Bob Kaplan On Why You Should Fear Your Strengths

Posted March 13th, 2013 in Videos

A sage once said, “Stand in terror of your talents.”

At first blush, that may sound odd. Talents are positive, right? But in my experience with leaders, the greater their talent, the greater the risk to their effectiveness.

There are two reasons for this: Not only do leaders run the risk of doing too much of what they’re good at but, as a direct result, they’re also at risk of doing too little of the opposite.

Leadership talents are often arrayed as pairs of opposites – strategic and operational, forceful and enabling, yin and yang. Ideally, the two sides co-exist in a positive, harmonic tension. But, again, often there is too much strength on one side and that often begets weakness on the other side. Take the general manager who is too narrowly focused on getting short term results and doesn’t pay enough attention to strategy.

What to do? Simply put, you have to learn to turn the dial down on the overused side, and turn it up on the underused side – modulating as the situation requires.

Easier said than done, to be sure. Because to change in this way, you need to learn to cling less to what you’re good at and value more what you lack. And that can be a bit terrifying.

But the payoff is exhilarating.