Blog Post

Five Ways to Keep Your High-Potential Leadership Talent During the “Great Resignation”

There are two things we are hearing from our clients right now, regardless of their industry or location. First, they’re really worried that their high-potential leaders are going to leave the company. According to the US Department of Labor, in November 2021, the number of people who quit their jobs increased by 3% to 4.5 million, at a time when 10.6 million jobs were open. It is an employee’s market right now for jobs – with the right skills and background, you can practically name your price and your terms. Second, our clients want to know how to better manage their high-potential leadership talent, so those valuable employees aren’t looking for other opportunities.

The lack of leaders, which has been a problem globally for more than a decade, is reaching crisis levels today. Where once businesses were worried about talent succession and not having enough leaders in their pipeline, today they’re worried that their existing leaders will jump ship for a more enticing opportunities offering better career mobility.

Few organizations can afford to lose their high-potential talent. In this blog, we discuss how our clients manage their high-potential leaders in a way that keeps them engaged and continually challenged in their responsibilities.

Understanding Career Flashpoints

A career flashpoint marks those times when a person is promoted into a role requires a new level of skill and offers significantly more responsibility. There are specific flashpoints in the path to becoming an executive. The first one is becoming a manager and managing people for the first time. The second one is becoming a leader and learning how to lead other leaders. And the third is becoming an executive and learning how to think at an enterprise level versus a functional division or department level. At each of those flashpoints in a career, there is a natural readiness that indicates mastery of the current level and readiness for the next. When employees get close to their next flashpoint, they need a new challenge in their current position, or they need to be promoted to the next level. If this doesn’t happen, they will move on to an opportunity they see as more challenging and provides mobility.

LEI's career flashpoint model

This leads us back to the question – how can you keep your high-potential leaders from leaving? Here are five ways.

  1. Recognize when your leaders are reaching their next flashpoint.
    An employee might be seen as the resident expert in a topic area among their peer group, and there might be indicators relating to why that individual is a natural leader and a good developer of people. Managers might be reaching the flashpoint to the next level when their peers begin looking to them for guidance and direction. A division leader might be reaching the flashpoint to executive when they begin to look beyond what is best for their own division, to what is best for the company enterprise as a whole.
  2. Take the risk.
    Recognizing when your high-potential employees are highly mobile and ready for advancement can be a challenge, especially when high potentials are doing great things for the organization in their current role. There’s a definite risk/reward situation, where there is a level of risk to move a good employee into a new role that he or she has no experience with. Moving your high-potential leaders to more challenging roles can leave knowledge or capability gaps in the company. However, this type of change is often good for the organization, because the high potential can grow and add further value to the organization, while another talented individual can step into the role the high potential vacated, helping to fill the pipeline of future leaders in your organization. So take the risk – because not taking it will likely lead to loss of talent and inhibit organizational growth. 
  3. Give your high-potential leaders a path of continuous growth.
    High potentials are driven to achieve, and they’re wired to figure out how to progress in their careers. They want to succeed and shine. If they don’t see a path of advancement in their current job, they will move on to the next opportunity. It’s critical for organizations to be intentional about progressing their high-potential talent. 
  4. Expose high-potential leaders to resources that will help them grow into their career.
    Exposure to resources that help high potentials grow in their career is essential. This includes projects and presentations they might not be quite ready for and must ramp up quickly to rise to the challenge, as well as mentors or leaders further in their career who can offer guidance and support. 
  5. Encourage high-potential leaders to become their own advocates.
    High potentials must learn to advocate for themselves, and to not shy away from asking for advancement or further opportunity. Every high-potential candidate should have a plan for their next level, with a solid understanding of what it will take to build the peer and executive advocacy to get there.


Supporting Your Leaders Through Executive Coaching

Investing in your high-potential leaders – giving them the skills, experience, and guidance they need to excel – is the best way to ensure they remain in your organization. This is often not an easy effort and must be intentional and well planned. Some organizations have the internal resources to handle this, but most don’t.

For 25 years, organizations have turned to Leadership Excelleration to support the development of high-potential leadership talent. We start with an initial assessment to learn about where the high-potential leader excels. From there, we help our clients create a plan complete with career-development strategies. Then, we’ll work with the high-potential leader to launch a career development campaign.

Since 1997, we have helped thousands of high potentials overcome barriers to their career progress, using our unique expertise to bypass the obstacles they have run into to find the opportunities within their company.

For additional information on how Leadership Excelleration can help your organization develop and retain high-potential leaders, download our new brochure, “High-Performing Leader Coaching”.

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