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Circumstantial Potential

Posted by Marcie Van Houten on March 1, 2009


Does a person’s career potential vary depending on circumstances or rather is it the perception of potential that varies?  You be the judge.

One circumstance is whether the person is in the right position or not.  This will likely affect their performance.  If they are not in the right position, they may be unmotivated to show their best side.  Or they may be failing and their managers are unable to see past that to the real potential.

Another circumstance is whether the person fits with the management of the organization or not.  I worked with a guy once that was doing really well within the organization.  Over time, however, some key players within his management chain shifted and he just was not part of the in crowd of that organization.  He got moved around, repositioned with less and less responsibility until finally he’d been assigned to “special projects”.  It was clear that if he wanted growth opportunities, he needed to find a new position.  He did within the same company and low and behold, he was back on track again.  Did his potential wain during that time?  Or were other factors influencing the perception of his potential?

You hear about bringing out the most in a child by having high expectations of them.  So what happens when the child isn’t being held to the same high standards?   Does that child have less potential?

Potential is really a complex thing to ascertain and is dependent on so many variables.  Change one and their potential might come shining through.  Change another and it might get masked and hidden away.  It’s not tangible like performance which is based mostly on the past where goals were set and either were met or not. 

Potential is a fascinating thing to think about.  I plan to do a series of posts in the next few months delving deeper into how organizations assess their employees’ potential.  I welcome your comments about how you’ve seen potential assessed, whether you thought it was an effective method and what variables have you seen that can impact a person’s potential.

In the meantime, think about what overlay circumstances may be either bringing out your best potential or hiding it away.  What can you do to enhance the good ones and remove the limiting ones?

3 Responses to “Circumstantial Potential”

  1. [...] that varies? If it is the circumstances, what can we do about it? Marcie Van Houten presents Circumstantial Potential posted at TalentedApps. Rhett Laubach presents Personal Leadership Insight: Emotional Maturity: [...]

  2. [...] Mark Bennett on Picture PerfectMeg Bear on Picture Perfect» The March Le… on Circumstantial PotentialPicture Perfect … on Is the bell tolling for the be…Picture Perfect … on What I [...]

  3. Amy Wilson said

    Potential is really tricky. It is nearly impossible to strip out the biases of past performance and perception. One thing is for sure, if a candidate does not have at least one upper level supporter, it’s time to find some new circumstances.

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