People often ask me what I do for a living.
That’s especially true when I catch up with past colleagues who most recently remember me traveling across the globe while working at Microsoft, developing it’s top 4% of high potential talent by leading the company’s global high potential leadership programs.
When they ask me what I do today, I say, “I consult with companies to strategize, create or supplement their High Potential Development Programs in order to better support their succession planning efforts.”
And inevitably, the next statement that follows is, “I can’t believe you left Microsoft! But it is so cool what you are doing and sharing your knowledge on a broader basis.”
Then I ask them, a magical question. “Do you know exactly what a High Potential Consultant does day to day with their clients?”
And you know what? Unless they are in Human Resources, Talent Development, or Talent Management, their eyes begin to glaze over and I see that they truly don’t understand what I do. And I understand why.
Because there are not many true high potential leadership (HiPo) consultants in existence, although I remember many colleagues in the corporate world who would have given their right arm for one – me included, earlier in my career! Instead, you find thousands of leadership development firms which just add the term “high potential” on their websites but lack in true substance and expertise.
So thus, this quick post to help bring clarity.
Clients who hire high potential consultants value a specialist with niche expertise in high potential leadership development. One who works with them to substantially increase the performance and retention of their next generation leaders and managers. In a nutshell, a high potential leadership consultant:
- Consults on best practices and strategies in segmenting high potentials from high performers
- Consults on the ideal structure, development components, and implementation plans for new or existing high potential programs, with a goal of reinforcing the values, competencies, culture, and business metrics of the organization
- Provides developmental progress data to upper management and HR, to use in succession planning
- Assesses performance gaps of high potential talent and coaches the HiPos through ideal strategies to reduce them
- Mentors high potential stakeholders (direct managers, HR, business mentors, etc.) on their role and accountability in developing high potential talent
Also, a huge trend we’re seeing is career-savvy talent not waiting on companies to “identify” them. They are taking matters into their own hands by investing in an HiPo coach/mentor on their own!
Anyone worth their weight in gold knows that the differentiating factor between general leadership skills and high potential leadership skills is demonstrated proof of capability.
HiPos have shown what I like to call “flashes of brilliance” up to this point in their companies, but now the leadership is ready to see if they really have what it takes to take on positions of broader scope and responsibility. But how does that really happen?
I won’t bore you here with all the details, but know that a concentrated strategic focus helping HiPos use their differentiating edge to demonstrate the competencies of “impact & influence”, “drive for results”, and “executive presence” is key.
If I can leave you with any 1 piece of advice, remember this: There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to high potential development. RUN AWAY from anyone who pitches you that type of option.
High potential talent want and need a little something extra. Just for them. And determining what “the want and need” is, is our specialty.
Extra Watercooler Talk From Karan:
I’m proud to have worn the “high potential” label throughout my educational and corporate career. I’m also proud to wear the label now, as an impactful founder of a high potential leadership development firm.
It is so exciting to collaborate with our clients and speak to audiences on how to truly differentiate their impact in the business world – and the pros, cons, and accountability of doing so. There is a price to greatness, and the more you are prepared, the more impact you can make.
I also love advising individuals on how to increase their leadership brand capital in a manner where they become labeled as “best of the best” (high potential).
At the end of the day, am I typing out name badges, processing new hire paperwork, or reviewing benefits packages? Not at all. That is not my world. I sit in meetings with people who try to make their high potentials even better than they know they can be.
I also do a million of other things. A board member of various non-profits, a volunteer parent at school events, a jazz concert lover, a foodie and wine connoisseur, a college and pro football fanatic, and the biggest cheerleader for my hubby, daughter, family and friends!
Yes, I love what i do and I love my life.
Optimizing high potential strategy, development, and succession-readiness is a booming business. I work with a full team of colleagues who specialize in the niche area of high potentials, to help with the work load because of the demand.
Maybe the world of high potential leadership consulting looks different at other leadership firms.
But from where I sit, I have a great job with a lot of flexibility and variety. It keeps my mind challenged. I meet a lot of great people from around the world. I get exposed to diverse perspectives. I get to witness the demonstration of true human potential.
And I get to celebrate successes with my clients with a fine glass of chardonnay! It can’t get any better than that!
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