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Getting the Best From Your High Potential Leadership: Spotlight on the 2018 Leading Edge Consortium

Raphael Y. Prager, PepsiCo; Allan H. Church, PepsiCo; Rob Silzer, HR Assessment and Development Inc./Baruch, Graduate Center, CUNY; and John Scott, APTMetrics

Ask any C-level executive what keeps them up at night and chances are that a lack of deep leadership bench is at the top of their list. In fact, only 18% of HR professionals rate their organization as strong in current leadership bench strength (Hanson, 2011). So it is not surprising that identifying, developing, and retaining high potential talent is one of the most critical human capital issues facing organizations today (Silzer & Church, 2009). Changing workforce demographics, the impact of globalization and technology, and increased scrutiny from investors and boards of directors have increased the spotlight on the quality of an organization’s leadership talent pipeline. Further, the war for talent is greater than ever, remaining a critical factor in strategic workforce planning efforts (Manpower Group, 2014).

Data from recent benchmarking studies (e.g., Church & Rotolo, 2013; Church, Rotolo, Ginther & Levine, 2015; McHenry & Church, 2018; Silzer & Church, 2010) show that organizations are investing in programs and solutions to address high potential leadership talent needs. Survey results suggest that this trend has steadily increased over the last 10 years. For example, Silzer and Church’s (2010) survey found that 100% of organizations surveyed indicated that they have implemented a high potential program.

Table 1
Organizations With HiPo Programs, Adapted From Silzer and Church (2010)





McHenry, Church



Silzer & Church



Slan & Hausdorf






Silzer Slider, Knight



However, application of underlying high potential conceptual frameworks, measurement tools, development efforts, and other talent management practices differ widely across companies, resulting in varying degrees of organizational impact.  For example, Church et al.’s (2015) study found that of companies who use assessments to identify high potential, only 28% of those companies reported that these programs had a significant organizational impact 12–18 months following the assessment. This can likely be attributed to the wide variability in assessment methods used, their application within the organization, poor program implementation, and lack of organizational support. With respect to high potential development programs, survey data presented by McHenry and Church in a 2018 workshop showed that 46% of organizations surveyed think their high potential programs are very effective. In addition, high potential acceleration methods that are considered to be most effective (e.g., tracking outcomes and success metrics for learning, holding managers accountable in performance management processes) tend to be the least used (McHenry & Church, 2018).


Table 2
From Church et al. (2015)

Impact of assessments: What would you say has been the impact of the assessment and development process on the performance of participants within 12-18 months of assessment?

Response option

High potentials

Senior executives

No real noticeable impact (0% improvement)



Minor impact (1-4% improvement)



Moderate impact (5-9% improvement)



Significant impact (10-20% improvement)



Dramatic improvement (21%+ improvement)



Too soon to tell




Although significant progress has been made over the last decade in providing clarity via conceptual frameworks to help understand key attributes, predictors, and accelerators of potential (Church & Silzer, 2014; Silzer & Church, 2009; Silzer, Church, Rotolo, & Scott, 2017), there remains little independent guidance for practitioners looking to compare different  practices.

  • What are the latest and best practices to identify, assess, and track high potential talent?
  • Which development methods work best at accelerating their leadership capabilities?
  • How do you keep your top talent engaged?
  • How do you go about designing an integrated and strategic high potential talent management program?

Interested in learning more about high potential leadership talent? Join us at the 2018 Leading Edge Consortium!

These questions and more will be addressed at this year’s annual Leading Edge Consortium (LEC), "High Potential: Identifying, Developing & Retaining Future Leaders." Join thought leaders, decision makers, and leading practitioners in learning about leading edge high potential practices and programs. There will be highly engaging sessions and impactful workshops led by leaders in the field.  Seasoned academics, practitioners, and chief human resource officers from top organizations will share the latest research and best practices, with a strong focus on useful and strategic applications to share with your organization.

This conference offers outstanding and future-focused workshops aligned with changing business needs, and engaging and diverse conference sessions. In addition to workshops and sessions, the LEC will offer many opportunities for networking with thought leaders and other attendees in unique settings (networking dinners, and a welcome reception aboard the USS Constellation!). Major consulting firms and assessment partners will also be on hand to preview and discuss their latest high potential innovations and solutions.

Confirmed speakers include:

Chief Human Resource Officers

  • Marcia Avedon, PhD, Senior Vice President , Human Resources, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Ingersoll Rand, plc 
  • Jane Ewing, Senior Vice President, International People Division, Walmart International
  • Jeff Pon, PhD, Executive Director, United States Office of Personnel Management
  • David Rodriguez, PhD, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Human Resources Officer, Marriott International
  • Carol Surface, PhD, Chief Human Resources Officer, Medtronic

Leading High Potential/Leadership Thinkers

  • Seymour Adler, PhD, Partner, Talent Advisory Practice, Aon Hewitt
  • Bill Byham, PhD, Cofounder and Executive Chairman, Development Dimensions International 
  • Allan Church, PhD, Senior Vice President Global Talent Assessment & Development, PepsiCo
  • Sandra Davis, PhD, Chair and Founder, MDA Leadership Consulting
  • David Day, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College
  • Timothy Judge, PhD,  Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness Executive Director, Fisher Leadership Initiative Professor, Ohio State University
  • Cindy McCauley, PhD, Senior Fellow, Center for Creative Leadership
  • Matt Paese, PhD, Senior Vice President, Succession & C-Suite Services, DDI
  • John Scott, PhD, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of APTMetrics
  • Rob Silzer, PhD, Managing Director HR Assessment & Development Inc.; Doctoral Faculty, Baruch/Graduate Center, City University of New York 
  • Ken Willner, Partner and Vice Chair, Global Employment Law Practice, Paul Hastings Law Firm


“HIP Talks” (Highlights and Insights in Practice)

  • Darin Artman, PhD, Head of Human Resources, European Markets, Australia, and Canada, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Mike Benson, PhD, General Mills, Vice President Talent & Organization Capabilities, General Mills
  • Robin Cohen, PhD, Head of Human Resources Global Finance, Johnson & Johnson
  • Julie Fuller, PhD, Vice President, Organizational Effectiveness & Talent Management, Nike
  • Joe Garcia, PhD, Head Talent Management and Organizational Effectiveness, The Home Depot
  • Alison Hartmann, Assessment Strategy Leader, IBM 
  • Laura Mattimore, PhD, Vice President of Global Talent The Proctor & Gamble Company
  • Karen Paul, PhD, U.S. Talent Development Leader, 3M
  • Raphael Prager, PhD, Director Global Talent Assessment and Development, PepsiCo
  • Lorraine Stomksi, PhD, Vice President Global Leadership, Learning and Selection, Walmart

LEC Workshops (October 18th)

Workshop 1:  Identifying and Assessing High Potential Leadership Talent

This workshop will provide guidance on the foundational decisions that impact the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of high potential programs, including how to define potential, which attributes should be used to differentiate talent, and what specific assessment approaches should be leveraged at different organizational levels. There will also be a discussion on how to make choices that fit different organizational needs and strategies.

Workshop Presenters:

  • John Scott, PhD, Chief Operating Officer and Cofounder of APTMetrics
  • Rob Silzer, PhD, Managing Director HR Assessment & Development Inc.; Doctoral Faculty, Baruch/Graduate Center, City University of New York 
  • Matt Paese, PhD, Senior Vice President, Succession & C-Suite Services, DDI


Workshop 2: Agile Approaches to Developing Agile High-Potentials

Recognizing that business and sociopolitical conditions are changing more rapidly than ever before, many organizations are seeking to develop “agile leaders” who can quickly make sense of problems and trends even in the most turbulent environments, cope effectively with large-scale failure and disruptions, and rally organizations towards a better future. In this workshop, we will review how organizations and those involved in leadership development are defining agility, what it looks like behaviorally, what capabilities or competencies seem most relevant, and how organizations are seeking to develop their high-potentials to be more agile. In addition, we will use a design thinking approach to cocreate with workshop participants a vision for the future of agility (i.e., what agile leadership should look like, how to develop agility). This will provide participants with exposure to a robust and proven methodology (design thinking) that can help enhance the creativity and quality of leadership development interventions.

Workshop Presenters:

  • Jeff McHenry, PhD, Rainier Leadership Solutions
  • Andrew Webster, Vice President of Transformation, ExperiencePoint
  • Robin Cohen, PhD, PhD, Head of Human Resources Global Finance, Johnson & Johnson
  • Lorraine Stomski, PhD, Vice President Global Leadership, Learning and Selection, Walmart


Workshop 3: Building Integrated and Sustainable High-Potential Talent Management Programs:

This workshop will focus on the critical conceptual and design factors to building large-scale, integrated and successful high-potential programs in organizations. It will build on recent benchmark research with top development companies and extensive experience obtained from multiple organizational settings. Organizational applications ranging from early career programs to those aimed at preparing HiPos for the next wave C-suite roles will be discussed.

Workshop Presenters:

  • Allan Church, PhD, Senior Vice President Global Talent Assessment & Development, PepsiCo
  • Laura Mattimore, PhD, VP Global Talent, The Proctor & Gamble Company
  • Seymour Adler, PhD, Partner, Talent Advisory Practice, Aon Hewitt


LEC Organizing Committee

  • Rob Silzer, PhD, Co-Chair

Managing Director, HR Assessment and Development Inc./Doctoral Faculty, Baruch, Graduate Center, CUNY 

  • Allan Church, PhD, Co-Chair

SVP, Global Talent Assessment & Development, PepsiCo 

  • David Baker, PhD

Vice President, IMPAQ International

  • Karen Grabow, PhD

Principal Consultant, Grabow Consulting, LLC

  • Raphael Prager, PhD

Director Global Talent Assessment and Development, PepsiCo

  • John Scott, PhD

COO, APTMetrics, Inc.

  • Lorraine Stomski, PhD

Vice President, Global Leadership, Learning and Selection, Walmart


The 2018 LEC will be held at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, October 19-20.  Preconsortium workshops will be held on October 18 at the same location.

Please go to http://my.siop.org/Meetings/Leading-Edge-Consortium/2018-LEC to register for the LEC conference and workshops and to find more information on the LEC.


Church, A. H., & Rotolo, C. T. (2013). How are top companies assessing their high-potentials and senior executives? A talent management benchmark study. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 65, 199 –223.

Church, A. H., Rotolo, C. T., Ginther, N. M., & Levine, R. (2015). How are top companies designing and managing their high-potential programs? A follow-up talent management benchmark study. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 67(1), 17.

Church, A. H., & Silzer, R. (2014). Going behind the corporate curtain with a blueprint for leadership potential: An integrated framework for identifying high-potential talent. People & Strategy, 36, 51–58.

Hanson, E. (2011). Talent reviews and high-potential identification: Overcoming five common challenges. Retrieved from http://www.ddiworld.com/DDIWorld/media/white-articles/talentreviewsandhighpotentialidentification_wp_ddi.pdf

Manpower Group (2014). The talent shortage continues: How the ever changing role of HR can bridge the gap. Retrieved from https://www.manpowergroup.com/wps/wcm/connect/c2ddd2bc-fa8f-4d7f-8281-6bd96071a160/2014_Talent_Shortage_WP_US2.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=c2ddd2bc-fa8f-4d7f-8281-6bd96071a160

McHenry, J., & Church, A.H. (2018, April). Leadership development programs: Current state and state of the art. Workshop presented at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology Conference, Chicago, IL. 

Silzer, R., & Church, A. H. (2009). The pearls and perils of identifying potential. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 2, 377–412.

Silzer, R., & Church, A. H. (2010). Identifying and assessing high-potential talent: Current organizational practices. In R. Silzer & B. E. Dowell (Eds.), Strategy-driven talent management: A leadership imperative (pp. 213–279). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Silzer, R., Church, A. H., Rotolo, C. T., & Scott, J. C. (2016). I-O practice in action: Solving the leadership potential identification challenge in organizations. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9(4), 814-830.

Silzer, R. F., Slider, R. L., & Knight, M. (1994). Human resource development: A benchmark study of corporate practices. St. Louis, MO: Anheuser-Busch.

Slan, R., & Hausdorf, P. (2004). Leadership succession: High potential identification and development. Toronto, Canada: University of Guelph and MICA Management Resources.

Wells, S. J. (2003). Who's next: Creating a formal program for developing new leaders can pay huge dividends, but many firms aren't reaping those rewards. HR Magazine, 48(11), 44–64.

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