Leading people when they know more than you do!

Does this sound familiar? People perfect their areas of expertise, perform well as individuals and get rewarded with promotions. And for some, they may reach a point, where their expertise is not what they are paid for anymore – instead they are there to lead others, sometimes in areas that are outside their area of expertise. So now, these leaders might have direct reports who ask them questions that they cannot answer – or worse still – may not even understand!

Understanding, and then accepting what it takes to be an excellent leader of others – can be challenging for many. The things that made us who we are, that form a key part of our identity, may not be what is critical to success in our new leadership role. In fact, the things that made us successful before, might be the things we need to ‘let go of’ to be successful in the next passage of leadership. New skills need to be developed and some of the old ones need to be left behind.

Wanda T Wallace and David Creelman  recently published an article that provided some insight into this challenge, and offered some suggestions to help leaders move from being a ‘specialist’ to a ‘generalist’.

Click here to access HBR article.

Here is the ‘info-visual’ we made for ourselves to take note of the key messages :

Leading people when they know more than you do

Follow up to this post :

A great blog that shares ‘6 big advantages of young managers’.

9 things confident leaders do when they don’t know the answer