I learned how to drive, after I got my driver’s license. My parents hired a “consultant” to teach me the best practices. I even remember the time I drove on the wrong side of the road because I was too focused on the clutch and the stick shift.
It took me a lot of practice to learn to drive properly. No matter how much I read the manual or listened to the wisdom of others, I didn’t learn to drive until I was behind the wheel doing it.
This story mimics my leadership journey; and possibly, the journey of many others.
It seems to be common practice to assume that subject matters experts can be great leaders. Too many of us get promoted to a leadership role with zero idea as to what it entails.
Worst of all, I believed I deserve it and I believed I could be better at it than my manager and other managers I knew. Can you relate?
I couldn’t be more wrong.
Nothing I could have read or heard would have prepared me for the first time…
- I had to delegate a project I knew I could do better than my staff member.
- I had to decide to wait until the next day to finish a project so I could spend time with family at the expense of missing a very important deadline.
- A team member or peer told me I wasn’t a good leader.
- I had to go against a decide from my manager to protect my staff.
- A team member made a big mistake and I had to defend her.
- I asked a team member to do something and then proceeded to totally revamp their work because I didn’t like it.
And the list can go on.
I DON’T have to know it; I just need to KNOW WHERE to get it.
Should I really think that Henry Ford knew everything about car manufacturing? No! He paid a lot of people to know.
Today, I look to erase the notion that you need to become a subject matter expert before you start doing anything.
Knowledge is not power; what make us powerful is the ability to apply specialized knowledge for a specific purpose.
Ultimately, what we know today is a result of a long process that started with us knowing little about anything.
Give yourself some grace and let your inner child come out and play again.