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Measuring Competency versus Leadership Potential


leadership potentialWhen you look to promote, do you assess core competencies or the leadership potential an employee has for success? Or both?

In a recent Harvard Business Review report, yet another way men and women are evaluated differently is uncovered:

After examining their database of 2,800 executive evaluations globally, the Egon Zehnder team found that men tended to outscore women on five of seven competencies that companies more typically use to evaluate managers — criteria such as strategy, change management and understanding the market. Women outperformed men on collaboration and developing other individuals and teams.

The article explains that we can’t just look at experience and past successes as an indicator for future performance; but rather need to consider all aspects of the leadership potential. If companies seek to increase the number of women leaders in their organization they need to adjust their measurement criteria.

 Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us. Wilma Rudolph

Additionally, training programs should reflect a candidate’s leadership potential so that they are provided the opportunities to gain new skills rather than just look at their current competencies.

Training is another word for investment. To truly provide the necessary instruction for those with untapped leadership potential, we must consider the entire person.


Companies that do a better job of measuring potential and shift their culture to urge employees to “bring their whole selves to work” — a phrase common with the Facebook executive and “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg — could help propel underappreciated executives, and particularly more women, to the top.

Examine your current training programs. Do you have a plan in place to identify those within your organization with the most potential and provide them the tools necessary to increase their skill set?

As individuals, we must also recognize that if we don’t current have a skill set that other men have in our department or in the position we strive for – we need to take the initiative to seek out the training necessary. Ask your boss to send you to training that will provide you will the skills you need to be considered for the next promotion.

Invest in yourself. Invest in your company. Look beyond the competencies someone has today and look rather for those that have the most leadership potential.

JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact