How to manage a High Intellectual Potential, or HIP?

Judith Sitruk – 6 January 2020 – Temps de lecture : 4 minutes


For our great pleasure, Judith Sitruk, one of our certified MoovOne coaches, talks about her experience with HIP (High Intellectual Potential) individuals.

I am a coach and professional trainer, and I am truly passionate about my job.

I chose this profession when I reached my fifties, or should I say it was the profession that chose me! I just let myself be guided… Very regularly, I meet new people who need support.

I am a MoovOne affiliated coach, and the clients select their coaches directly on the online coaching platform. To help them with their choice, the future participants can discover the biographies and videos of several coaches. They can take all the time deemed necessary to think it over before making a decision.

Whenever I am holding the first session with a new participant, I like to ask: “Before we start, could you tell me in a few words why you chose me?”

And very often, intermingled with logical reasons related to my career path and experience, I hear: “I don’t really know! An impression, the idea that I would feel comfortable with you… You have a way of talking and thinking that feels familiar, that spoke to me…”. In other words, “the right feeling”.

And when this happens, I know for a fact that I am with an HIP profile: someone with High Intellectual Potential.

The connection is instantaneous, and discussions flow freely and seamlessly. Once this contact is made, we can begin our program which will alternate between serious, structured phases empowered by open discussions and straight talking; and phases allowing much freedom to explore everything in parallel. This may seem very disorganized but ultimately, this dual approach converges on the identification of fundamental courses of action.


How do you define an HIP profile?

A definition that I particularly like is: a different quality of intelligence coupled with a singular type of psycho-affective behavior. The neurological functioning of high potential individuals gifts them with superior intellectual efficiency. But at the same time, they are out of step with others and manage emotions differently”.

Looking for examples? Here are some of the problems that HIP individuals often have to face: “I go too fast. I do not delegate enough. I am too impatient… I do not listen well enough. I do not show my emotions. I do not show enough empathy… I jump too quickly from one subject or project to another. My subordinates would like me to take more time to listen to them”.

You probably have already come across this kind of person: an employee who doesn’t stay within the frame, a manager who races ahead without considering your pace of work, a colleague … or even yourself!

Perhaps this is your way of functioning and you don’t like it because this difference can be difficult to handle.


Case study of a bored HIP individual:

Let me give you the example of a young woman for whom even the most difficult subjects were so obvious that she sailed through years of brilliant academic studies without having to take any notes. Quite logically, at the age of 25 she joined a large corporation and was directly given a role with substantial responsibilities. Upon her arrival, her Director gave her a complex file which had already been treated by a senior manager, asking her to read it through and make corrections. She finished the work within a week. With humor, she described the expression on her Director’s face when she brought the file back: he was incredulous and very annoyed. In one week, she had finished a task that the senior colleague had taken one month to do. Not only that, but she had treated the subject in much more depth and her comments were extremely relevant.

The result? “I’m going to ask you to hide this file in a drawer and bring it back to me in two weeks’ time. No one would understand how you managed to do this so quickly. And I wouldn’t be able to explain it.”

Of course, my client found this unbelievable and felt angry. This was made worse by the intense boredom that very quickly set in as she tried to fit in to her company’s work pace. No logic, no meaning. No intellectual stimulation.

During our coaching sessions, I suggested that there was a challenge she could take on: that of developing her managerial skills by empowering the people under her authority to develop their potential. Today, she is thriving in a much more understanding and competitive environment where she is able to fully deploy all her talents.  At last, she feels that she is useful and that her capacities are being exploited to their fullest.


How can this kind of situation be avoided?

If you manage – an HIP profile:

First of all, remind yourself that he or she is not here to take your place! HIP individuals want to work well and fast, and they will have multiple ideas to improve quality and productivity. Their satisfaction lies in seeing the results of the ideas they are behind.

They are curious, eager to learn and want to share. They need to have several things to do at the same time and are generally hyper-efficient when working on things they are comfortable and interested in. They reason extremely quickly because they are unconsciously establishing links between all the elements of a problem. They do not always know how to give a linear explanation about how they achieve their results. This means that they may sometimes not be taken seriously. However, most of the time, they have the correct solution long before everyone else.

If you are ready to accept that the HIP member of your team is more advanced than you are in some aspects of your work, you will be able to put their capacities to the service of the entire team you both belong to.

If you have open-minded discussions with them and take account of their ideas, even the ones that seem completely out of the box, you might be pleasantly surprised!

And they will accept criticism of their weaknesses more easily, such as not always seeing things through, creating PowerPoints that nobody can understand or performance dashboards from out of the blue.

These are the challenges that you can raise together and where your guidance will be appreciated.

I wish you a lot of pleasure in your future interactions with the HIP in your teams!

Judith Sitruk
Certified Coach