Man sits apart. By Mead Schaeffer, c. 1933. Good Housekeeping magazine?

Why You High Potentials Don’t Get “Tapped” in Your 20s

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers 1 Comment

I’ve written before about the importance of being “tapped” for bigger and better things when you are in your 20s if you are a very high potential on the Jaques scale. During my research for a recent project on intelligence testing, I discovered that Gillian Stamp, the bioss founder (and ex-BIOSS and London School of Economics professor), said something along these lines in her summary of longitudinal research in capability and the Career Path Appreciation:

The idea is that you can predict the final point of longitudinal curves within ±5% if you have data for at least 50% of the lifecycle. You can see how this gets into problems when you have anything that is going to last very long. With good Google data, you can predict how flu breakouts will run because they pretty much die out when sunlight returns. It’s harder or even impossible to predict the peak of the curve if you have something that is lasting years and years.

Like the natural growth and development of a really high potential.

Stamp argues this pretty clearly:

If we apply this to the capability growth curves (see Figure 1), it would suggest that it would be progressively more difficult to predict the final point of the growth curves in those people whose capability will not mature until mid-life or beyond (those whose comfort curves fall within modes VI, VII and VIII). This could explain the widely accepted difficulty for managers in recognizing and acknowledging the potential of these people in their 20s, with the consequence that they are not given appropriate opportunities. This difficulty may be contrasted with the intuitive recognition of the potential of people whose comfort curves fall within modes IV and V — the assumption being that the curve is a straight line and the risk that they nay be overpromoted.

I wish she had pursued this more but I don’t think she did. Maybe it wasn’t of interest to her clients. It certainly isn’t of interest to any of the bioss people I’ve met in the last 12 years.

But it should be of interest to you.

Whole report via GO Society: Stamp, Gillian (1989). Longitudinal Research into Methods of Assessing Managerial Potential (ARI Technical Report 819). Alexandria, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Image credit: Magazine illustration by Mead Schaeffer, ca. 1933. From Good Housekeeping?

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps individuals and companies find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants, both as individuals and as leaders of organizations at least as diverse. [contact]

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