It’s ‘goodbye’ to expertise 

By  Debbie Nicol

It’s ‘goodbye’ to expertise

#Change Context

The changing world requires true #leaders to face higher stakes, yield faster action, facilitate greater scope, design new shared ways and deploy within the realm of increased diversity. With such complex operational demands, it is simply not possible for one person to know or be everything and to facilitate success in such an environment. Recognizing this, the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude and ‘everything comes through me’ #team and #leadership model (V1.0 team leadership model) must be positioned as incapable of ‘nimble and responsive service’.

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What’s evident in this model of a #team is:

  • Individuals being led from the front or top, indicating degrees of separation through expertise
  • One to one communication between leader and follower, and no communication between other group members

This model depends on a perceived expertise others trust. It also implies if the manager is absent, communication and involvement of any kind could cease.

Alternatives do exist. Often referred to as ‘systems-based teams’ (V2.0 model), this model is a direct responses to ever-flexing environments.

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It’s clear this model thrives upon greater connectivity, and demonstrates:

  • commitment to co-ownership effectively making expertise redundant
  • opportunity for cross-pollination of ideas
  • density in the middle, where focus and clarity of intention is concentrated
  • room to flex as the entity is mobile and agile
  • strong levels of collaboration and dependency; every voice is welcomed

The words ‘system’, ‘relationship’ and ‘team’ can be used interchangeably for descriptions of the 2nd model, adding sharp contrast to ‘expertise’. The idea of mechanical systems is a well-understood and logical concept. Imagine, inanimate cogs and wheels interconnecting (being in relationship with each other) producing something greater than themselves, yet when we speak of a human system, managers who still believe in ‘expertise’ struggle to find logic. Systems-based team functions also do produce something greater than expertise:

  • commitment to and pride in a new collective entity; co-owned leadership
  • an evolving, more-compelling ‘big picture’
  • increasing ownership of the opportunity conflict brings
  • emerging creativity as continuous improvement can no longer be thwarted
  • sharing realignment and correction in effect making the role of an ‘expert’ redundant
  • dignity and respect replace competition and coerciveness
  • contagious engagement, excitement and focus

Case Study

I recently facilitated the process of a team’s evolution towards becoming a system, growing their common language and nurturing a newly-evolving entity. When becoming aware of a ‘soon-to-be-imposed decision’ from upper management, the team immediately sought its inner wisdom, concluding that ‘damage’ would be incurred should this proceed. They quickly became both a solution, collectively presenting the case for a creative, win-win alternative and an agent for future change regarding decisions. Previously, as a v1.0 team, they would have silently endured the intrusion allowing their invisible culture secretly hijack the process, a win-lose indeed.

Wrap up

Have you ever seen an orchestra create musical magic without a conductor? It is entirely possible, as this resource demonstrates (do be sure to click on the videos tab too). Explore and adopt the magic of systems-based approaches to teams and leadership, observe the invisible and impossible becoming both visible and possible while bidding a hearty farewell to the failing concept of expertise!

Debbie Nicol

Debbie is tenacious, resilient, can break complexity and ambiguity into concrete simplicity, eats the stage, loves to challenge, Author.
Debbie is a Change Practitioner, Facilitator, Conceptualizer, Design Capability, Asks the right questions, Builds Customized Solutions, Life's Mirror

Debbie Nicol

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