How will you coach your “High Potential” people this week?

Let’s start by determining whether or not someone on your team possesses the potential for advancement.  Here’s our formula at Cortex:

Potential = Skills + Resources + Behaviors.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.  What skills does your team member currently have, and what skills will be required for success in a new position?  What resources do they have access to, and which will they need when they start the new position?  Finally, does your “High Potential” team member possess the type of behaviors that will be necessary to be successful in the new position?  If they do not currently exhibit the behaviors that will be needed, what type of attitude and motivation do they need to change?  When you identify the answers to these questions, and think that the person has what is necessary to advance, your investment of time will probably result in your desired outcomes.

People are able to change habits…if they are motivated to do so.  Changing someone’s natural behavioral styles probably ain’t gonna happen.  Let’s say someone has a habit of being too direct at inappropriate times that results in alienating their direct reports, peers, or worse, customers.  You may be able to coach that individual to change that habit by helping them to consider other people’s feelings and by seeing things from that person’s perspective to enable more effective interactions.   If that person is a Driver, or a Beaver, or an Extrovert, or a Red, or whatever behavioral style you would like to use to describe their basic behavioral style, it is beyond your scope to even try to change it.  What you can do is understand that person’s style and tap into what motivates and engages them to change the habits that aren’t serving them, their peers, the people that report to them, or your organization.

The last couple of weeks we have discussed baseline and feedback conversations that you, as a leader, need to have with team members to enable proper communication channels that lead to successful outcomes.  As we continue our conversation around  Leadership Conversations:  Challenging High Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders, (buy this book!) a section that can propel your organization forward, quickly, is around how to coach High Potential people on your team. Spending most of your development time on your low performers may ensure that your Superstars are finding employment elsewhere, leaving you with a team whose results are just mediocre. None of us want that, right? So here are some things to focus on as you coach your High Potentials this week:

FIRST THINGS FIRST:  Does your High Potential person want to lead?  Here are some questions Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz suggest you have them ask themselves.

  • What are my motivations for being a leader?
  • Will I receive satisfaction from developing the capabilities of my people?
  • Can I provide vision and strategic direction to the organization?
  • Is it important to me that my customers and suppliers succeed?
  • Am I willing to consider new factors like social responsibility and globalization?

Hint:  Knowing your answers to these questions can be an even better first step.

ASSESS CURRENT REALITY:   What strengths has this person utilized to be successful in their current position?  Which behaviors have lead to their success?  What strategies did this person develop that has lead to their success?  In their current position did success require that they collaborate or lead others to achieve their success?

COMMUNICATE THE SKILLS NEEDED:  Identifying, for your high potential, the skills they will need to lead others is an essential step in coaching them.  The authors identify these as the most important in managing others:

  • Communicating expectations and objectives to their people
  • Defining and assigning tasks to be done and establishing schedules
  • Delegating work to their people instead of do it themselves
  • Providing resources, measuring performance and giving helpful feedback
  • Building effective relationships with you, their peers, and the team members they serve

Are you evaluating these types of things in your team members but maybe not communicating your expectations to them?  High Potential people have potential because they have the desire to advance.  Knowing what it will take and discussing your expectations with them will be a key component in their future success with your organization.

REMEMBER THIS:  Type A Players like to interact with other type A Players.  Having one superstar on your team is never enough.  You want a team of A Players who have different strengths and aptitudes so they will work together to achieve excellence, as a team, and for your organization, not just for themselves.

You got this!  You are an A Player, a High Potential Person, a superstar, or you wouldn’t even be reading this.  Trust me.  You possess what it takes to achieve your desired outcomes.  Now go out there this week and coach your top players towards reaching theirs.

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