The growing need for identifying potential beyond skills and past results




The growing need for identifying potential beyond skills and past results   

By Vanessa Richardson

Potential by definition is the ability to adapt to and grow into increasingly complex roles and environments.  It is our aptitude to produce results even in an intricate and demanding culture.  In some sense, it is how we measure value and is likely the hallmark of success.  In his book, It’s Not the How but the Who, by executive search advisor Claudio Fernanez-Araoz, he is quoted as stating that in his ‘thirty plus years evaluating and tracking executives as well as studying the key factors in their performance, he now considers potential to the most important predictor of success at all levels, from junior management to the C-suite and the board.’

Historically the focus has been on a candidate’s skill set which seems and often times is sensible, however the primary focus should lean towards value if the expectations are result driven.  The article “Stop Hiring for Skills and Start Hiring for Results”,, emphasizes the importance of knowing exactly what you will want from your hire and recognizing what they can bring to the table besides just their skills. 

According to Fernandez-Araoz, the ability to choose employees with leadership potential will become more critical in the coming years, as globalization, demographics, and underdeveloped pipelines of future company leaders will make senior talent more scarce; making recruiting firms more sought after than ever.  He cites a Boston Consulting Group survey showing that 56% of executives see critical gaps in their ability to fill senior management roles in the coming years, hypothesizing that outsourcing for these roles will become critical. Recruiting for these traits is labor-intensive, complex, and requires a rare set of skills and expertise.  It is predicted the demand for search firms will only increase over time as the requisites of cultural fit, leadership potential, and measured outcomes are at the forefront of preferred criteria.  

While a well-documented solid skill set is nothing to dismiss, it does not always translate to those qualities necessary for tangible results.  Utilizing a third party with the resources and expertise to qualify these candidates not only provides a pool of candidates with the desired skills but will include those who will meet the core values of that particular organization. Evaluating talent, potential, and leadership are abilities that only come from the experience of assessing for these traits over a long period of time.  Knowing the value a candidate can bring to a specific role rather than the skill set may be the very factor that determines long-term success. 


Integrated People Solutions is an executive placement firm in Denver, Colorado, and is part of the Kennedy Executive Network


About Kennedy Executive

Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting is a global partner network of retained search boutiques in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia Pacific with offices in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Monaco, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Sydney and Vienna. The network covers 360 degrees of talent management: executive search finds and assesses the right talent in the market, consulting develops people and organizations. With the addition of Evolve South Africa, Kennedy is now active on 4 continents and in 14 countries and offers a global reach. Between the 75+ consultants and researchers, 30 languages are spoken. As a network Kennedy will run 365 strategic recruitments all over the world this year. Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting helps organizations to achieve their goals and people to enhance their careers every day.




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