When companies are hiring, they look for people with high potential. When was the last time you were given a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test to see how well you might perform on the job? Lots of companies use this test, but it may not be the best indicator of how well you may actually perform on the job. Instead, it might be better to look at certain traits of an individual to better predict performance. Are their traits that are characteristics of high potential people?

In fact, researchers at the University College London have identified six traits that are consistently linked to workplace success. Out of their studies, they created an inventory called the High Potential Trait Inventory (HPTI).  The researchers emphasis that there is a balance with these traits. Someone functioning with extreme levels may have problems. But here are the traits:

  1. One of the best predictors of work success is someone who is conscientious. These are the people who commit to a task and get it done. Too much of this could make you rigid and inflexible, but high conscientious people are good with strategy. And you can depend on them.
  2. People who can easily adjust to changes and directions do better at work than those who are rigid and inflexible. Viewing obstacles as a growth opportunity and adjusting the path, helps with performance. People who can pivot and change help the workplace adjust.
  3. Can you tolerate ambiguity? If so, you will do well when changes occur or matters of complexity rise up. People who can listen to various opinions and not simplify complex problems, do well with decision-making. They listen, consider and don’t have to have an immediate decision.
  4. Curiosity may kill the cat, but it brings new ideas to companies! Curious people are creative and learn more. Too much curiosity can take you off task, flitting from thing to thing. But a curious mind helps you problem-solve and keep the job interesting. Curious people also tend to report higher job satisfaction.
  5. Courage is needed, especially with conflict and difficult situations. High potential performers know this and take risks to not only put in new ideas, but also deal with on-going problems. Confronting the realities of problems take courage.
  6. Competitiveness, when it is used to move ideas and strategies forward, rather than for personal success, is characteristic of high performers. It can motivate you to do more.

Notice that agreeableness didn’t make the list. While it is a desirable traits, the researchers did not see it as a mark of high performance. Neither did the trait of extrovert vs introvert. That scale may predict your engagement with others,  but was also not a marker for those who perform well. But thinking about the 6 traits listed could help teams develop. Do you have these traits represented in yourself or at work?  And do you have diverse ways of thinking? Are you a high-potential employee or leader?

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