Good Research But Not Enough Substance
By Robert E. Kaplan & Robert B. Kaiser
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $19.95, 113 pages
Authors Robert Kaplan and Robert Kaiser cite thousands of executive assessments as the foundation of their book Fear Your Strengths. The authors created the Leadership Versatility Index as a 360-degree questionnaire to measure leadership traits. They recognize four fundamental leadership qualities: forceful, enabling, strategic and operational. Leaders often rely on their strengths exclusively, because those strengths are what have made them successful in organizations. But the authors contend that too much of a good thing can indeed become a weakness. For example, Jeff Skilling of Enron was brilliant and creative but crossed the line and used those strengths for unethical and illegal gains. Leaders are often “lopsided” in their viewpoint: they do not view themselves or the organization accurately (or at least objectively). Overuse of a leader’s skills happen for three reasons: the more-is-better mentality, a skewed mental model or a faulty gauge.
Kaplan and Kaiser are well versed in their topic and offer lots of modern-day examples of leaders overusing their strengths. Their valiant goal of suggesting leaders need to be more versatile in their strengths is positioned well with all the research. The one thing missing is a true action plan and path for how a leader should activate their weaknesses and downplay their strengths. The final chapter left this reviewer wanting more in the way of a true methodology for achieving more balance in one’s leadership style.
Reviewed by Seniye Groff