How can executive leaders identify high-potential employees?

user pic

Martin Crapper.



In every business, there are those professionals who perform their roles to the highest standard. These “high potential” employees are standout individuals who are highly efficient and excel in their roles. They are valuable assets and often exhibit the necessary skills and aspirational potential to move into managerial and leadership positions. High potential employees are always eager to grow, develop, and willing to take initiative. Executive leaders should continually assess their employees and observe who has the highest potential for long-term success. 

One of the ways to assess employees for high potential is using personality profiling assessments. These can be used to help identify individuals with the character traits needed for a particular job role and determine whether they are likely to excel within that position. Before using personality assessment tools, it is important to establish the benchmark for high potential within the organisation.

Below, we discuss some of the key traits of high potential employees.

Highly engaged

As an executive leader, one of the first steps to identifying high potential employees is to observe their level of engagement. It is no secret that the best professionals show dedication to their work and a genuine commitment to the organisation. These individuals are always driven and motivated to achieve results and establish themselves as advocates for their employer. They hold a strong connection to the organisational goals. Truly engaged employees want to grow with the company, understand their place within it, and consistently perform at the highest level, and they have the autonomy and knowledge to do their job well. Therefore, high-potential employees offer greater value because they are productive consistently, which leads to a better-performing workforce. Leaders are responsible for improving business results, so they must identify and reward the most engaged employees.


High-potential employees are autonomous and can work under their own initiative with minimal guidance. However, they are also excellent team players and compound their self-direction with frequent communication with their managers. The best self-directed employees can make correct decisions in their day-to-day and develop a strong sense of comradery and commitment to the wider goals of the company. As an executive leader, you should be able to identify high-potentials as those who can improve their performance and successfully manage their time and professional development.



Strong interpersonal skills

For an employee to be able to move to the next level, they need to be excellent communicators and be able to build good relationships. A good work relationship requires trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion, and open communication. High-potential employees exhibit excellent interpersonal skills and understand how to foster strong working relationships with people across the business and other external stakeholders. Employees who are high potential are often able to handle increased pressure and demands, constantly communicating constructively. These professionals are also critical thinkers, are receptive to feedback, and can coach other team members. As an executive leader, you need to make sure you are challenging your employees to help them grow and continue to build their interpersonal skills and social influence whilst also identifying your relationship needs.


Most high-potential employees can adapt to different tasks and adjust their schedules to complete their duties successfully. There is constant change in the business world, so it is essential that employees can manage and pivot when necessary. When under pressure, most high potential employees remain calm and collected, devising a plan of action to overcome any obstacles. Therefore, executive leaders should observe which of their employees are the most flexible and able to adapt their behaviours and work style to the environment. 

Adaptability is all about showing a willingness to learn new skills, and information, bending and breaking habits, whilst demonstrating an ability to converse with a variety of people. High-potential employees are flexible and focused on learning, whilst prone to think ahead and consistently seek improvements bringing value to others, making them exceptional team members.

To stay relevant as an organisation an executive leader needs the right people (high-potential employees) in the right places which only comes from how leaders shape their environment. 

So, what does an “adaptable person / high-potential employee” look like?

  • A willingness to experiment
  • Are resourceful
  • Unafraid of failure
  • Ability to think ahead
  • See opportunity where others see failure
  • Do not blame
  • Fluid and Flexible
  • See systems and the big picture
  • Stay current
  • Engaged in positive self-talk

Are you looking for a new leadership role?

Redline is an industry-leading Executive Search recruiter for the technology and electronics sector, and we’re committed to matching our clients with the best candidates. We partner with established technology businesses and deliver the best solutions. Redline has an in-depth knowledge of the high technology industry with four decades of experience. We have built trusted partnerships with our clients and candidates, and pride ourselves on being industry experts. Contact us today on 01582 450054 or email us at info@RedlineExecutive.com.


Share article