High Potential Leadership Program

Ben Roulston

By Ben Roulston, Thinka Co-founder,
1 January 2024

Set up high performers with a robust development program to prepare them for leadership roles.

The goal of this program is to invest in high potential team members, preparing them for leadership roles. By nurturing the development of these top performers, the business encourages them to feel valued while, at the same time, proactively sets them up with the mindset and skills needed to establish a ‘leadership brand’.

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Program Purpose

This High Potential Leadership Program trains high performers in leadership skills, so they can establish a strong foundation to prepare for leadership roles. It helps organisations across industries nurture internal talent and create a sustainable pipeline of future leaders. This development program helps high potential employees establish a leadership mindset, self-awareness, and skills in leading teams.

Working with organisations across Australia, we know that leaders face unique challenges. Here are a few of them:

  1. Lack of development opportunities: Top talent are seeking opportunities where professional development is prioritised and valued. Organisations have a significant competitive advantage and a more compelling EVP for attraction, retention and engagement if their people have ongoing access to rich learning experiences.
  2. Rise of ‘human skills’: More and more, organisations are helping leaders develop both technical skills and soft skills. Employees with development plans that focus on soft skills are better prepared for leadership positions, as they cultivate self-awareness and interpersonal skills. This helps them become more aware and capable to work collaboratively with others.
  3. Complex world of work: Living in a ‘VUCA’ (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment means employees need to be able to cope with a changing business environment that presents constant challenges. Covid recovery, economic instability and hybrid working call for more flexible, adaptable skill sets.
  4. Promotion of unprepared talent: Often high performers become managers without the necessary training to prepare them for leadership roles. This places stress on new leaders, the teams they lead, and can compromise business outcomes. By nurturing high performers in their current roles, it means rising stars have exactly what they need to succeed in the next phase of their careers.

Overall, these challenges present a strong case for talent development and investing in high potential employees, so there is sustainable approach to talent management.

Program Benefits

With the help of this program, high potential employees will explore new skills and enhance their capability in areas such as:

  1. Self-awareness: This involves the ability to recognise and regulate one’s own emotions and maintain healthy relationships with others. Employees can improve their self-awareness by engaging in self-reflection, by listening to and taking on feedback, and by developing empathy for those around them. 
  2. Listening: Employees who listen and respond in respectful ways to what people need, build long-lasting connections. This has a positive effect on others and helps to establish trust. Employees who seek to understand other people and appreciate their differences, are better able to maintain healthy work relationships. 
  3. Collaboration: Employees who appreciate different communication styles can initiate collaboration with greater ease. Employees with emotional intelligence and well-developed communication skills know their audience, and actively include all people in conversations and decision-making. 
  4. Empathy: Finding ways to relate to other people’s experiences and the emotions they are feeling, gives employees a better insight into others. When this happens, there is greater cooperation between colleagues to solve business challenges and achieve outcomes. 
  5. Decision making: Employees make well-considered decisions with confidence when they’re prepared and see all points of view. High potential employees can build this capability by challenging old views and biases, researching, and by actively considering each person’s perspective.

By developing potential talent to prepare for leadership roles internally, organisations benefit from greater options for talent acquisition and succession planning.

Program FAQs

What is a High Potential Leadership Program?

Our High Potential Leadership Program is a professional development course specifically designed to support high performers build leadership skills. It aims to provide participants with the skills, tools and resources necessary to step into leadership roles with confidence. Our specialist facilitators have worked with leaders across Australia and offer meaningful advice, practical strategies, and case studies to learn from.

Why should my organisation offer a High Potential Leadership Program?

Being part of a High Potential Leadership Training Program can help high performing employees develop skills, access mentoring and build partnerships across a supportive community of peers. It can also help participants to support each other to build skills through simulations, role plays and stretch assignments. The networking opportunities are crucial to supporting the group of high potential employees to help each other.

Who can attend a High Potential Leadership Program?

This training program is designed for high potential employees. We help participants build competencies in fundamental leadership skills, as well as giving them opportunities to develop their unique leadership style. An organisation might also involve senior leaders in mentorship roles, to support the development of high potential employees and succession planning.

Are High Potential Leadership Programs only available in person?

Our High Potential Program can be delivered face-to-face or as online learning – depending on the organisation’s set-up. It is typically made up of a series of workshops with case studies and tools to support high potential development – so participants can apply skills to their roles straight away. Often these are complemented by coaching sessions with a Thinka coach. Coaching plays an important role in challenging old behaviours and supporting leadership development in each of the participants. Organisations might also opt for a blended program that makes use of eLearning modules and other forms of media.

Example program

Month 1

Values and leadership brand

Discover your values as a base for building your leadership brand.

  • Program roadmap
  • Induction
  • In person workshop
  • Tools for application

Month 2

Strengths and self-awareness

Celebrate your strengths and how these influence your leadership brand.

  • Clifton Strengths survey
  • In person workshop
  • Tools for application
  • Group coaching session

Month 3

Motivation and mindset

Activate a mindset that inspires you to perform and develop your leadership brand.

  • Virtual workshop
  • Tools for application

Month 4

Empathy and listening

Be present and listen to others to build an accessible leadership brand.

  • Virtual workshop
  • Guest speaker
  • Tools for application

Month 5

Communication and collaboration

Speak mindfully and collaborate to strengthen your leadership brand.

  • In person workshop
  • Tools for application
  • Group coaching session

Month 6

Group presentations: My Leadership Brand

Present your reflections and who you are as a leader back to your peers and the business.

  • Group coaching: presentation preparation
  • In person presentations of leadership brand


Delivery Options

In Person Program

Virtual Program

Hybrid Program

Key Outcomes

1. High potentials who cultivate their leadership brand with a conscious intention.

2. High potentials who develop skills in self-awareness and self-regulation.

3. High potentials that develop a strong awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.

4. High potentials who learn fundamental skills that build leadership potential.

5. High potentials that apply this leadership potential by taking on challenges and stretch tasks.

Possible Inclusions

1. Program roadmap

2. Induction

3. Welcome box

4. Workshops

5. Activities (e.g. Hackathon)

6. Guest speakers

7. Tools for application

8. Assets (e.g. eLearning, video)

9. Coaching

10. Participant management

Target Audience

High Potentials

Our in-person delivery option maximises opportunities for robust conversation, experiential activities and intensive group work. This is no ‘death by PowerPoint’ experience – our facilitators are skilled in presenting and leading immersive experiences that get the most out of people. Supported by multimedia, attractive takeaway pages and practical strategies for using back on the job – this in-person approach is valuable for building strong bonds and bringing people together to collaborate.
Our virtual delivery option breathes fresh life into the online experience with its almost ‘radio show’ feel. Our expert facilitators use a combination of multimedia, questioning techniques and break out activities to target micro-skills – with a focus on application. Supported by an online platform hosting custom-built materials, participants can be assured of lively, dynamic sessions that have a distinct bias to action. Going virtual keeps program sessions succinct, sharp and focused on targeting particular skills in a dynamic way.
A hybrid model takes the best of in-person and virtual delivery options and blends them together, so there’s a healthy mix of face to face collaboration and targeted skill building. Depending on the program themes, we work with you to decide what is better suited to getting together in a training space versus what would sit comfortably in an online setting. This flexible combination allows you and your team to get the best of both worlds.
This program is aimed at individuals who show high potential and are strong candidates for leadership. A selection process is generally undertaken to ensure participants will commit to challenging themselves and applying skills to grow their capability. Participants generally bond and form strong peer-to-peer relationships throughout the program.