A recent Linkedin group discussion asked: ‘Given that most of us can master any skill we choose to, with the right support and experience, what makes us attribute ‘high potential’ to some people and not to others?’

I think this is a great question and pertinent to all businesses. I have rated someone as ‘high potential’ when they:

1. Show drive to do what others won’t do. I sat in on a seminar by Frank Furness about 2 years ago on social media, and he showed the audience so many wonderful things. Someone asked ‘Aren’t you worried that someone will take everything that you do and copy it, stealing your IP?’ I loved his reply, (paraphrasing): ‘I know just how hard it is to do what I have been doing, and 98% of people won’t try or will find it too hard to copy day after day, so I am not afraid to give away IP.’ High potential people see that something is hard and go for it anyway.

2. Ask questions to genuinely learn more. You can tell when someone is keen and has drive – they listen intently, ask insightful questions and are actively learning all the time.

3. Have demonstrated an ability to deal with adversity / stress/ difficult workloads and they have shouldered the burden for not only themselves, but others as well.

4. Don’t whinge, blame others or make excuses when things get difficult. High potential people have the ability to ‘get over it’ quickly and move on to the next task. They don’t dismiss the difficult things, they learn from them.

5. Get back up again after falling down or making a mistake.

These areas show qualities of strength, determination, drive and desire – essential qualities (rather than skills) of a good leader that can’t be taught – they are either innate qualities of a person or have been forced through circumstance.

How do you rate high potential? What makes high potential people stand out for you?