Developing High Potential Leaders in your organisation. Published by Nick Roud, Executive Coach.

by | Dec 10, 2019

Developing your high potential leaders and why forward looking leaders do just that. Published by Nick Roud. Executive Coach

Developing your high potential leaders and why forward looking leaders do just that. Published by Nick Roud. Executive Coach

Todays blog is focusing on high potentials, and, in particular high potential leaders.

We hear that there is a leadership gap around the world, so today I wanted to share a little more around the importance of developing your high potential leaders. Thank you for taking the time to read todays blog.

Published by Nick Roud, Executive Coach, Roud Career Coaching.

You are running a business and have put in a tremendous amount of time, energy and money to have the very best individuals around you. This is wonderful work. So that’s it – sit back, pat yourself on the back and grab a coffee. The hard work is done, just let them get on with things! Well, not so fast my friend, this is only the very beginning. Welcome to todays article on high potential leaders.

Many executive leaders and organisations who regularly work with me share insights that they very rarely get time with their key people, too busy for a 30min chat, always rushing from one meeting to the next, times put into diaries only to be cancelled at the very last minute due to an ‘urgent meeting’. How frustrating must this be for all concerned. Note to all (put time, regular time into your weekly/daily schedule to meet with your key people and make it happen).

Explanation needed here I think, take a look at any successful organisation around the world, we dont need to list them you know who they are you may have even worked within those organisations, take a look at the leader of that successful organisation and see how he/she ensures that space and time IS made for their people. Outcome? Well they are continuing to be extremely successful (and feedback from key staff is just that…..we get time with our leader!!).

I recently had the opportunity to read a wonderful book written by a coach who had worked across silicon valley, 2 things he installed in all his executives that he coached and that was to ensure you met regularly with your key people and to spend time discussing two key things;

1) people

2) product

If it is working for them and they are running some of the largest organisations around the world then I am confident it can and should work for any leader of any size organisation.

Let’s put it another way if I can, when that high potential leader decides to move on in his / her career it may well come as a shock to you, right? People leave people not organisations is a common saying and one I hear a great deal of from professionals no matter the level. But just think about it differently – if you had spent the time with your people, that shock may now turn to one of support and encouragement, not shock!

As we approach the end of year, those leaders who do make the time for their people focus in on a few key areas during their meetings (information gained and shared to me from clients).

  • what are they (and you) trying to achieve,

  • sharing your support and expectations,

  • finding out from them what has gone well for the year, what things might they have done differently given the chance again

  • talking through the wonderful things you have seen from them and things they might want to be across

  • taking the time to thank them for all their support and effort put in.

In your regular meetings it may become apparent that some of your high potential leaders are getting ‘frustrated’, they are eager to progress, they are achieving wonderful things for your business individually and collectively, so – how are you going to keep developing them and how can targeted mentoring, coaching or education play a part in this development?  

Its a question that comes up when I have the privilege of partnering senior leaders:-”Nick this work you and I are doing is great – how can we share more of this with my key people, what can we do?”

To many, great leadership is about constantly working on creating the next leader around them and by doing so individuals, organisations and you will keep evolving and staying ahead of the rest. Business is very much like sport there are winners and those that come second. If you are not identifying your rising leader(s), investing in them – then very quickly that person may well be leaving, to join a better team or a better leader!

Coaching high potential people is a dream come true for me. Having seen first hand and personally coached a number of these individuals over the last few years is a real pleasure. The sheer desire and passion you see in them – to improve, the ability not to settle on yesterday, the honesty, the constancy of actions, the appetite to grow, develop and continue to learn is a sign that our future will be in good hands.

What are some of the ‘common’ things we see in high potential leaders? These are a few specific things that are seen pre our coaching sessions and that have been identified by the organisation.

  1. A high performer

  2. An aspirational person

  3. Understands who they are

  4. High IQ and High EQ

  5. Empathetic 

  6. Potential to succeed in a bigger position

Not all of these need to be currently excelling, but a healthy level across these 6 areas can make a difference when you are identifying high potential people. It should not be a case of ‘oh, I like him/her therefore they will be my next leader’ (but it is amazing how much of this I still see when identifying high potential leaders with organisations…..).

Because of their characteristics, the challenge to organisations is one of keeping ‘high potential leaders’ engaged. Experience shows that poor management and lack of opportunity for growth will soon see your raising star head out of the door. They will find work and should they decide to progress their career elsewhere then that gap left by that individual may be to the detriment of you and your organisation. Please Keep investing in your people (and yourself).

What have high potential leaders got in common?

  • Determination to be the absolute best!

When the call comes in from an organisation to say, Nick we would like you to coach xxxxxxxx one of the first questions I discuss with them is ‘why’.

In the build up to our coaching sessions you can quickly see those that are going to absolutely shape/change the world and those that are going to do a good job!

Here are a few examples of those who are going to ‘shape the world’ and how they approach coaching!

  • “Nick – what do I need to prepare for?

  • “Nick – have you got the results back from those assessments we did? 

  • “Nick – thanks for that book it was really useful and made me think about xxxxxx. 

  • “Nick – I have been thinking about something we discussed in our last session can I have a few mins with you now…….

  • “Nick – we have got this opportunity to do xxxxxxxx can we speak about it now?

  • “Nick – I have been approached about this position

To anyone who coaches around the world you have got to agree working with these high potential individuals is an absolute treat. To be trusted with their inner thoughts – ideas – and the sometimes ground breaking thoughts demonstrates to me that the future of leadership is looking bright. 

I recently had the pleasure of coaching a high potential individual based here in New Zealand, the organisations CEO approached me directly to discuss one of the executive coaching programs I run, Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching and to understand if this would be of support to one of his raising star. 


The individual had been with the organisation for many years and had grown into a divisional leadership position now reporting directly to the CEO. This leadership position was his first real opportunity to work closely with the board of directors and leadership group.

The expectations had significantly changed over night for the divisional leader both from an exposure point of view and stepping into a leadership ’seat’. The CEO didn’t want him to fail but to allow him the time to grow from a Manager to a Leader. The CEO wanted him to get to grips with who he was as a leader and how this would impact on others. It was wonderful that the divisional leader was ‘keen as mustard’ to get going on things…….

During my initial interviews with the rising star it was clearly apparent that he was an individual going places, he described to me what it meant to manage people and how he had built a very successful career to date. The testing we put him through showed he was in the very top percentile compared to other senior executives from around the world. He was not clear on what he was actually good at or the areas he needed support on. He didn’t have a reason or purpose and was just taking each day as it came.

So a coaching program was set up for him and as we approach Christmas things are starting to really make sense to him and the CEO is extremity impressed with how he is growing and the way his natural leadership approach is coming out. Great work and just goes to show with some time, investment and a bit of hard looking in the mirror ‘leaders can step up from management to leadership’.

High Potential Leaders are just as similar to those global sports stars we see igniting our lives around the world. Here are some similarities I have noticed post coaching these rising stars…..

  • constantly looking at ways to do things better

  • get up each day with a plan (not a list of to do’s)

  • understand what they need around them to be the very best they can be

  • are not afraid to get support in order to achieve their dreams

  • not happy to be dropped from the team

  • do not like losing

  • will put in more effort than the person sitting next to them!

  • they think anything is possible (I just love this……..)

As we conclude todays blog – the question I am keen to leave you is this “Don’t forget the importance of creating your next leader” why, because the world needs more great leaders!

Look after yourself and each other,


 Glossary of coaching terms used in my blog today

Coaching partnering with a person who wants to improve, develop and or grow.

High Potential consistently and significantly outperform others in a variety of areas. Individuals that reflect exemplary values in line with his/her organisations. individuals who have a strong capacity to grow and succeed throughout the good times and bad times. Capable of succeeding in a bigger position

IQ a measure of an individuals intelligence levels (based on test results) not what someone says his/her IQ is!

EQ the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. It can be broken down into a number of key areas – each of which has an impact on the way we approach a task and integration. All change starts from inside (inner-core)

Trait the ways in which we generally describe a person

Leader(ship) the process of influencing others in a manner that enhances their contributions to the greater good (individually or collectively)

Empathetic understanding another person’s experience by imagining oneself in that other person’s situation

Aspirational Strong desires to accomplish something. This usually pertains to greater values or high ideals. To reach where you have never reached before!

Partnering the coach ensures that the coachee relationship is one of equals, by being beside the coachee when coaching rather than walking ahead of you.


For a confidential conversation about your leadership coaching needs, call Nick on +6421375630 or email him

Nick Roud

Nick Roud

Executive Leadership Coach

Nick is the Chairman of Nick Roud Coaching and a Global Award Winning Executive Coach. Nick holds the highest coaching qualification MCEC. His clients are typically Chief Executive Officers, Executives and Emerging Leaders. Nick’s office is based in Auckland, New Zealand and he travels extensively around the world to coach his clients. You can contact Nick directly on +6421375630