Is Talent Cursed?

In a recent article in the May-June issue of Harvard Business Review by Jennifer and Gianpiero Petriglieri titled the ‘Talent Curse’, the authors posited the following problem:

“When people are groomed as future leaders, they often feel trapped by others’ expectations and fixate on proving themselves worthy. Sometimes they end up blandly conforming to their organization’s established leadership ideal and losing their edge. Sometimes they leave altogether, depriving themselves of an opportunity and the organization of their talent.

The Remedy: High potentials struggle with this “talent curse” again and again as they take on new roles and challenges. But they can grow from the experience by accepting the help they need to thrive, bringing all facets of themselves to the job (not just those that say “leadership material”), and treating the present like a final destination.”

I agree and that’s only one half of the equation. Yes, we are responsible for our own growth. A client of mine has a ‘Fundamental’ (behavior) within their organization that promotes this: ‘Work on Yourself’. It implies that we are responsible for our own growth and they imbue this as part of their culture.

There is more. Many years ago I attended a workshop in Dallas, Texas at a residential lighting conference. The presenter owned a recruiting company. His topic, hiring of course. He started out his presentation with, “There is no such thing as a bad employee but there are a lot of bad employers. For every bad hire you make and turnover, I can find an employer that will find a way to help that person thrive.” That was about 30 years ago and had a such tremendous impact on me. It helped lead to my current place.

The point being that each company has a responsibility to create a culture where the expectation of each and every associate is to be successful, to thrive and grow. And, by the way, not just future leaders unless you subscribe that all associates are future leaders, all associates deserve the opportunity. It is our job to create that environment so no associate must guess about what to do or how to behave. So, what do you do? From the hiring process and all the way through to the performance management process you coach and coach. The company and the associate create the accountability mutually and are responsible mutually for success.