Tips for Improving Your Company’s Leadership Development

by Jennifer Miller on September 21, 2015

in Leadership

When I interviewed Devin Lemoine for the Smartblog on Leadership article, Is your star player ready for a promotion? she offered up excellent advice for companies seeking to develop their leadership talent. Lemoine, who is the President of the leadership development consulting firm Success Labs, had so many great ideas that I couldn’t use them all for the Smartblog post. Devin generously agreed to share a summary of our conversation regarding leadership development practices as they relate to High-Potentials (“HIPO’s”), High Performers, and peer-to-peer coaching. Use this information for your own team, or pass it along to the senior-level leaders in your organization as food for thought.

JM: What’s the difference between a “High Potential” employee and a “High Performing” one?

DL: When helping companies distinguish between HIPO’s and High Performers, the competencies that set HIPO’s apart from High Performers fall into a few categories.  High Potentials tend to show agility around their work relationships, have good critical thinking, and manage change well. They also show an ability to work with others in a variety of situations to get results, and have good perspective on the broader business.

JM: What advice would you give to executives on how to improve the effectiveness of their company’s development of high-potential employees?

DL: The best piece of advice I would give is to make sure development isn’t focused just on technical skills, certifications or degrees.  High potentials can benefit most from developing relationships with important internal and external stakeholders, as well as increasing their broader business acumen. It’s important to understand how the different parts of the organization work together to deliver value.

Many companies focus on identifying high potentials, but don’t really implement development activities and experiences that will actually move high potentials from point A to Point B effectively.  Companies must be specific about those development activities. For example, attending a class is different from identifying three specific people to build relationships with or learning to negotiate the annual budget process and why those things are important.

JM: Many organizations use peer-to-peer coaching as a part of their leadership development process. What have you observed as the benefits of connecting high-potential leaders with one another for development purposes?

DL: It can help High Potentials to be more collaborative rather than competitive.   After all, these people may be leading side by side in the future so it can help to begin the relationship-building process earlier.  Also, those connections/relationships can help companies retain their talent.

JM: What’s a “success story” you have to share about peer-to-peer coaching?

DL: We [worked with a company that] had two managers both in succession for Director roles in different departments.  The Supply Chain Manager was already participating in a formal coaching process but the Maintenance Manager was not. Because the Maintenance Manager saw the transformation of the Supply Chain Manager, the Maintenance Manager reached out to him for feedback and to get advice.  The Supply Chain Manager was able to give him both critical feedback on how he was viewed by other peers as well as connect him with resources that helped him grow and change to become a more competitive succession candidate.  This peer relationship had more impact on the Maintenance Manager’s growth and development than other workshops, coaching and even feedback from his boss.


This is Jennifer. A huge thank-you to Devin Lemoine for sharing her expertise with the readers of The People Equation. If you’d like to learn more about Devin and her team, check out Success Labs at  or on Twitter at @Success_Labs.

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