I believe in expertise. I’ve preached about personal growth on this blog many, many times. I received my Ph.D. because I’m a lifelong student. But there are many cases where expertise actually hurts an organization. Recently I was working with an organization that was in bondage to research. They are constantly asking for more and more research. They’d spent enormous money hiring experts on different areas of the business.
But it didn’t take me long to realize they didn’t need more information – they were just afraid to make a decision. In other cases, many leaders simply over-think problems. Sometimes the best answer is the simple answer, but when you’re leading a large enterprise, you begin to think that everything has to be long, involved, and plodding. The more people are involved, the more you lose confidence in yourself and your decisions.
Expertise helps you avoid past mistakes, quickly analyze situations, and see what’s coming. But when you rely too much on experts, you start to lose common sense and more than anything – you often fail to act. Experts are wonderful, but when a disaster happens, people look to leaders, not experts. After all, university campuses are filled with experts of all kinds, who are brilliant in their fields, but most are incredibly poor leaders.