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Important Components of High Potential Programs

High PotenialsWhen developing high potential programs for your future leaders, in addition to the skills development workshops, don’t forget these important components of the program:

  • Learning partners: Ensure that you break the group up into learning partners. Enable for building relationships by ensuring that the group is made up of diverse partners –individuals with a variety of experiences, backgrounds and representing different divisions/departments
  • 360 feedback: A 360 feedback program enables for a better view of the high potential. With feedback from their manager, peers, and staff, the high potential gets a better understanding of their strengths and development areas and how effectively they interact throughout the organization.
  • Collaboration portal: Enable for communication and engagement between face-to-face get-togethers with a collaboration portal where high potential candidates can support each other, get answers to questions, and participate in discussions/share knowledge.
  • Mentoring program: Your high potential program must have a mentoring component. Select a mentor from the executive/senior leadership staff for each high potential. Include a short training session in how to be a mentor and how to be mentored. Don’t assume people understand the role of the mentor or the role of the mentee. Mentors will provide guidance to high potentials and can help them find their path.
  • A problem to be solved/major initiative to be developed: While skills development is necessary to address development needs, you need to ensure that the high potentials can apply what they already know and what they are learning. Work with the executives to determine projects for the high potentials to work on in a team environment as part of the program. This may be business problems to be solved or major initiatives to help the organization meet long term strategic goals.
  • An executive sponsor: The problem or major initiative should be sponsored by an executive who will guide the team through the project. This sponsor should ensure that the appropriate resources and budget are provided for success of the initiative.
  • Readings – articles and books: Assign readings – whether case studies, book summaries, articles, or books – to enable for continued learning and discussions in the collaboration portal.
  • Time to work in other divisions throughout the organization: High potentials must have the ability to work throughout the organization – understanding the processes, procedures, successes and challenges of other divisions and how all the parts fit together to make the whole. Enable for high potentials to have assignments in other divisions/departments and in other geographic locations of the company to expand their presence and increase their business acumen.

Every organization for which I have partnered to develop high potential programs includes most, if not all, of these components. I push for each component to be included in the high potential program. Such programs are an investment by the organization in their future. Don’t shortchange the program. The more robust it is overall, the better prepared your high potentials for future leadership roles.

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