Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Elwood F. Holton, III


Business organizations spend a great of resources identifying and developing high potential leaders to ensure the continuity of their enterprises. Much of the time and money spent identifying potential leaders is applied inappropriately to employees who are not potential leaders. Many of these valuable employees enter the leadership stream seeking recognition only to find frustration and disappointment. The purpose of this study was to develop a cost effective tool that accurately identifies potential leaders from new professional employees entering a midsize specialty chemical company. By identifying potential leaders early in their employment career, time and energy could be devoted to developing the employees with true leadership potential. The development of the instrument involved extensive interviews with organizational leaders to determine what behaviors constituted desirable leadership behaviors. The resulting sixty statement instrument was completed by supervisors of the 330 participants in a concurrent validity designed study. A factor analysis reduced the items to four factors, three of which emerged as important for predicting potential leadership: courageous decision making, networking, and perceived motivation. Logistic regression was used to test the instrument's ability to differentiate between groups. In the first test, the instrument was able to correctly predict membership in the high potential group (83.1% accuracy) with courageous problem solving as the most significant factor (N = 264). In the second test, perceived motivation was significant in predicting high performance (90.8% accuracy) within the group of high potential leaders (N = 95). Finally, networking was significant (76.5% accuracy) for predicting potential leaders from the group of new professional employees (N = 66). These findings are promising. The instrument was able to identify new employees with leadership potential, but more work needs to be done. A number of potential leaders (28%) were incorrectly identified by the instrument. Future research is needed to determine if the instrument or the leadership selection process within the organization can be refined. This was the first step in a process of developing a cost effective leadership potential instrument. Additional longitudinal research is needed to verify the applicability of this instrument.