Your Talents Could Hurt Your Organization


The more talents and skills you have the more likely you are to take something from nothing to up and running. Talented people who can learn quickly, adapt, and grow are the heart and soul of start-ups. But unless you learn to let go of most of those things, the organization you serve will not be able to grow beyond your incompetence level. Yes, incompetence.


No matter how talented you are, you cannot be an expert on all the skills that your business or non profit need to grow and thrive. The skill set that got the organization from ideation to reality are not the same skills that will take it to the next level of growth. Early in my career as a business leader, I used to spend hours learning how to use software so I could design marketing pieces or edit videos. I had to come to grips with the fact that, regardless of how much I enjoyed the design process, I should not be doing it for the sake of the organization.

Over the years, I had to let go of several other tasks in order to allow the organization to continue to thrive. Last year, I gave the presidency of The A Group to Shannon Litton, our then Executive VP of marketing. It was the right call. Shannon is much better at developing business processes than I’ll ever be. We have seen our best year yet because of her leadership.

The blessing of the talents can quickly become a curse of the talents when you hold on too closely to tasks and lose sight of the overall organizational health. Personally, I had to make a shift in thinking: I had to get my satisfaction from the overall success of my business as opposed to the quality of my own work.  For those of us who equate productivity with success, giving up control and the accolades that come from accomplishing the tangible is a tough thing to do.

But giving up control is not an option for growth. It’s essential.

You might be a talented person, a life-long learner, and an overall amazing individual, but you cannot be the best at everything–no matter what your mother has told you. Unless you learn to define success as reaching the organization’s goals instead of accomplishing tasks, you will go from being seen as the organization’s builder to its choker, where you thwart growth on the anvil of your own incompetence.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone strangled growth? 


  • wow! challenging and refreshing. my take away from your brilliant post: know when to lean in on your talents / strengths and when to hold up or hand over assignments in relation to where your enterprise is at. even leaders need to lead themselves by holding back some things for the good of the enterprise. this has to be by far my most favorite and challenge post from you this year. thanks for your vulnerability. appreciate it.

  • I’m much further down the ladder than you, but this is still valuable. There are parts of my job that I’m not strong in and looking forward I can let go of them because members of our team have strengths that I don’t.

    We complement each others strengths and weaknesses.

  • I’m in that process right now of having launched a nonprofit on my talents and crazy work habits, and am beginning to hand off different responsibilities so the organization can grow. It hasn’t been an easy transition, but a necessary one for sure.

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  • Barb Banks

    I love this, Maurilio. I have seen this happen so many times in the workplace, but I even see this now that I am home. This idea can be adapted to work in a family too. Outsourcing, getting help from friends in areas that are not your strength, letting your spouse or kids do something their way instead of trying to control everything. Great concept!

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