Leadership Expertise – Quick Tips for Building it

Leadership expertise tipsTo follow from our recent article on Leadership Styles and Being an Expert I thought I might share with you some Quick Tips for building your leadership expertise.

There really are only a few ways to build expertise. If you do need to rapidly build your leadership expertise here is how to do it:

  • Ask lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask others who know. Most people are more than willing to share their information if you ask for their help and advice.
  • Ask someone who already knows. Find a mentor or attend a course. Sign up for one of my seminars or courses, or contact us for details of individual or group coaching programs.
  • Make lots of mistakes. This is called gaining experience. It may be a painful, high-risk way to learn, but it is very effective if you reflect on the lessons you gain from your experience – and a great way to develop your leadership expertise.
  • Read lots of books. This is a much less painful way to learn from other people’s mistakes than making them yourself! Have a look at just some of the books in the Bookroom.

If you are doing lots of these four things regularly, your personal leadership expertise will develop much more quickly than otherwise.

Leadership styles – Being an expert in everything

Leadership stylesOne of the first things we notice about good leaders is how many different yet effective types of leadership styles there are. While one of these leadership styles will be authentically right for you, and it might be very different to the leadership styles adopted by others in your organisation.

But regardless of your personal leadership style, there is one trap we find new leaders fall into, far too frequently.

No one person is an expert in everything and the fact that you are leading a team certainly doesn’t mean you know everything that everyone on your team does.

In fact, the job of a leader has more to do with knowing what needs to be known than knowing everything.

Once we know what needs to be known it becomes possible to acquire either that knowledge, or the people who have the knowledge. The most effective leadership styles reinforce this. Leadership styles that demand all-encompassing leadership expertise demotivate other team members.

Good leaders need to be confident enough in their own leadership styles and positions to be able to ask the people who do know, and to still take charge (without all the knowledge) when the situation requires it.

Yet so often when I am mentoring managers and executives I come across people who feel under great pressure to be an expert in everything, just because they are in charge. And their leadership styles reflect this. They are concerned that their lack of detailed knowledge of some of the things their team members are doing will make it too hard for them to earn the respect of their people or even undermine their authority.

But it isn’t necessarily so. I’ve known outstanding leaders who knew little about the technical detail of what their team members individually did who still displayed really effective leadership styles.

So much of your success in this sort of situation depends on your personal leadership styles.  In particular on the way you pay respect to the team members who do have the knowledge, without relinquishing your own role as team leader. Effective leadership styles achieve this by placing focus on the contributions of every of team member, including the team leader, rather than on individual deficiencies – even their own.

Expertise and Leadership Styles

However, there are plenty of things a leader does need to be expert in.

Even though good leaders may not know how to do everything each individual team member does, they will always know exactly what each team member contributes. They will know what needs to be done. They will know how to build a diverse group into a well functioning team, how to change attitudes and manage organizational change. They will know how and when to listen, and when to act.

All in all, when you are in charge of a team you need to be expert, not in the work your people do, but in all the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours of being a leader.

Whatever leadership styles different effective leaders display, they all have this in common.

Leave a comment below to share what you think are the most effective leadership styles.