Succession Planning: 3 Traits of High Potential Leaders

This is a guest post by Tamara Anderson.


Have you ever asked yourself, “I wonder how far below the E on my gas tank I can go before I will actually run out of gas?”

I don’t think about it often, but I did on May 18th. That day I drove to work like normal. I noticed that my gas tank was just hovering at the little line right above the E. During the day I left the office to go to two different appointments across town, not leaving myself enough time to get gas. When I got home I was hovering right on the E.

That evening I headed out again to go to a CPR/First Aid class. I didn’t have enough time to get gas…again. But I made it to class. When I left late that evening, my gas gauge was actually below the E. Now it was a game of “How far can I really go?” My heart was racing a little. Every stop light I had to wait at caused a little more uncertainty and a slight sense of panic figuring out what I was going to do if I ran out of gas. Then I saw it. The gas station. One more stoplight and my tank was full again. And I was relieved!

My parents taught me to never let the gas in my car go below ¼ tank, especially in the winter. It gets really cold in ND and the idea of running out of gas on a winter night when the wind chill hovers well below zero is not a pleasant prospect.

Likewise, it’s a bad idea to not have a succession plan in place for your team or you might find your organization on E in terms of having the right people ready for the right roles when you need them.

The need for succession planning has a way of creeping up on us and the longer we wait to do something about it, the more urgent it gets and finally, panic sets in because people are leaving and we have gaps to fill in very important roles within our organization. In order to be prepared for evolution on our team, it’s important we start to identify, develop, and retain our high potential leaders to fill those roles.

Here are 3 traits that will help you identify who your High Potential leaders are:

1. Delivers RESULTS

The High Potential employees in your business are focused and ambitious. Look for those individuals who are committed to growing in their career. They will be the ones who are looking to take on new challenges and add new responsibilities to their role. They strive for new and bigger successes and opportunities to shine. They’re also the ones, that after all of the analysis has been done, information gathered and opinions formed, are willing to take educated risks for the betterment of the organization.

2. Works well with OTHERS

High Potential leaders understand the value of making connections and building partnerships with their team members and other stakeholders. They intentionally take actions that help them to create valuable networks that drive results. You may have a few lone rangers on your team who get things done, they may be creative and ambitious, but they often leave a trail of frustration and broken relationships in their wake. Building strong relationships is the gateway to building trust and rapport with those you lead. It allows you to gain others' willing cooperation and influence more effectively.

3. Continuous LEARNER

High Potential employees are students of your business and the industry you work in. Because they are continuously focused on learning and staying on the leading edge, they become the experts you can rely on. Not only that, but they truly understand how what they do and what’s happening in your industry relates to your organization’s goals.

Start a conversation with your leadership team today so you don’t find your team on EMPTY without a succession plan in place. Identify your high potential employees and begin the process of growing and developing them for their next steps with your organization.

Be the inspiration you want to see in others and thank you for sharing on social media!


Guest Author

Tamara Anderson is a Co-Owner and Team Performance Strategist at Dale Carnegie of ND who aligns business strategies and people practices to drive
results. She has a passion for performance, works to exceed the WOW factor, powers up organizational culture, loves her clients, and expects business results. In a nutshell, she is the fork in the road where culture and strategy meet.