By Eve Tahmincioglu
In every organization there are people who stand out from the crowd, the people everyone seems to know are going places.
So what are the attributes that stand out to senior leaders, the ones that get employees labeled as high potential?
Melissa Harper, vice president, Global Talent Acquisition, Diversity & Inclusion, Monsanto, No. 43 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 list, looks for “a person who can create what I consider ‘followership’. Can develop others, create a vision, that others want to follow and support.”
Basically, she added, she looks for talent that has “the ability to build relationships, judgment/critical thinking, the ability to be creative and innovative, solutions focused, balance of strategy and action/execution.”
Harper offered 8 attributes that high potentials should possess, some of which helped her rise in her career:
- UNITER – The qualities people noticed early on in Harper were the ability to create and build relationships, to bring solutions and people together to solve for complex business issues.
- SPUNKY – Another quality was that of grit/persistence – which shows up often as a high level of energy, positive and work ethic.
- FEARLESS – “I have never been afraid to just ask someone for advice or mentorship, and encourage the same for others.”
- ADVENTUROUS – The best advice Harper got was to brush aside geographical restraints. “Being from Chicago, and my early career centered there, I wasn’t as open in my early career to relocation. Once I removed that self limitation, my career grew much faster.”
- INTENTIONAL – “What I learned from both of these mentors, is the philosophy of purposeful leadership –leading with intent, developing and building relationships and networks with intent, and being committed to bringing others along – also with intent.”
- EMPATHETIC – Harper learned from her mentors that “if you are going to be a leader, then leading people, developing others, and creating high performing teams takes a blend of vision, strategy and execution. But it equally takes understanding the individual beyond their work lives, and how you blend the unique talents of individuals into a collaborate and high functioning team.”
- AT THE READY – Always being prepared, Harper stressed, “whether it’s being ready for the next role, the next project, or the next business challenge. When you operate in a way that you are planning ahead, thinking ahead, it enables faster adaption to change. The world is increasingly globally complex, and the speed of change is getting faster – so this has proven to be great advice in working and leading global functions.”
- RESILIENT – “Be open, be active and don’t be afraid to be bold. Be open to learning constantly, active in seeking out feedback and insights, and don’t be afraid to be courageous as you own the navigation of your career journey. I have a daughter who is approaching this stage, and I give her the same advice. Count everything as a learning opportunity – even if you’re learning what not to do!”