Book Review: Hidden Potential

Book: Hidden Potential  

By: Adam Grant 

Reviewed by: Colleen Jones


The Premise: Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, best-selling author and one of Wharton’s highest rated professors, who dedicates his work life to the study of how people operate, perform and interact at work. In Hidden Potential, Grant’s goal is to illuminate what helps all of us tap into our potential. Grant challenges the widely held belief that greatness is born, not made and sets out to showcase the key learnings that can help each of us unlock our hidden potential. 

The underlying premise of Hidden Potential is that when considering someone’s potential, you are better off focusing less on where they are starting from (accomplishments, experience etc) and more on how far they have travelled to get where they are today (and what adversity they may have overcome along the way).  As always, Grant is a compelling storyteller who leverages data from his own research, compelling stories of real people who have accomplished great things as well as his own setbacks and learnings to effectively build the case for changing how we think about identifying and harnessing potential.  

The Bottomline: At The Roundtable, our ultimate goal is to help organizations unleash the collective potential of all employees in order to realize the full potential of their organization. In Hidden Potential, Grant outlines three key elements that both his research and the experience of others have highlighted to play a critical role in helping everyone find their hidden potential: 

  1. Getting better at getting better. A key part of tapping into potential is embracing the discomfort and potential awkwardness that accompanies it. 
  2. Creating structures that help sustain momentum. Grant calls this “scaffolding,” and it includes your personal practices that will help you overcome obstacles. 
  3. Creating systems that will not only unleash the potential of an individual but also the collective. Grant provides several examples of groups and teams that have enabled the potential of each other. 

Recommendation: Highly recommended. I like to listen to audiobooks and Grant’s storytelling approach makes this an easy listen. Great, practical listen or read for leaders who are looking for different strategies on how to tap into the potential of their team (and themselves!). 

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