Craig Groeschel - How to Recognize Leaders with High Potential
We know that the potential of our organization rests in the strength of its people but many leaders lack the confidence on how to spot talent. So today we're talking about how to recognize leaders with high potential.
Welcome to another episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. We are very passionate about building great leaders because we know that when the leader gets better, everyone gets better. If you're just joining us in our leadership community, we release a brand new teaching on the first Thursday of every month. Some months you get bonus episodes and this month is some month. I'm gonna give you a lot of content this month. If you enjoy this, it means a lot to me if you would share on social media. I see a lot of you inviting others to be a part of our community. Also, if you write a review or if you rate it, it actually helps increase our exposure. You can subscribe to the content wherever you listen to it. That way we'll send it to you every single month. And if you want the Leader's Guide, we'll send you detailed notes that you can cover with your team. Just go to life.church/leadershippodcast and we'll send you the Leader's Guide.
Let me tell you what's coming this month. In this episode, we're going to do part one on a very important theme. A week from now, I'm gonna do part two on this theme. Two weeks from now, I am overwhelmed with excitement to tell you what we're gonna do. I'm gonna share with you an interview that I did with my good friend, Chip Heath. He and his brother are the authors of the amazing book called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. This book ranks in the top three of my favorite books that I've listened to over the past several years. It truly is one of the books I recommend all the time. I can't wait to share that interview with you.
Let me introduce today's content with a question. People ask sometimes, What's most important in your organization, your business, your ministry, your nonprofit? Is it location? Is it systems? Is it the culture? Is it innovation? Is it the product? Is it the strategy? Is it the people? What's most important? The right answer is always and only the right people. Why? Because the right people select the right locations, develop the strategic systems, create the healthy cultures, drive the innovative ideas, design the profitable products. The people are always the most important thing in your organization. I always say this. That the potential of your organization rests in the strength of its people.
I'll let you in on a little secret about my leadership and most other leaders would probably tell you this as well. You ready for it? I'm not that good. Many of you are saying, I already knew that. Thank you very much. But the reality is, I'm not. I'm surrounded by amazing, gifted, strong leaders. That's what makes this organization great, not my leadership but the strength of the leaders around me. In fact, whenever I'm assessing an organization, I don't just look at the point leader. I look at the top three or four or five leaders around the point leader because the strength of an organization is reflected by the people around you. What I want to do today is talk about a really important subject and that is this. All of us as leaders want to surround ourselves with great people but many of us are not sure how to spot those with great potential.
So in this episode, what I want to do is I want to talk about how to recognize leaders with high potential. How do we recognize leaders with high potential? I'm gonna call them hi-po. How are we gonna recognize hi-pos? How are we gonna recognize people with high potential? Let's define a hi-po leader. What is a high-potential player? A high-potential player is one possessing the capacity, character and drive to become a future catalytic leader. A high-potential player is one possessing the capacity, the character and the drive to become a future catalytic leader. They are all around you if you have eyes to see them. The problem is so many leaders don't see the potential in the people around them. You know it. If you've been a leader long enough, you've been in an interview with someone who looked amazing. They had the resume, they had the recommendations, they had the charisma. They turned out to be a dud.
Then there's this other person you interviewed and you thought, This might be a risk. I'm not really sure. They're inexperienced but I see something there. And one day that person who felt like a risk is completely crushing it. What you recognize was even though there was a risk, there was also potential and that potential grew into something really really special. How do you recognize those with high potential? The good news is, and I want to encourage you, is very likely that there are high-potential players near you, in your organization, or close by. The bad news is if you don't spot them, you will not keep them. This is one of your most important roles as a leader. You want to identify those with high potential. You want to develop them. You want to release them and you want to move out of their way. Let's talk today about four surprising principles of hi-pos. Four surprising principles of high-potential leaders.
Number one is this. Performance doesn't necessarily equal potential. We could say this. Hi-per doesn't necessarily equal hi-po. High performance doesn't necessarily equal high potential. Just because someone is a high performer in their current role doesn't necessarily mean they're going to have success when they're promoted to a different role. That's why what we want to do is we want to work to promote potential, not just performance. The challenge is this. If you consistently over-promote, and we've all done this before. We promoted someone that wasn't ready, wasn't good in the next role. If you consistently over-promote, your organization will quickly under-perform. This is an issue for so many people.
In fact, if you want to read on this subject, I don't think there's anything better than the Peter principle that's based on the work of Dr. Laurence J. Peter. He wrote a book on this subject in 1969. It so captured the heart of people that it was on the New York Times Bestselling List for over a year. And here's essentially what the Peter principle teaches. That the selection of a candidate for a position is generally based on their success in the current role not on their potential for the intended role. In other words, they're really good right here so we promote them, rather than saying, would they be really good at the next level. You've seen this perhaps in your organization. Maybe there's someone who's really great at sales, so someone promotes them to be a sales manager. They're a horrible sales manager. Their success as a salesperson didn't guarantee their success as a manager. Just because they succeed at one level doesn't mean they'll be successful at the next level. What do we want to do? We want to make sure that we don't over-promote.
Here's what often happens. Employees tend to be promoted until when? Until they stop succeeding. Then they're no longer promoted when they become what? Slightly ineffective. We promote them to their level of incompetence is what others have taught. Those below them end up what? Doing all the real work. There's effective leaders below an ineffective manager. Over time, the effective leaders below get frustrated and they tend to leave the organization. That's why over-promoting is so dangerous. We want to make sure we have the right people leading the right people. So what are we gonna do? We're gonna hire, recruit and promote for the future not just for the present. We don't want someone promoted who's just good for now. We want to make sure this person has the capacity to grow and thrive as the organization grows and thrives.
Principle number one is this. Performance doesn't necessarily equal potential. Let me give you two and three together. Then we're gonna unpack them.
Number two, most hi-pos don't know they're hi-pos.
Number three, those who think they are probably aren't.
Let's start with the third, then we'll go back to two. Let's start with those who think they're high-potential but they're not. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is one of my favorite studies and I'll give you the technical definition of this study. They teach this. It's the cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from elusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. For those of you who want it in layman's language, this goes like this. Studies are conclusive. We generally think that we are better than we really are. You've seen it all the time. Often those with the least abilities overestimate their potential and think they're way way way better than they are. I could prove this many different ways.
I was at a conference one time and I said, How many of you believe that you've above average drivers? And probably 85 or 90% of the room raised their hand because well more than half the people think they're above average drivers. It's just kind of the principle. You overestimate our skills. In fact, one study was fascinating to me. They interviewed software engineers and asked the software engineers to rate their performance. How good are you? Well, 42% of the software engineers ranked themselves in the top 5% of the whole organization. Almost half thought they were in the top 5%. You've seen this before. Someone says, you might ask, How good are you? Well, I'm a nine on a scale of one to 10. And you look at it and you think, You really are a nine. The problem is the scale's not going from one to 10. The scale goes from one to 100.
You just don't know what you don't know. We tend to overestimate our own abilities. You've seen it before. Someone with bad grammar has no idea they have bad grammar. They don't know what they don't know. So, that's why big talkers always make me nervous. If someone's telling me how good they are, how much potential they have, that actually is a little bit of a flag for me. Why? Because hi-pos usually aren't big talkers. The truth is, most hi-pos don't know that they are hi-pos. They do know enough to know that they don't know it all. In fact, that's why I always say that humility is usually a better indicator of potential than misplaced confidence.
Let me say it again. Watch for this in your leaders. Humility is usually a better indicator of potential than misplaced confidence. What happens? When someone is unskilled, they often don't see their own faults. On the other hand, when someone is exceptionally competent, they don't know how rare their abilities are. They're so good at something, it comes so naturally. They just think, Hey, this is easy. It should be easy for everyone. They don't know that they actually have really rare and really exceptional gifts. So, what do we know? When we're looking for hi-pos, we are not looking for well-rounded people.
Number four, that introduces a fourth thought is this. Every hi-po has extremes. Your highest potential leaders, they're gonna be really really extreme and extreme gifts, don't miss this, are matched by extreme weaknesses. Let me say it again. Every hi-po has extremes. Extreme gifts are matched by extreme weaknesses. If you think about the most successful leaders that you know, they are not well-rounded. What are they? They're brilliant at one or two things. They're miserable, they're horrible, they're dysfunctional at so many other things. That's why they surround themselves with other people to complement their brilliance. The stronger the potential, the bigger the shortcomings.
This is so important. Don't let the shortcomings scare you away from the potential. Sometimes those who have the most potential have a lot of weaknesses but they're brilliant in one or two areas. So, in your organization, what you're gonna want to do is look for what the Heath Brothers called The Bright Spots. The Bright Spots. Where is something working? Where's the department that's getting great results? Where is there a ministry that's outshining the rest of the ministries? Where are ideas coming from where everyone else is kinda flat? You want to look for bright spots. And then find the people that are somewhere close to the bright spots. You'll often find a person with high potential.
Let's talk about it from the example of a parent and this may give you more context. Let's say your kid comes home from school with an A, two B's and a D. What do most parents do? Most parents focus on the D. We have to hire a tutor. We have to do extra work to get the D up. That's not a bad plan if you want them to pass the seventh grade but it's not a great plan if you want them to be successful. If you want your child to be successful, what do you do? You focus on the A's. You build where they're great. You're looking for their bright spots.
Let's just stay with the parents for a minute 'cause this is kinda fun. Parents, you got a kid that's driving you crazy. Don't forget this. Your child's greatest potential is often buried in its most frustrating extremes. Wherever they drive you crazy, that immature and underdeveloped extreme, it gives you nightmares, but watch this. Mature and developed extremes change the world. We're not looking for well-rounded. We're looking for brilliance in a few areas. What do many leaders do? Many leaders, they're searching for the right product, the right strategy, the right program. Not you, you're smarter than that. You're obsessed with finding and developing the right people because the potential of your organization rests in the strength of its people. Let's review and then we'll deal with questions. Four surprising principles of hi-pos, high-potential leaders.
Number one, performance doesn't necessarily equal potential. Just because someone is a high performer in their current role doesn't mean they'll have success when promoted. We want to work to promote potential not just performance. Why? If you consistently over-promote, your organization will quickly under-perform. So what are we gonna do? We're gonna hire, recruit and promote for the future, not just for the present. We don't want someone who's just good for now. We also want someone who's good for later.
Number two and three, Most hi-pos don't know they're hi-pos and those who think they are probably aren't. Let's start with those who think they are but aren't. Studies are conclusive. We tend to think that we are way better than we really are. We don't know what we don't know. We tend to overestimate our own abilities. That's why hi-pos usually aren't big talkers. They don't know that they're high-potential players. Humility therefore is usually a better indicator of potential than misplaced confidence. When someone is unskilled, they don't see their own faults, but when someone is exceptionally competent, they don't know how rare that their abilities really are.
So when you're looking for high-potential players, you're not looking for well-rounded people because number four, every hi-po has extremes and extreme gifts are matched by extreme weaknesses. The stronger the potential, the bigger the shortcomings. Don't let the shortcomings scare you away from the potential. What do most leaders do? Most leaders are looking for the right product, the strategy, the program. What's the key to make it all work? Not you. You're looking for the right people because you know, you understand, you embrace, you believe. It's everything that you stand for. The potential of your organization rests in the strength of its people.
Let's ask some questions and dive in for reflection. This is really important. This is where the rubber meets the road. Question number one, two and three, then we're gonna unpack them. Number one, name the players on your team, or your volunteers or your staff, that you think have untapped potential. Name the players on your team that you think have untapped potential. Number two, Why do you think they do? Number three, What will you do to draw out the dormant potential? Let's unpack these. Number one, Name the players that you think have untapped potential.
Now why is this important? Let me tell you why. Because those players right now, if they truly have untapped potential, they are getting bored as we speak. They feel underchallenged, they feel undervalued. When a high-potential player feels underutilized, they're gonna start looking for somewhere else to make a difference. Or if you just cage them, they'll break out of that cage. They'll find somewhere else to fly. You're not just holding them back, and I want you to hear this. If you're undervaluing those with high potential, you're not just holding them back, you're holding back your organization. You eventually become the problem and you want to give them a change to shine.
Question number two, this is important. Why do you think they have potential? What you want to do is you want to dig in and you want to get a deeper understanding. You want language and texture around why you feel like they have potential. What you're doing is you're training yourself. You're looking for patterns. You're trying to get a vocabulary or a mindset or reasons why and train yourself to see what others overlook. Spotting talent is a skill that can be developed. If you follow sports, there are great recruiters that'll go into a high school or college and they'll see potential in players that others overlook. What you want to do is you want to train yourself as to why. Why? What's inside of them that could make them potentially great? When you become more clear on the why with this leader, then you'll hone your abilities to recognize why with other leaders. Why do you see potential? That helps train you as much as it does raise them up.
And then number three, What will you do to draw out the dormant potential? What will you do to give them opportunities because if you don't recognize them and empower them, you will not keep them. What you want to do is you want to work to give them more authority. We've talked about this principle before but I want to do it again. You're not just giving them tasks. What you're doing is you're giving them authority. You're not just giving them something to do. You're giving them something to decide. If you give them tasks, you're gonna raise up followers. You're gonna raise up people who do what they're told. If, on the other hand, you give them authority, you're gonna see what's inside of them and you're gonna raise up leaders. Not just tasks to do but decisions to decide, things to create. You're giving them authority.
I want to remind you what's coming this month. A week from now, we're gonna do part two and what we're gonna talk about then is the four keys to spot talent that others miss. What specifically are you looking for? We're talking about why there's something in them. How do we spot them? Two weeks from today, we've got the Chip Heath interview on The Power of Moments. This will speak to you as a parent, as a spouse, as a friend, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, as a leader. I promise you. I want to tell you thank you for being a part of our leadership community. Again, if this is helpful, please share it on social media. Rate it, review it, subscribe to it and then, leaders, let me talk to you for a second. You know what's coming if you've been here before. You feel pressure. You got a lot of decisions to make. You want to live up to what everyone else wants. Don't conform. Be yourself. Why? You don't have to get it perfect. People would rather follow a leader who's always real than one who's always right.