How to Go Further by Identifying Future High Performers

#1. Look for people who respect wisdom in others.

Contemptuous know-it-alls:

  1. Can’t connect. An over-confident phony keeps everyone, except other phonies, at arm’s length.
  2. Ignore suggestions.
  3. Belittle the experience of others.
  4. Wrongly believe there’s only one way to skin a cat. (Apologies to all cat readers.)
  5. Hold others back. Know-it-alls can’t bring out the best in others because others aren’t that talented.

Questions that uncover respect for wisdom in others:

  1. Who do you admire?
  2. Who has taught you the most? What did they teach you?
  3. What do you admire most about past colleagues?
  4. What are you learning?


#2. Watch for ambition.

People who want to get ahead reach higher than those who don’t.

Are they:

  1. Eager to earn promotions. The operative word is ‘earn’. It might be irritating to deal with someone eager to earn a promotion. Do you really want a team full of people who don’t care about promotions?
  2. Interested in titles. People with ambition enjoy feeling respected. This might include an interest in earning a title, educational status, or certifications. I have coaching clients who are both humble and interested in earning the title of CEO.
  3. Desirous to sit at the table with leaders who have power and authority.

A person happy to go unrecognized will likely remain in the shadows.

Note: The future leaders that Jesus chose argued about who was the greatest and who would get to sit in positions of honor.

The dark side of ambition:

  1. Striving for popularity at the expense of character.
  2. Soliciting favor through dishonest means.
  3. Switching positions on important issues quickly to stay on someone’s good side.
  4. Seeking prestige at the intentional detriment of others.

Note: Passion and ambition are different. Passion is enthusiasm to do well, regardless of recognition or pay. That doesn’t eliminate the value of healthy ambition.

How might leaders spot future high performers?

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