Our StoryIn the words of our founder

I started Shockingly Different Leadership in 2008 when I realized that the survivorship of high-potential, high performing leaders in the workforce was in jeopardy. I knew the plight of high-potentials because I have been part of this community my entire life.

Immediately prior to launching the firm, I had 13+ years of success as a corporate High-potential Leadership Development Executive at a Fortune 50 technology company.

As I networked with my peers around the world to curate the best ways to develop and support leaders, I discovered that 3 facts were universal:

  • Workplace dynamics makes it hard for even the brightest employee talent to “dream big & get things done” within their organizations.
  • Executive leaders struggle to gain deep visibility into the true leadership capability and readiness of the talent on their succession plans.
  • Even accomplished leaders and the HR teams that support them, have times when external expert support during initiatives is critical to execution.

As a result of these three factors, I realized the value of sharing my unique expertise on how to build and support leadership development environments which mined the untapped potential of star employees in a way that also increased the chances of retaining them.

I have been blessed throughout my career as an organizational psychologist and leadership/HR strategist, to have had the rare opportunity to cut my teeth on numerous audacious transformation initiatives. I have the even rarer experience of having done so while being a member of 4 different facets of the high potential leader community throughout my career:

  1. As a high potential employee, who was identified as “top leadership talent” and was placed on company succession plans for higher level positions
  2. As an company leader, who mentored and developed my own global organization, and had to identify, develop, and retain my own high potential employee talent
  3. As a human resources executive, who advised the C-suite on the identification, development, and retention strategies for their organizational-wide top leadership talent
  4. As a high potential leadership development executive, who created cutting-edge programs that prepared up-and-coming leadership talent for challenges on the horizon

My “fire in the belly” was to build a consultancy that helped high potential talent become ready to “take the reigns”, be a part of something big and lead incredible initiatives. It was also important to ensure they had an “on-call” vendor partner to help them navigate and execute the very projects that would enchant both them AND their organizations.

And I hand-picked a feisty group of experts, who had the same conviction, to join the firm  – and thus Shockingly Different Leadership was born.

Karan Rhodes

Founder + Chief Executive Officer

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“High-potentials (HIPOs) are individual leaders who have the ambition, drive, creativity, and guts to use their talents to create new products, services, and initiatives that positively impact the business, economic, civic, and charitable communities in which we all live. 


I believe everyone has the potential to be a HIPO.  My passion is in turning their potential into reality and providing expert support for them and those committed to assisting them on their leadership journey”.

– Karan Ferrell-Rhodes

We have partnered with clients across the globe to build their own internal army of leaders who are tackling hairy challenges and big, bold goals.