Karin’s Leadership Articles

Do you know which box you’re in on the performance potential grid? Do you know performance-potential conversations are having and what it takes to get to box 9?

“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked…No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.” -Seth Godin

If you have been told you are “high potential” do you know how many others are in the same “box?” in line for the same jobs?

If you don’t know, you should ask. If these programs are being executed well, those identified as having higher performance and potential will receive extra development and stretch assignments.

Being on the grid can be very helpful.

However the grid is based on perception and opinions. If you are in a good spot on the grid, great but don’t depend on it. If not, don’t freak out take action.

A grid does not define you.

Why Being on the Performance Potential Grid is Not Enough

Blaming the system is soothing because it lets you off the hook. But when the system was broken, we wonder why you were relying on it in the first place.” –Seth Godin

Organizations reorganize. Sponsors retire. Mergers happen. Politics change.

It’s quite possible that all the people who put you on the grid yesterday will be off doing something else tomorrow. Then, the grid is just a grid. Those opinions have moved on.

Performance Potential Grids don’t promote people, people do.

I went back and looked though the grids I had used in my organization as an HR Director years ago. Many names from the best parts of the grid have since been promoted and having strong careers. But other high performance-potential candidates had been caught up in mergers, downsizings, and other drama. Some are still unemployed. There were also people who had been once deemed “lower potential” now holding significant leadership positions.

Don’t wait for the grid

How to Get Noticed as a High Potential Leader

See Also:

How To Find the Perfect Mentor

Your Talent Strategy: How to Avoid This Huge Mistake

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Jon M (@ThinDifference)

    The Seth Godin quote says it all. No one is going to pick you, so pick yourself up and do more, engage more, and build more. We need to be proactive in our work and purpose! An essential message…. Thanks. Jon

  2. Karin Hurt

    Jon, thanks so much for adding that. Yes! Proactive in our purpose. Exactly.

  3. sgodin

    This is a great insight, Karin: Performance Potential Grids don’t promote people, people do.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Seth, Thanks so much for joining the Let’s Grow Leaders conversation. You are an inspiration.

  4. Anonymous

    Karin – very insightful and thought provoking. My organization uses the 9 Box Grid for all levels of management. It is an extremely useful tool for me to determine my leaders and their potential. Until I read your article, it never occured to me that my direct reports do not know where they are ranked on my Grid or have even asked. Yet, they participate in the same rankings with their managers. Great take away. Thanks for always thinking outside of the “Grid” and making me a better leader.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation. I am always amazed how few people ask… I have experienced the same pattern. Of course, sometimes the conversations are difficult if they have a different view for where they should be. Those difficult conversations can be vital and transforming.

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