Are you a doer or a leader?

March 21, 2011

We’re a culture that values expertise. We want answers and fast. The more answers you know, the more you move ahead–first at school, then in your career. You become a go-to person and others seek out your expertise.

It feels good to have the answers and assist others. So good, in fact, that it’s addictive. Eventually, though, the emotional rewards aren’t enough. As you rise up the career ladder and take on more leadership responsibilities, it’s hard to keep up with your areas of expertise. And, worse, you may be stunting the growth of others who are overly reliant upon your answers. You become a mediocre, or even bad, leader. Why? Because you’ve been so focused on providing answers that you haven’t developed question-asking skills–allowing others a chance to learn and become accomplished doers.

Don’t let your expertise get in the way of your leadership. Just because you know the answer–or suspect you do–doesn’t mean you should always supply it.

If it did not happen in school it likely began to happen or continue to happen to you in your career. Before long you became the go to person on particular subjects. Even as you left the last position behind people continued seeking you out for this expertise. You soon see that not only are you being rewarded emotionally for knowing so much you are also crippling yourself by running out of time in a day to accomplish all you have to do. Additionally, you are likely stunting someone else’s growth from figuring out how they are going to be successful in your old job.

Check-in with yourself today to see if being an expert is holding you back from moving forward in your career.

see entry in Just Ask Leadership (McGraw Hill 2009) Are you a doer or a leader?

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