The acronym BOLO is usually used in law enforcement and it means “Be On the Lookout”. It is usually used when law enforcement officers are looking for a specific person or automobile. Leaders in any group are also supposed to BOLO. Among the things for which leaders are to Be On the Lookout, is High-Potential, or “High-Po” leaders, hence the title BOLO for High-Po.
Author, and leadership speaker, Craig Groeschel defines a High-Potential leader as “One possessing the capacity, character, and drive to become a future catalytic leader. There are certain attributes for which you MUST look if you are going to identify your High-Potential leaders. Of course, being able to identify them is only part of the task. The other part is actually looking for them with the intent to identify them as well as capitalize on their high potential. If you do not identify and capitalize on their high potential, you may very well miss out on a great opportunity for growth.
Let’s look back at Craig’s definition for a moment and break down the three major components of this High-Po leader: capacity, character, and drive.
The High-Po Leader’s Capacity
The simple definition of capacity, as it pertains to people, is the total amount someone can contain or produce. It also deals with someone’s position in life, but we want to deal with the first definition; the amount someone can contain or produce.
Someone may want to be a leader in a group, but do they have the capacity for leadership. What do I mean? What I mean is that you’re looking for someone who is able to contain the level of maturity, grit, and strength that is needed in order to occupy certain leadership positions. This being the case, they will then be able to produce at the next level of leadership. Some may be able to produce at a certain level, but not necessarily above those levels. This is why we should strive to promote future potential.
Promoting based on time in service, or even current production, is not always the best policy as it can lead to over-promoting, or promoting above someone’s capacity. It takes a certain kind of insight to spot those who possess the capacity to not only bring value, but also to grow into that next leadership position.
The High-Po Leader’s Character
Someone’s character is their moral compass; that which directs their actions and their decisions. It is incredibly important that character be both observed and taken into consideration when being on the lookout for high-potential leaders. This again is why promoting based solely on externalities such as time and other such factors is insufficient; you have to look at the heart of the person.
When someone is promoted beyond the level of their character, it will inevitably end in disaster. Many people do not realize that the higher the position, the bigger the fight has to be because the battles are bigger, and therefore the bigger the person’s character must be. There will be temptations that may not have been faced at the lower levels, and the High-Po leader is someone who shows that they will be ready to take on whatever fight may come their way (and there will be fights to come their way) because they have cultivated and exercised strong character traits.
The High-Po Leader’s Drive
The word “drive” can be a bit deceptive because when we hear it, as it pertains to people, it can be easy to imagine a person who is loud and forceful. But, this is not always the case. Someone who is loud and forceful may actually be covering up for some fears or insecurities they have. When we say “drive”, we are talking about those who faithfully execute their duties where they are, while at the same time preparing for more responsibilities in the future. While others are shrinking away from the preparation phase and just hoping to be given something, the driven High-Po leader is doing all they can to learn and be ready for any potential opportunities that may come their way.
In Part 2, we’ll discuss more about identifying your High-Potential leaders and why it’s also important to capitalize on their strengths before someone else does.