Article: HiPos are doers, self-assured

A Brand Reachout InitiativePerformance Management

HiPos are doers, self-assured


Self-assured HiPos never hesitate to seek advice, says R. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Tata Sons
HiPos are doers, self-assured

High Potentials (HiPos) are like diamonds. They shine brightly the most when they are cut perfectly. HiPos display unique characteristics that can easily be identified and then groomed to make them deliver their best.

Explaining this in a very interesting way without any negative connotations attached, R. Gopalakrishnan, Director, Tata Sons, says, “You know when a dog pulls hard on the leash and is almost making you run, it has high potential. On the other hand, if the leash is saggy, you wonder whether it is a high potential. In a management perspective, the HiPos come forth as imaginative hungry people, which is equivalent to the situation when the leash is tight. People who don’t seem that inquisitive or imaginative come through as the ones with a weak leash.”

While some people think hard and long and concentrate on getting an accurate action plan, they miss out on the real action. It is like the tale of the two woodcutters: One used to cut a lot of wood spending an entire day on it, while the other managed to cut double the amount of wood by working only in the last few hours of the day. How did he manage that? He used to spend a few hours daily sharpening his axe before cutting the wood. HiPos are those people who understand that it is important to ‘sharpen your axe’ and also important to cut that branch off in time.

It is important to differentiate the doers from the thinkers and the HiPos are mainly the doers. Thinkers can also be doers if they get the right kind of advice. Gopalakrishnan says, “Usually, HiPos who are self-assured will come up to seek advice, while those who are not so self-assured would hesitate to ask for an advice. Tugging at the leash demonstrates intellectual capability, operational excellence demonstrates itself in the kind of role they are given and self-assurance or self-esteem are the three best indicators of high potentials.”

HiPos have an innate sense of clarity of their capabilities, the goals they want to achieve and the best possible ways to accomplish the same. They are always self-assured and display a high level of self-esteem on both personal and professional fronts. They love challenges and plunge into every task leaving no stone unturned to become successful. It’s their consistency and a do-it-all attitude that makes them stand out.

There is no set metric in identifying a HiPo in the Indian system and it is more intuitive in nature compared to the Anglo-Saxon system where there is a clear roadmap for the HiPo. “In an Anglo-Saxon setup, one gets to know quite easily that he/she is a high potential. From the start, there is clarity on certain metrics like what trainings or courses one has to go through in a certain time period, what kind of movements can one expect every three years or that one must work on a foreign location within the first 10 years. These are simple examples of metrics that ensure everyone understands what is expected out of them to be the high potentials. In contrary, in Indian organizations, nobody is told about such things. Therefore, there are high potentials in organizations but they don’t know of it,” says Gopalakrishnan.

Today, Indian organizations are evolving in terms of identifying and developing HiPos. However, there is a need to streamline these processes with metrics and technology to make them more organized and practical. This would not only ensure a healthier leadership pipeline, it would also let the high potentials have a crystal clear understanding of the path to their success in the organization from the very beginning of their tenure. So, along with introducing a set process for identifying HiPos, it would really help if organizations also create a system that encourages its employees to unleash their potential and develop themselves to be a high potential.

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Topics: Performance Management, #HiPoWeek

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