of leaders noted an urgent need to accelerate and broaden targeted leadership development

79% are concerned about employee retention and engagement

Just 8% consider their leadership development programs address necessary global experience and skill set development

Our North American research confirmed Deloitte’s conclusions; leadership capacity and capability is the top priority for Chief Talent and Chief Learning Officers. The priority is sector independent. ”Our plan is integrated & central, is one of 4 strategy pillars of the organization, & is fully embraced by CEO & senior leadership.” ~ CTO, Mining and Energy. “We are developing a center of excellence to play a consulting role with increased rigor and are challenged to raise the quality of the program – for our HIPOs, for the pool, and for the business lines. Our HIPO program is fully integrated to strategic priorities & business operational strategies.” ~ CTO, Global Bank. HIPO programs are essential to building your sustainable leadership bench-strength– whether your program focuses on junior leaders with early promise potential or on leaders with senior executive potential who need to be seasoned in global roles. Why? There is a 4 wave war-on-talent tsunami heading your way!

How do you recognize / select a potential HIPO? We asked Chief Talent Officers (CTOs) exactly what they looked for in HIPOs. HIPOs Top 4 Desirable Characteristics:

1.Mobile with global/international experience

2.Strong performance track record

3.Potential to see breadth across organization

4.Ability/potential to cross lines of business

CTOs use the 9 box matrix to help leaders determine potential and performance. A combination of skills, behaviors, and attitudes determine selection into HIPO programs. We also recommend impact identifiers for learning agility and social capital as foundational selection criteria.

Develop Your High Potential Leaders

Which program elements result in a world-class HIPO development program? We have done the analysis for you! First we worked with a cadre of Fortune 500 CTOs to clarify and exhaustive list of elements included in the best HIPO programs. Next, from that list, we asked high potential leaders to list exactly which program elements resulted in the best development. Note that a funded MBA program did not hit the top 5 elements!
Top 5 Characteristics of a World Class HIPO Development Program:
# Characteristics of a World Class HIPO Development Program HIPO Score
1 In-Division Stretch Assignment 84%
2 New Division, Enterprise-wide or New Geography Assignment 83%
3 Risk-taking Opportunities Assigned 83%
4 Assignment to Known Trouble Spot (Crucible Role) 67%
5 Action Learning 58%

Engage Your High Potential Leaders

Next, we used research to identify an array of potentially engaging and motivating activities for high-potential leaders. Then we asked high potential leaders to consider the list of what organizations could do to engage them and drive increased loyalty. Their answers surprised us! Your HIPOs want to know they are in the pool. We can help if you are concerned about how to couch that message to avoid entitlement of the HIPOs and demotivation of folks not selected.
Top 4 HIPO Engagement Options:
# Engagement Option HIPO Score
1 Selected for HIPO / Accelerated Development Track 96%
2 Senior Executive / Board Presentations & Results Reporting 84%
3 Senior Executive / Board Networking 83%
4 Represent Organization on Internal Committees or External Boards 69%


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