Have you identified the signs? By following the advice of Jennifer and Gianpiero Petriglieri, professors of organizational behavior at INSEAD¹, and trusting the experts at Skillspotting, you can break the curse.

Three steps to break the curse

1. Don’t let your talent possess you

Reducing your own expectations and those of others is not the solution: you become a follower. But neither is denying them: you’re perceived as nothing more than a rebellious spirit. It’s all a question ofbalance.

⇒ The Skillspotting vision: To achieve this balance, you need not only to know how to ask for help when necessary, but also to be able to list your own needs as well as those of your interlocutors, in order to build bridges between the two. It’s inaligning personal expectations with those of the company that true performance comes into play, enabling progress and development (see our article on the IKEA paradox).

As Michael Sanson, coach at INSEAD, points out, “a key shift occurs when high potentials realize that their role is not to produce more than others, but to produce more with others”.

The idea is not to be independent and therefore alone, but to achieveinterdependence, i.e. the ability to create the right synergies.


2. Show your true colours, not just your best.

It’s tempting to show only the polished, shiny aspects of your personality, especially when you value them yourself and others appreciate them. “This is the dimension of ” as if ” personalities, for whom it is essential to maintain the illusion that all is well. [qui] only serves to conceal, in the eyes of others, but above all in their own eyes, a white depression, with no symptoms other than the statement “everything’s fine, what more could I ask for?”, warns Maryse Dubouloy. Yet many people derive their ability to manage flow from their own restlessness, their creativity from their anxiety and their resilience from the various challenges they have had to face, and managers who know how to empathize are sometimes overwhelmed by their emotions. Instead of trying to fight the dark sources of your talent, it’s better to learn how to channel them.

Being fulfilled in one’s work meansfully honoring who you are by putting it at the service of a project that goes beyond ourselves or a collective that seeks to achieve a goal that resonates with us.

3. Value the present

This is themost important step in breaking the curse. Ask yourself: What if my current job wasn’t a springboard but a completion in itself? Invest in the work you’re doing now, make it count, so that you’re enriched by the experience.

And remember: a career isn’t a hundred meters, it’s a marathon (see also our article on time and energy management). That’s why it’s important to adapt your stride to the prevailing conditions, so that you can climb the steps one by one. Of course, from time to time you’ll need to anticipate to get some height, but don’t forget to come back regularly ” here and now “. Learn not to agree all the time with those around you, to accept constructive criticism and use it as an opportunity to challenge your vision of things, so that more powerful more powerful solutions(see our article on the importance of feedback).).

A rite of passage

Breaking this curse is an integral part oflearning to lead. It’s an ongoing process, which allows you to take on new roles. Back to Laura: during a team seminar, she finally confessed that she was thinking of leaving. She presented arguments she’d dwelt on for a long time, and explained how the organization of her department was creating friction between her and two of her peers. To her surprise, what she had already imagined to be a farewell speech was very well received, and the verbalization of her concerns paid off: the structure changed, and she stayed.

In the same way, it’s vital toencourage leaders to seek help within their team and partner teams to create ecosystems that facilitate synergies within the organization. To do this, we need to accept help for what it is: a performance gas pedal, not an admission of shameful weakness that needs to be hidden (once again, we can refer here to the triangle model).

“Most of the measures implemented by companies to manage their HP often have the paradoxical effect of reinforcing their conformism, when what is needed, on the contrary, is to develop their creative and innovative capacities,” points out Maryse Dubouloy. This brings us to the final point of this demonstration: companies too must help break the curse by allowing their managers to deviate from the typical image of leadership that has been shaped by others; managers will then feel less pressured and freer to simply use their talent and engage fully in their work. “Finding a transitional space is an opportunity to evolve anew, to gain in maturity. It can also be an opportunity to make radical changes, to make new progress, to get rid of a false self and build a new identity. Training and coaching (…) can play this role of transitional space”, according to Maryse Dubouloy.

→ It’s in this spirit that Skillspotting offers you managerial courses in blended learning, training and coaching. If you are interested, contact us Contact us: we look forward to helping your leaders break the curse and bring out their situational leadership style!


¹INSEAD: Institut européen d’administration des affaires, a private business school with three main campuses in Fontainebleau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, and a member of Sorbonne Universités. His MBA was ranked No. 1 worldwide in 2016 by the Financial Times.


Sources :

– Jennifer Petriglieri / Gianpiero Petriglieri, The Talent Curse, Harvard Business Review, May-June 2017

– Savannah Horton, The Talent Curse: when your “future leader” label gets in the way of good work, Bowdoin Dayly Sun, April 20, 2017: http: //dailysun.bowdoin.edu/2017/04/the-talent-curse-when-your-future-leader-label-gets-in-the-way-of-good-work-harvard-business-review/

– Maryse Dubouloy, Les ” hauts potentiels ” et le ” faux-self “, in Le Journal des psychologues 2006/3 (n°236), p.22-26 : http://www.cairn.info/revue-le-journal-des-psychologues-2006-3-page-22.htm