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Public Service Commission

Common definitions

Common terms used in the talent review process.

This includes a list of common definitions, organised in alphabetical order.

Critical roles

Critical roles are roles that are crucial to achieving the goals and purpose of an organisation. The interruption or absence of critical roles is likely to cause serious disruption to the running of the organisation. The following risk areas may be considered:

  • Delivery Risk – would a vacancy create significant risk to the delivery of strategy i.e. regulatory, health safety and security?
  • Customer risk – would a role vacancy significantly impact customers?
  • Labour market risk – are candidates readily available in the labour market?
  • Continuity risk – how long would it take to develop/prepare candidates for the role?
  • Retention risk – is the current incumbent likely to leave?
  • Future demand – what is the roles future demand likely to be?


Leadership is an individual’s ability to motivate, guide and influence a group of people towards the achievement of a common goal or strategy. An effective leader is someone who shows leadership capability; openness to leadership responsibilities; and motivation above and beyond values to deliver for the people of NSW.


Mobility is the movement of individuals across the NSW public sector. In the context of talent, mobility is a mechanism to ensure:

  • organisations can access the necessary skills, capabilities and aptitudes to best support the achievement of sector-wide goals
  • individuals can access development opportunities to best support career development.


Interest is an individual’s stated openness to pursue their career-related goals and hopes. This can reflect immediate, medium-term, or long-term career goals. It is important to understand that some individuals may be quite open in expressing their desire to actively pursue their career goals; others may be less open for a range of reasons that may arise from cultural norms or sense of inclusion.


Performance is an individual’s demonstrated capability and level of achievement against responsibilities and objectives.

Performance assessment considers trends over the past six months or longer term, not only observations over the most recent months (dependent on an individual’s tenure in their current role). The assessment of an individual’s performance for a talent review is a point in time assessment, within the scope of the individual’s current role.


Potential is an individual’s capacity to move into roles of greater complexity and scale, demonstrated through a combination of ability, engagement and openness.

The assessment of an individual’s potential is a point in time assessment, it is not a destination. Individuals and leaders develop and change throughout their career. This means that an individual’s potential may change over time.

Components of potential:

  • Ability: Cognitive capacity; emotional intelligence; learns and adapts quickly; leadership ability.
  • Engagement: Values driven; commitment.
  • Openness: Motivation; openness to career progression; openness to leadership roles.

NSW Leadership Academy definition of high potential leader

The NSW public sector definition of a high potential leader has been developed by the Secretaries Board.

A high potential leader is someone who displays the potential to be promoted two levels above their current role within the next five years (one level for PSSE Band 3), considering the following criteria:

  • demonstrates an effective leadership style
  • learns and adapts quickly
  • is engaged and committed
  • is values driven
  • seeks to diversify experience; and
  • is motivated to deliver for the people of NSW.


Readiness is an individual’s ability to manage a workplace transition and perform effectively in a different or more challenging environment. This could include a new role, additional leadership responsibilities, or promotion to a higher level.


'Talent' is a broad term used to describe all individuals who contribute to an organisation’s success.

Talent identification

Talent identification is the process used by an organisation to assess individuals’ performance, potential, and readiness. This assessment is an input to talent review.

Talent management

Talent management is an organisation’s practices to identify, develop, support, and mobilise individuals to meet strategic business needs. The three components in talent management are:

  1. Identify and segment (talent review)
  2. Develop and engage
  3. Mobilise and retain.

Talent management is distinct from workforce planning. Strategic workforce planning is about proactively understanding and planning for the workforce impact of strategic and operational business imperatives, environmental and social dynamics.

Talent moderation (also known as calibration)

Talent moderation (also known as calibration) is the process of evaluating talent identification to ensure consistency within role levels and across divisions, agencies, clusters or the sector.

Talent review

Talent review is the process of talent identification and talent segmentation that informs decision making about outcomes for individuals and the organisation. Talent review is based on a point-in-time assessment of performance and potential that can change over the course of an individual’s career.

Talent segmentation

Talent segmentation is the categorisation of talent within a group of employees. Segmentation can be undertaken by role level and/or within a particular division or occupation stream. Talent segments are defined by performance, potential and readiness assessments (e.g. high, medium, low).

NSW Leadership Academy: High potential, high performance leadership talent

The NSW Leadership Academy promotes excellence in the NSW public sector by enhancing the skills of existing and emerging leaders through a unique suite of development programs.

Incorporating best practice from public and private sectors around the world, each program targets the specific capabilities required to succeed at the next level of sector leadership, while providing bespoke support to maximise an individual’s professional development.

The Academy’s programs are aimed at sector wide leadership and talent development and operate alongside Department/Agency specific leadership programs and the PSC’s Leadership Development Courses.

Individuals nominated for participation in this cross-sector leadership development program represent one segment of an organisation’s talent pipeline.

Talent identification and segmentation is an important process for organisations to undertake and deliver benefits beyond just the nomination of high potential individuals who would benefit from participating in the NSW Leadership Academy.