Leadership & Expertise – Mutually Exclusive?
Knowing what you are Not good at is a considerable strength, something that is only realised after a lot of learning – and a few embarrassing apologies. But realising (and accepting!) that others are better than you in specific areas, is probably more important.
You have a choice then – do you try to build your skills to compete with these experts, or do you make it your job to identify and empower the right experts, on your behalf…
Good leadership reflects this choice as well. The best leaders that I have worked for, and with, regularly defer to others to be the experts, while they ‘conduct the orchestra’. In fact, the orchestra is a good exemplar– allowing individuals’ scope and trust for their solo, while making sure each contribution lifts the performance of the ensemble, is the essence of a great conductor. Extending the analogy, the conductor makes it easy for the individual players to follow the music, and in the same way, a business leader must take their lead from the vision and objectives set within the strategic plan…
Plan for Leadership
But enough analogies! The key here is that without a plan, its very hard to lead – but without leadership, businesses will under-achieve, regardless of how expert the individual resources may be. For the leader, the challenge is both to think and plan coherently, surrounded by people who appreciate they are cogs in the engine, providing their skills in tandem with others who have complementary skills. Leaders need to respect and challenge them to deliver their part in that plan.
And this is true at all levels of business. My own view is that it is particularly so at the Advisory/ Board level, where external experience and contrarian views are so important to the decision-making of any focussed executive team – and maybe most of all to Shareholder executives, who must balance short-term achievement with longer-term value optimisation… If you can align strategic planning with tactical execution, supported by motivated expert resources all singing from the same sheet (sorry!), you not only share the vision, you can make it rewarding for all, in a very meaningful way.
Ask For Help
Never be shy of asking for help from others, especially experts – that is what they are there for! And never be afraid of ‘I don’t know’ as the right answer. Just make it your constant quest to find people who Do know, and motivate them to support you – you know what you want, but you need others to help you to get it.