The authors are the founders of Career Openers, an organisation that is changing the roles in the labour market. In their opinion, a vacancy is not the starting point for a perfect match, but the competencies of high potential are. The talent agents guide top talent, with a number of years' experience, in their second or third career move, mainly to multinationals. However, before Career Openers is willing to act as a personal broker, candidates have to pass a stringent selection process. This process is used to identify the profile of, what they call, the innovator. This article describes the development of a model used to predict the potential for higher management functions, based on research conducted among a number of multinationals. In addition to selection, the model can also be applied in personnel development and planning.
Head and shoulders above the rest
We have been caught off balance searching for the profile of high potential for a long time. In the development of our ideas we were continuously led to new discoveries, as our original assumptions regarding the potential top manager were repeatedly proven incorrect. The following factors, in particular, were responsible for this process.
In search of a solution for a conclusive model for the recognition of management potential, we collected information on the characteristics used to select young executives and assess management potential from large organisations in the Netherlands. The companies involved in this study included ABN AMRO, Ahold, Campina Melkunie, Centraal Beheer, Coca-Cola, Friesland Coberco, General Electric, Hollandsche Beton Groep, Heineken, KLM, KPN Telecom, Mars, Phillips, Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, TPG, Unilever and others. We subsequently used the lists of personal and behavioural characteristics, supplemented with interviews, in an attempt to compile groups of characteristics that logically belong together. This was done in the hope that more general dimensions would emerge from the data.
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