Predicting Actualized Potential - A White Paper

There continues to be great interest in high potentials: who they are, how to evaluate their potential, and how to keep them engaged. Lately, the “Great Resignation” has heightened interest in high potentials, particularly in how to retain them.

We know quite a bit about the steps organizations take to identify and develop high potentials. However, we know little about the characteristics of people designated as high potentials, and how these characteristics help them advance.

In this white paper, Predicting Actualized Potential, we outline current practices regarding high-potential identification and management and summarize the results of our eight-year research program to identify the characteristics of high potentials who actualize their potential over time.

Authored by Dr. Robert Lewis, our Chief Assessor, Predicting Actualized Potential discusses the characteristics of high-potential executives who deliver on their potential.

Topics Include

How High Potentials are Defined

In most organizations, “high potential” is defined in four ways.

How High Potentials are Measured

A survey of companies with top talent-management practices led by Allan Church and his colleagues found these measures fall into three categories.

Which High Potentials Actualize Their Potential?

It is a challenge to separate those who are promoted because they are more likely to succeed in the new, advanced role from those who are promoted due to a manager’s self-fulfilling prophecy.

Which Competencies Predict Actualized Potential?

We found that the competencies that distinguish high potentials who actualize their potential from those high potentials who do not differs by organizational level.

Which Assessments Predict Actualized Potential?

Organizations use a variety of tools to predict “high potential,” including past performance, psychological assessments (personality and cognitive assessments), multi-rater (360) tools, and assessment centers.

Predicting Actualized Potential


The most effective tool for identifying which of your high potentials can best deliver on their potential is a business simulation that forces participants to address challenges two to three levels above their current position and which focuses on those situations likely to be encountered by leaders 3 to 5 years in the future.