Many organizations seek to identify their high potential employees. They provide them good opportunities for growth and development and interesting work assignments. Firms typically invest a great deal in their high potential employees. A recent article in Harvard Business Review suggests that many firms may be going about this process all wrong. They might not be selecting the right people as their high potential employees.
Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, leaders of the Zenger/Folkman leadership development consulting firm, wrote recently about a study they conducted at three companies. They studied nearly 2,000 high potential employees at these firms. Zenger and Folkman used a 360 degree feedback instrument to evaluate the leadership effectiveness of these individuals. Amazingly, they found that 42% of these high potentials scored below average on leadership effectiveness. 12% of the high potentials ranked in the bottom quartile.
What's going on? Zenger and Folkman argue that companies are selecting high potentials using the wrong criteria in many cases. They maintain that many firms select based on technical and professional expertise. Moreover, they examine whether people can deliver results, meet commitments, and fit the organizational culture. Unfortunately, many of these traits might make someone a strong individual performer, but not an effective team leader.