Developing high potential talent


Scottish Water provides water and sewerage services to the whole of Scotland. They are accountable to the public through the Scottish Government.

With high retention rates and levels of employee engagement, Scottish Water identified the need to grow their leadership talent pool to accelerate progression to leadership roles and to build the succession pipeline. Increasing the visibility of this breadth of talent to senior stakeholders was a key aim. A direct objective of the program was an appropriate managed move for participants.

A number of challenges were considered, including:

  • Upholding Scottish Water’s value of all employees having talent, while making decisions about leadership potential.
  • Kick-starting individual development journeys in preparation for a two-year accelerated development program.
  • Taking a partnership approach to build line manager and HR capability internally to identify and develop leadership potential.
  • Managing the logistics of tight project timelines to meet the business need.
  • Engaging senior leaders through aggregate analysis of the population.




We partnered with Scottish Water to develop a robust and consistent approach to identifying individuals with short and long-term leadership potential across the business, building the foundation for development journeys in the process.

Scottish Water ‘Talent Spotters’ to shortlist a pilot group to take part in an individual developmental assessment. This consisted of online psychometrics and a semi-structured interview with a YSC consultant followed by a written feedback report and follow-up feedback and coaching session. From this group, a smaller cohort was selected to take part in the Future Leaders Program. Line managers received input on how to interpret the feedback and shape development plans for all individuals in their different contexts.

Following the assessments, in-depth aggregate analyses were conducted to understand common development and cultural themes across the group and to evaluate against wider industry benchmarks.

YSC also resourced Scottish Water to provide specific development for their leaders through:

  • Workshop input on the theme of storytelling and leadership.
  • JDI 360 surveys and one-to-one feedback for a senior cohort of future leaders.
  • A development guide for individuals and line managers full of creative and practical ideas and resources.

YSC has added real value to our leadership talent identification process through the use of the JDI model of potential and robust and insightful candidate assessments. It has been a pleasure working with the team at YSC – they are professional, efficient and refreshingly easy to do business with.” – Strategy, Leadership and Talent Lead


  • Ten managed job moves, including six promotions, took place in the first six months following the Future Leaders Program. All of these represented significant leadership transitions.
  • Positive performance was measured  against Scottish Water’s leadership talent metrics, including demographics (with younger and more female participants than the wider peer group), directorate succession plans, retention rates and 100% completion of development plans for both programs.
  • Positive feedback from the wider business resulted in a repeat of the process the following year, refreshing both the talent audit and Future Leaders Program.
  • Initial high-level themes informed the focus of the Future Leaders Program design to ensure relevance to participants. Further analysis informed the business of how the population benchmarks against other organizations and wider market trends.

Find out more about Identifying & Developing Potential with YSC...

How do you know that you are identifying and developing your talent effectively? Do you have the people you need to achieve your desired future state? YSC's JDI Model of Potential™ can unlock the insights you need to make better decisions.