How to Get High-Potential Employees Interested in Leadership Development

You’ve probably identified a few high-potential employees who you would like to see take on leadership roles. Perhaps you’ve even offered them opportunities that for some reason, beyond your comprehension, they have declined.

If you’ve been offering a leadership development training program and not seeing much interest, it can be frustrating. Why aren’t people jumping at these opportunities? As a leader yourself, you see the value in the program. You have insider information that you wish to share but they just aren’t listening. 

The question is how to tap into their potential, get them motivated, and on the path to leadership. Finding an employee in which you see leadership potential will get both of you nowhere if they can’t see the same. It can be frustrating. You think you’ve communicated your belief in them, you’ve even offered leadership courses, and yet they aren’t biting. Why? 

Wording matters. Let’s start there.

Take a moment to think through how you have presented leadership development opportunities in the past. How you frame the opportunity can either spark interest or establish an impossible standard under which to reach a goal. 

There are two direct options you can take when presenting an opportunity.

Option #1: How would you like to become a leader? 

Option #2: I would love to set you up with some training to learn leadership skills.

Option #1 is vague. No clear path is set out for the employee. The burden to get started lies solely on the individual. There is no offer of help, no mentorship, and no end goal. “Become a leader” is vague. It is a journey without a clear finish line. Everyone has a different vision of what a leader is or should be. When you ask your employee if they would like to become a leader, you are communicating one thing while they may be hearing something completely different. Chances are they will answer yes, but nothing will happen.

Option #2 is direct. You have already established the “how” and are offering to do the difficult leg work of starting them on the path. It is an investment of your time, translating into your belief in their success. Training also implies a finish line. At some point, the class will end and no matter what their ideas of “becoming a leader” entail, they will have learned specific leadership skills. That one sentence provides clarity of your belief, a clear path, and a finish line. It is inspiring and actionable. 

Once you change your verbiage from “become a leader” to “learn leadership skills,” the people under your care will begin to see their own potential. Keep believing in them. 

People will forget what you say but they will never forget how you made them feel. Use words that work. Being direct about your belief in their ability and also providing them with achievable clear goals will unlock the potential you see in them. 

Contact Susan Word to continue a discussion about engaging your high potential employees.  The Lynch Law Firm looks forward to helping you cause and create your successful employment transactions with your next leaders!


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