Written by Marisol Lindstrom, HR Consultant; SPHR & SHRM-SCP; 7/1/16
We’ve seen it happen time and time again, a high potential employee promoted to lead a team. This was obviously the next step. You wanted to provide a growth and developmental opportunity that was going to engage the high potential employee by expanding their responsibility to lead people. Sure they were great at getting the job done, exceeded your expectations in every way with the work they delivered. So, technically, they nailed it! But what’s going on now? They are struggling every day with the basics, and the team members are beginning to be visibly impacted as they become frustrated on having to wait for the leader to get their work done in order to do theirs. The team members may eventually start to leave – if your once high potential employee doesn’t first.
It’s simple; being a manager of others requires a different set of skills than an individual contributor. Although it seems like the right step to promote your high potential to lead others, do they really have the skills and most importantly do they really want to lead?
Five traits to look for in determining if your high potential has the desire and the skill to lead:
- Makes sacrifices – Taking work home because during the day they gave their time to coaching or teaching a teammate. Use their time and energy to continue to learn and grow. They step aside and make sure that their teammates get the credit, even if they were the inspiration and the drive behind the project.
- Acts with integrity in the workplace – Follows through, honors their word and are impeccable and honorable with their actions creating respect and professionalism.
- Takes accountability – When the team has a problem, they consider it their problem too. They take on full responsibility for decisions without working out minor details with their leader, with full understanding of their leader’s decision-making process.
- Motivates others – They are able to explain why something needs to be done, how it can be accomplished and the impact it will have without micro-managing thereby creating a winning environment. They are not afraid to have difficult, professional, conversations.
- Leads by example – They understand that they are role model, not a friend. They are a reasonable person who understands how to limit liability by handling matters fairly and are not in it for “the title” or prestige.
Remember, desire and skill to lead is essential to setting up your high potential for success in leading others. High individual achiever (think of sales) doesn’t always mean they are eager to motivate others to achieve that same success. The high performing individual might not be “wired” to train, coach, and mentor. Finally, the best leaders are always hungry to know better, to do better. That is why they too have mentors and coaches, inside and outside of the organization, to learn from.