5 Ways to Shine as a High-Potential

There’s never been a better time to develop your leadership skills. According to Deloitte’s 2014 Millennial Survey, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

Think about that statistic for a moment, because the implications are huge: Within 10 years, Baby Boomers will have all but completed the handoff of leadership responsibilities to members of Generations X and Y. If you’re interested in moving into management, now is the ideal time to raise your hand and take the lead.

Why now?

In anticipation of this global demographic shift, many companies are developing high-potential programs to accelerate the development of their up-and-coming leaders. Deloitte, for example, has a program called NextGen, which aims to cultivate future leaders.

I turned to Monica O’Reilly, a principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP and Chief Talent Officer for the firm’s advisory practice, to learn more about NextGen and who makes a great candidate for the program.

O’Reilly, who is a NextGen graduate herself, explains five ways to stand out and be recognized as high-potential. Even if your company doesn’t have a program like NextGen, incorporating these tips into your work life will demonstrate your abilities to the people who can take your career to the next level.

1. Deliver Superior Performance

Don’t just meet expectations; exceed them. Every time. Being recognized as someone who possesses high potential starts with superior performance.

“The people selected for the program demonstrate a desire to move into top leadership roles, an interest in broadening their perspective across the business, and a strong commitment to developing themselves and others,” O’Reilly says. “But in addition to that, they usually have a strong track record of performance over several years. We choose those who demonstrate higher performance in serving clients and taking care of people.”

2. Cultivate a Followership

Do you have the ability to inspire others to collaborate and take action? If so, you have—or are building—a followership. According to O’Reilly, if you want to be recognized for your future leadership potential, you should be able to cultivate a followership before you get there.

“People will follow a talented leader,” she asserts. “They want to be inspired and motivated.” So learn what makes people tick as well as what qualities they respect (here are a few ideas), then begin to cultivate those traits.

3. Be Boldly Self-Aware

Do you know your workplace brand? In other words, are you aware of the unique impact you make in your office and how others perceive you? If you want a management position in your future, you should.

That’s because emerging leaders must possess strong self-awareness. “Understand your strengths and where you can make an impact,” says O’Reilly. “And then, be brave enough to make that impact.”

If you haven’t yet uncovered your brand or your strengths, try taking a 360-degree feedback survey or asking a trusted manager, mentor, or colleague to describe how he or she thinks you’re perceived by others. Listen for positive traits that are referenced more than once, and then aggressively seek out opportunities to apply those strengths.

4. Think Strategically

To thrive in an accelerated leadership program like NextGen, says O’Reilly, you must strive to think broadly and more strategically. “Question how things could be done better and how to add value to the organization, no matter what role you are in,” she recommends.

For example, let’s say you notice a number of customers with similar complaints about your team’s product. Instead of reacting to each problem as it arises, try to determine the root cause or look for ways that your team might be better able to anticipate customers’ needs.

5. Attract Mentors

One valuable element of a high-potential program is the opportunity to learn and network with others in your cohort. You’ll develop an amazing network of impressive peers who will one day become your network of powerful business leaders.

But don’t wait for the program to start to develop that group of contacts—start establishing relationships with leaders who can mentor and guide you now. When you meet a person you admire, ask if he or she would be open to having a 20-minute informational meeting with you to answer some career-related questions. If it goes well, ask if he or she would be willing to meet on a regular basis. If you get a yes—you’ve got a new mentor.

When you do get the opportunity to take on a leadership role or enter a leadership development program, make the most of it. “If you’ve been selected for any leadership program, embrace the experience.” O’Reilly recommends. “Don’t be passive about it. Immerse yourself completely, so you can develop as a future leader.”

This article was first featured in The Muse.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.

 These bonus opportunities have the power to boost your leadership cred and wholly transform your

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly