How do you identify and develop the future leaders of your organization? How do you know who is going to bring your company or department a lot of competence and energy in the future and who is going to make it slack? These are essential questions for any business that it thinking about achieving or retaining success well into the future.
It is a good idea to compare doing business to running a professional soccer club, which in the end is also a sort of business. But let us focus on sport – top soccer players of today are well-rounded, larger than life athletes who often defy the laws of physics and push the boundaries of psychological engagement. But stars like Ronaldo or Messi would not look so invincible and superhuman if somebody had not noticed their talent early on and created conditions for this prodigy gift to grow. Their current performance, in other words, has a lot to do with the ability of people back then to spot and nurture the potential in them.
Back to corporations, which in many ways resemble sport clubs. Performance is definitely on of the indicators of how well a company is doing. As an investor or a CEO, you want your team to sell as much as possible, outsmart competition and delight the customer. You need the right team to do it. How do you choose it?
John Mattone is an adjunct management professor at Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University and the president of Executive Development Associated, a consulting company that specializes in executive assessment, development, coaching and leadership training. In his judgment, companies need to think of their employees on three levels and by combining these three categories they can systematically peek into their usability in the company.
These three variables are present performance, skills and future potential. Analyzing them might hep understand whether somebody is capable of meeting or even exceeding the expectations in an organization.
Using present or past performance alone would not do the job. Previous success is a kind of indicator that somebody can repeat it in a different workplace or in different conditions, but there is absolutely no guarantee this will happen. There is some likelihood, but there is no guarantee. This is why it is important for managers and decision-makers to understand that there is more to great performance than what had already happened.
Mattone, who is a great leadership training expert, points out to skills as the other dimension of the quality of human capital. You need to know whether your team is made up of competent and qualified people, whether they have the tools to complete the tasks you set out for them.
Finally, it is essential to look at the future potential. It is the hardest category to quantify. You cannot look into the future and see how somebody will be doing, but you can combine your informed intuition with specific metrics to add this piece to the picture.