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Full potential' isn't enough

CEOs who max out their ‘full potential’ still struggle to effectively navigate the complexity of business and life until they boost their 'full potential' to the next level

Why It Matters: We aren’t effective as we need to be under pressure when we reach our full capacity

The Big Picture: Growing unpredictability and complexity challenge our capacity to lead effectively. We all have moments in which we're way over our heads. 


  • As a fighter pilot leader, I was involved in air combats with too many threats, jets, and uncontrolled instances that were beyond my ability to see the big picture.

  • As a CFO, I had days when I felt like the analysts, media, and investment banks conspired to overwhelm me.

  • As a COO, I had moments that felt like the whole supply chain didn’t make sense.

  • As a CEO, some board meetings felt like a political battlefield, and the senior leadership team felt like a group of insurrectionists planning a coup.

Not every day. Some days. And those days weren’t the greatest for my loved ones when coming home.

I was on top of my game in these situations. It’s just that my game wasn’t enough. I maxed out my ‘full potential.’

I wasn’t aware of that then, and I had no idea I could boost my ‘full potential,’ what the next level was, and how I could transform.

It’s Not Your Personality

People spend so many years in one level of potential that they start believing it’s their personality

Everybody else believes so, too because they associate behaviors with personality. 

They are wrong.

When we expand our potential, our personality changes.

Scientists have identified seven levels of potential. When you read through them:

  1. Assign a “personality avatar” to each level of potential

  2. Think about a person that fits the description of each potential - assign a name to each level. Make it personal.

  3. Identify what level you're operating under pressure. Be true to yourself.

The seven levels of potential


  • Manipulative

  • Blames others

  • Opportunist

  • Disobeys power

  • Rejects feedback

  • Ignores the rules

  • Believes in luck

  • Selfish

  • Bully

  • ‘Eye for eye’ norm

  • Short term horizon

  • Wins at all cost

Group Centric

  • Avoids conflict

  • Pleases others

  • Conservative

  • Passive

  • Pick their battles

  • Follows norms

  • Obeys to rules blindly

  • Suppress their needs

  • Fits into culture

  • Loyal to the group

  • Care about appearance and status

  • Apply group standards

  • Follows authority

  • Values acceptance, belonging and being liked

Domain Centric

  • The 'know it all' expert

  • Follows best practice

  • Problem solver

  • Perfectionist

  • Critical of others (especially if disagree)

  • Tends to micro-manage

  • Likes problem-solving

  • Data-driven (“Let me share my screen. I have numbers.”)

  • Needs to be right

  • Prioritizes efficiency

  • Accepts feedback only from recognized experts

  • Opinionated

  • Wants to stand out and be recognized as indispensable

  • Values knowledge

Vision Centric

  • Results-oriented

  • Collaborative

  • Values effectiveness over efficiency

  • Self-aware of limiting behaviors

  • Interested in building strong relationships

  • Concerns about own integrity – wants to walk the talk

  • Long-term goals and outcomes

  • Prioritizes well

  • Facilitates strong teamwork

  • Courageously Authentic

  • Inspired by the future

  • Drives vision

  • Strong sense of justice and ethics

  • Evolving emotional intelligence 

  • Open to feedback

By now, we have covered almost everybody you know in your professional and personal life. Vision Centric potential is what every leader aspires to become and everybody else wants to hire, work with or manage. 99% of leadership books help people reach Vision Centric potential.

Vision Centric was good enough until recent years when complexity and unpredictability amounted to levels we have never experienced.

And that’s just the beginning. In the coming years, AI will change not only the way we do business but also the way we lead. In the disruptive chaos that will follow the adaptation of AI technology, Vision Centric, the most admired and highly rewarded potential, won’t be enough.

The leaders of the future are the ones who will transform themselves beyond Vision Centric to the following levels:

Expansive Transformer

  • High awareness of context

  • Growing awareness of their assumptions and beliefs

  • Always inquiring

  • Seeking feedback

  • Collaborate with deep connection and care

  • Highly tolerant of differences

  • Can challenge the group norms

  • Thinks out of the norms (and what is seen as ‘normal’)

  • Balances independence and interdependence

  • Attracted by differences

  • A force for change

  • Connects past and future

  • Maverick

  • Highly creative at many levels

Integral Transformer

  • Systemic thinker

  • Highly effective in managing paradoxes and polarities

  • Self-actualized and fulfilled

  • Aware of their shadows

  • Able to sense elephants in the room and address them

  • Expansive sense of identity and self-worth

  • Multi-dimensional time horizons

  • Highly reflective in real-time

  • Welcomes unpredictability and uncertainty

  • Manages well volatile situations

  • Comfortable with ambiguity

  • Strong sense of individuality

  • Adapts quickly to the complexity and evolving situations

  • Connects the dots of the wider ecosystems 

  • Balance processes and outcomes

  • High consciousness

Unitive Transformer

  • Metaphorical

  • Sees dark, light, and many shades of grey

  • Good with order and mess

  • See oneness in each of us and all of us

  • Shifts paradigms

  • Embraces common humanity

  • Internalize observations

  • Being in the action and observing the action from the outside

  • See social shifts and creates movements to manifest them

Identify Your Potential

Studies show that 85% of the leaders operate from the earlier four potentials and only 15% from the later three augmented potentials (in which only 0.1% are Unitive Transformers).

At what level did you evaluate yourself? Be true to yourself. If you want to know the truth, share this post with people you have deep rapport and ask them what they think your potential is (including your partner).

I had a very humbling experience a few years ago when I thought of myself as an Integral Transformer. I took the potential assessment and found I was at the Vision Centric with some signs of an Expansive Transformer. 

Cognitively, I fully understood the Integral Transformer. Subconsciously, I was not yet there. It took two more years and a potential development coach to catapult my growth to Integral Transformer.

Before we go

  • Every potential includes the previous levels of potential 

  • We leverage all our early levels of potential 

  • We can't leverage the level of potential we haven't reached

  • We sometimes intentionally operate from an earlier potential (For example, Group Centric when we go to a party with people we don't know or Domain Centric when we give a speech)

  • We sometimes fall back unintentionally to earlier potentials (and feel bad about it)

In future posts, we will talk more about each level of potential and how to transform from one level to the next. 

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