High potential leaders are often described as having aspiration or want for leadership, ability, agility and engagement (Bridgespan, 2012; Dries, Vantilborgh, & Pepermans, 2012; Ginther, 2014; Murphy, 2004). They possess superior or rare qualities and skills that enables the possibility of development to help a company achieve objectives (Rebeťák & Farkašováb, 2014). Rebeťák & Farkašováb (2014), describe this as being quite similar to talent where a “talent” has the abilities, skills, expertise, personal qualities and potential for the future. What is missing from Rebeťák’s & Farkašováb’s (2014) description is the principle of aspiration.
This leads me to question, how important is personal aspiration for leadership in being identified as a High Potential and can aspiration be developed in an individual? Are we missing out on capturing a whole pool of talent because they do not display aspiration for leadership for a multitude of reasons such as family, work-life balance, self-doubt or no visible career pathways. Could it be that potential leaders just don’t know about the value of a leadership opportunity? According to the neuroscience of mimetic desire, once someone else shows value in something, we want it and value it as well.
In the context of education, are school principals advocating the real value and impact of the position to teachers and the benefit it has for them as individuals? There is already a suggestion that this may be so as a lack of understanding about the varied and complex aspects of the role of a principal is cited as one of the reasons for a declining interest in principalship (AITSL, 2015, QTU, 2018; The Wing Institute, 2018).
Could it just be that aspiration needs to be defined further. Must aspiration in the context of high potentials be viewed as an aspiration for a leadership position, or could it simply be the aspiration for improvement of oneself?