News & Insight
February 2014

Help Your Leaders Win Gold in 2018

After an impressive short program in Sochi last week, 19-year old figure skater Jason Brown from Highland Park, Illinois, put himself into medal contention in his debut Olympics. If he reached the podium, he would be the youngest Olympic figure skating medalist since Viktor Peterenko in 1988.

Brown’s exuberant, joyful style has made him a crowd favorite. His routine at the 2014 U.S. Championships has racked up over 4 million views on YouTube. His ponytail is famous for having its own Twitter feed. His blend of technical skill and artistic sensitivity has made him one of the most popular skaters on the planet.

Alas, he placed 9th.

Brown has no quadruple (four rotation) jump. Without a quad to rack up points, the odds were against him. He is working on his quad every day in practice and says he’s close. “I definitely think with that, anything is possible”, he told the Washington Post. At 19, Brown expects to contend in at least the next two Olympics.

Have you identified the Jason Browns in your organization?

Do you know who will be the champions of your company in four years? Are they working on their “quads” every day?

Identifying and developing future leaders isn’t something successful companies do by accident. They apply rigorous processes for singling out these employees and then pinpoint individual areas for development to help ensure the organization’s succession pipeline is robust.

Everyone in a company can spot the high-value leaders (think “gold medalists”) and the derailing failures (think “agonies of defeat”.) These are traditionally the folks who get a lot of attention and often the most development and coaching dollars. But what about the folks in the middle? Who among them is delivering extraordinary value to your company today, and with the right opportunities for development, even more tomorrow?

The future of your business depends on building a pipeline of Jason Browns, but too often they are lost to the competition because they are not effectively managed, incentivized, or developed. Dissatisfaction with potential for career development is a leading reason these “high-potentials” give for leaving their organizations.

There are many ways to identify these folks (and none of them involve counting YouTube views!) Pre-hire assessments, performance reviews, assessment centers, competency models, personality tests, 9-box Grids, 360° interviews, etc. are all used. WJM favors using Hogan’s Job Evaluation Tool (JET) to create a custom “benchmark” linking company-identified criteria to scales from Hogan’s suite of assessments. Current high and low performers at the organization can also take the Hogan as a way to gather empirical data to further validate the output of the JET.

Once these hi-po’s are identified, it is critical to create personal, individualized development plans for each and provide him or her with the experiences, challenges and other support needed to reach the goals listed in their plan. WJM’s Leadership Discovery program helps organizations address talent gaps in their hi-po population through assessment, individual coaching, action learning or other group-based workshops.

For more information about how WJM Associates can help your organization reach the podium in 2018, give us a call.

Tim Morin is the President & CEO of WJM Associates, Inc. (212) 972-7400,

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