Does your boss view you as someone clearly marked for advancement, or just another face in the crowd? While there may not be any certain way of determining the answer to that, the odds say that if you have been identified as high potential material, you demonstrate most of the following traits in your day-to-day performance.
You look for solutions. Tomorrow's leaders don't come to the boss today only with problems and rely on him or her for the answers. They arrive armed with at least one or two ideas of their own.
You possess knowledge. Potential leaders don't talk off the top of their heads. They are fact conscious and loath to speak until they have gathered substantial information.
You demonstrate "finishiative." There is nothing easier than starting a project. Seeing it through to the end is what separates the adults from the children. The subordinate who is talented and productive finishes every job he or she undertakes.
You are rattle-proof. The only certainty in business is uncertainty. The individual who can take setbacks as well as frustration in stride and not lose sight of the ultimate objective in the process is a person to keep an eye on—destined to go places.
You don't lose sight of your deadlines. The person on the way up in an organization concentrates on the work at hand, but is always conscious of some sort of deadline, imposed from within or without. He or she meets target dates, can pretty accurately estimate how long a job will take, and keeps his or her superior informed as to progress.
You are communicative. Finally, the person being considered for advancement can use the English language with clarity and precision. Reports—oral and written—are not padded, but get immediately to the heart of the matter. His or her letters say what he or she wants them to say—no more . . . and no less.
Being human, managers are often afraid of someone or something: their bosses, their peers, their people, error, failure. Think you're immune? Check yourself out with this brief quiz:
If any of these seems familiar, face your fear and try to understand in concrete terms what you fear—be it loss of face, a dressing down, exposure of your ignorance, whatever. Then separate the rational fears from the irrational. Once you have your rational fears out in the open, you can take steps toward eliminating them by taking action.
If, for example, you fear that one of your people may be letting you down on some job, make inquiries to see if you can help him or her. In short, there is almost always something specific you can do to eliminate the cause of your fear. And if, upon analysis, you find that there isn't, then what's the point in worrying over something that is beyond your control?