As followers of my blogs know, from time to time, I comment on articles that impact gender parity and discuss how the points covered can help advance female talent.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Companies Are Bad at Identifying High-Potential Employees by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman caught my eye.
The authors point out the disparity between those chosen for high potential (HIPO) programs, supposedly those in the top 5% of their organization, versus how they fare once they are in the programs. Using the proven 360-degree leadership measurement methodology for assessment, Zenger and Folkman found that over 42% of the 1,964 employees in the tracked programs rated below average in leadership effectiveness.
The article lays much of the blame for the disparity on the criteria used in choosing candidates, criteria which are not accurate indicators of leadership potential. Many of the points made by the authors are especially germane for selecting and developing HIPO women. Here are a few examples of the most frequently used criteria for HIPO programs and why they fall short:
Additionally, the authors point to two key skills lacking in the underperforming HIPOs: strategic vision and the ability to motivate others. In our programs at WOMEN Unlimited, we are especially cognizant of helping women develop these leadership competencies.
In terms of strategic vision, we help participants look at how they can use forward thinking to impact their companies by meshing their competencies with corporate goals. For example, if increasing market share is a corporate goal, a woman can demonstrate strategic vision by developing recommendations and plans that support that goal.
Motivating others is an absolute must for a successful leader. Many of our corporate partners use the term “creating follower-ship,” which means developing an effective team and supporting their growth and development. As a result, that team becomes galvanized to help their leader drive outstanding results.
Over our 23 years of helping organizations grow their female talent, we at WOMEN Unlimited have unearthed another key component to effective leadership: life-long learning. Women must be flexible and reflective, developing relationships that grow and change as they do and continually assessing how to impact corporate success.
Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN, Unlimited, Inc.