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How to manage work when you are not the expert

When facilitating a leadership program this week, I discussed various aspects of delegation and development with the participants.

One of the people in this group asked a great question.

He explained that he can manage certain tasks easily since he is an expert. However, he said he oversees other tasks but has limited experience or expertise in these areas.

Can you relate?

So, he asked how he should best manage the tasks where he lacks expertise.

This is a very common leadership query.

Now, here is the thing about leadership… there is rarely one right answer to a question. It usually depends on the situation, the leaders’ role and their organization.

For example, conflict is handled differently in a unionized environment than in an organization without a union.

So, instead of suggesting that this leader implement a process that won’t work, I invited the participants to a quick brainstorming session.

I thought you might be interested in the results of our brainstorm, so I’ll share the details with you below.

The focus statement for the brainstorm was:

How can I manage work when I am not the expert?

Their ideas included the following:

  • I can learn to do the task so I can support my team
  • I can engage other experts in the business
  • I can put a backup system in place so if this person is not available to do the task, we have an alternative
  • I can ask the expert to document their process so others can fill in if needed
  • I can bribe someone else on my team with chocolate so they become the backup

Yes, chocolate is a great way to solve many business issues!

But in all seriousness, look at the list of ideas written above.

Considering your personal situation, which idea or ideas work best for you?
Share that idea with your team and make a plan.

You don’t need to be an expert in everything!
But you should have a plan to manage these areas of accountability effectively!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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