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  • Hunter Post

Who are High Potentials?

Updated: Dec 14, 2018

Human performance doesn’t resemble the bell curve distribution. Instead, it follows an exponential curve, where the best performers aren’t just a little better, they’re exponentially better.


Figure 1. The Bell Curve

Figure 2. The power curve, where high performers are found in the green

This has been consistently supported in research and is why Alan Eustace, Google’s Vice President of Engineering said,


“One top-notch engineer is worth 300 times or more than the average.”

High potentials are the people on their way toward providing this extreme value.


They are individuals that have the skills, drive, and character to create disproportionately large impacts in their organizations and the world.


They seek continuous improvement and capable of achieving results that are 10X to 1000X, greater than people in similar positions.


What are common traits of High Potentials?


We see 5 key traits consistently:

  1. Driven - They are extremely driven.

  2. Learn Quickly - They enjoy learning and they learn quickly. Rather than memorize facts, they build mental models.

  3. Performance - They are performing at the head of their peer group. They are also frequently performing responsibilities typically done by older, more experienced people.

  4. Conscientious - While they enjoy personal growth and personal freedom, they aim to leverage these areas to grow their impact and help others. In their minds, personal success involves the success of those around them. Their company, mission, colleagues, boss, subordinates, clients, suppliers, and self are all one ecosystem. And they seek positive sum outcomes for the entire ecosystem.

  5. Interdisciplinary Thinkers - They are able to appreciate and integrate different perspectives, technical skills, strategy, people, & politics. While they have holes in their knowledge, they are able to quickly fill these gaps when they are made aware and provided coaching.

These 5 criteria apply to high potential leaders, who can build and develop teams effectively.


Does Alan Eustace’s Google observation about human performance differ from yours? What key traits would you attribute to high potentials?

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