Become Your Own High Potential: Part 2—Assess Yourself

In the previous article, we discussed what high potentials are, why you need to become your own high potential, and how to craft a vision for yourself and your career.

Now that you know your vision, we move on to assessment, which means taking a frank look at your strengths, limitations, and development needs in relation to the vision you set out for yourself.


Assessment is a key component of high potential programs. Organizations use them not only to determine who is a high potential, but also to more deeply understand the individuals in their leadership pipeline. For example, Hogan Assessment’s model for identifying and developing high potentials includes assessing an individual’s (a) potential for leadership, (b) likelihood of emerging as a leader, and (c) ability to successfully lead teams toward productive outcomes.


Organizations use a battery of instruments to assess high potentials’ personality, cognitive skills, learning ability, and job-related and leadership competencies. Allan Church and Christopher Rotolo’s 2013 survey of 84 multinational companies provides more insights about high potential assessment practices (see infograph). They found that most of the organizations they surveyed assess their high potentials’ development needs using, on average, four to five different instruments to help create a complete picture of the individual.

Assess infograph

So how can you get in on the action? Create your own assessments or select from the wide variety of tools available through books (e.g., What Color is Your Parachute?), scholarly research (e.g., McCrae and Costa’s Five-Factor Personality Model), or assessment organizations (e.g., Hay Group).

Be sure to use enough assessments so that you can generate a broad view of your strengths and development areas. This means not only completing a variety of self-assessments, but also seeking feedback from others (preferably from the sort of people who would tell you if you have something stuck in your teeth after lunch).

When you complete several assessments and they all seem to tell the same story, you can feel more confident about the result. (Good assessments also have this kind of reliability built in, so choose your tools wisely.)

Developing a comprehensive picture of your abilities will give you a solid indication of your personalized development needs. You will need this information to move onto the next step in our series: Engaging in targeted professional and personal development.

To identify the right assessment tools for you, try working with a career or executive coach, or take a look at these options:

Assessment Organizations:

Books with Assessments:

What are your favorite assessments? How have you used the results?