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Watch out for misguided brilliance

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in Leaders & Managers

As cornerstones of modern science go, Robert Boyle ranks up there with Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

Boyle, a 17th century nobleman, investigated luminescence, studied the earth’s core, analyzed the nature of human blood and helped design the modern experimental method.

But Boyle also blew much of his time on alchemy, experimenting with how to turn base metals into gold.

The lesson: Even your brightest stars might harbor deep misconceptions about the very nature of your business. Don’t take for granted that they will always expend their brilliance on worthwhile projects. But don’t stifle them, either. State your concerns, set parameters and let them carry on.

— Adapted from Boyle: Between God and Science, Michael Hunter, Yale University Press.

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