The lessons for business from new Adam Grant book
Adam Grant’s new book looks at how businesses can unlock the hidden potential of staff and help them develop their skills
Albert Einstein, Maria Montessori and Adam Grant, the organisational psychologist, are advocates of continued learning. In his new book, Grant, a best-selling author and professor at Wharton business school in the US, looks at how businesses can unlock the hidden potential of staff and help them develop their skills
Given the challenge of hiring new staff and the labour shortages in some industries, developing your existing team is more important than ever. That is why Grant’s new book – Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things – is particularly relevant for businesses.
Here are some of the key points from the book:
Leaders who admit they don’t know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams
“Potential is not a matter of where you start, but of how far you travel,” Grant writes.
His study demonstrates that character attributes like discipline and resilience are a better predictor of future success than natural skill.
Self-doubt and imposter syndrome are not new concepts
The psychological idea of feeling self-doubt and finding it difficult to acknowledge one’s accomplishments is actually decades old. The question of whether you are born with greatness or it is something you can cultivate is age-old.
Grant believes that everyone has the potential for greatness, and it is up to business leaders to draw it out of employees. He reveals that traditional thinking around developing potential is wrong, and that impostor syndrome isn’t a disease, but a normal response to internalising impossibly high standards. That uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty is a precursor to growth.
Challenge traditional beliefs
There is a widely held belief that greatness is something you are born with – not made. This is the very premise that Grant’s new book challenges. For every award-winning athlete, intellectual genius or musical mastermind, very few stood out initially. He advises that cultivating, nurturing and developing skills are key to development. Conventionally, intelligence is seen as the ability to think and learn, but coming into 2024, the ability to rethink and unlearn is even more intelligent.
One of Grant’s wishes for workplace cultures is for more executives across all sectors to adopt a scientific mindset. A scientist never lets her ideas become her ideologies. This includes an awareness of the boundaries of their comprehension, doubts about their knowledge and an ability to modify their opinions in light of fresh information.
According to Grant, corporate leaders must begin reimagining work-life and learn to do the same because things are moving so quickly. A scientist is always in a rethinking loop which enables the discovery of new knowledge.
Unlock your hidden potential
In his book, Grant writes: “Being a creature of discomfort can unlock hidden potential in many different types of learning.” This is just one character skill the Wharton professor believes can unlock an individual’s potential to do greater things than their background, CV or experience might suggest.
The road to overcoming impostor syndrome is well-travelled. Numerous celebrities, politicians, business executives, and change agents have experienced imposter syndrome and emerged from it stronger, smarter, and more resilient. Many of us are engaged in this trip and war, which we will ultimately prevail in.
Character vs cognitive
Grant implores business leaders to rethink and reimagine, shattering assumptions of what it means to succeed. He believes we invest a great deal of energy in cognitive skills, and not enough time on character skills. Building character skills, such as determination and resilience, is more advantageous than raw talent. Challenging the way we think about talent is key, and bosses who incorporate this into their teams will reap the rewards.
Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things, demonstrates how business leaders can shape themselves professionally and guide employees to overcome obstacles.