Leading from expertise means more than just sharing knowledge or solving problems – it means driving transformations.

It’s amazing how much fulfilment there is for experts who focus on transformation. Helping others transform connects your core aspirations, bigger goals, and daily activities with real people. Ironically, growing your expertise blocks you from achieving just that.

Most of my clients care so much about growing their expertise that they see new accreditations, badges, or certificates as fuel for a meaningful career. They take bonding with peers and advancing their status among their specialist community as synonyms for development.

Many experts discard the hard leadership work needed to help transform teams and businesses. They say you can’t grow as an expert if you don’t put all your efforts into learning more, solving problems, and contributing to your community of experts: showing up in meetings with your expert colleagues, being involved in associations, and writing posts to advance the cause of your field. They typically confuse sharing expertise and seeking transformation.

Sharing your expertise happens when others ask you to solve a problem for them.

Seeking transformation means:

  • Showing a clear direction.
  • Motivating others to initiate change.
  • Persisting in their new behaviours until the transformation is completed.

Here is an example from outside work life.

For decades, physiotherapists analysed your problem and then applied their skills and knowledge to solve it. Their protocols included explaining the problem and its solution, performing manual therapy, and telling you one exercise you could do at home. They repeated that process until they solved your problem.

More recently, some physiotherapists started to work in collective, open spaces, still applying their knowledge and skills but going one extra mile: after applying manual therapy, they engage you with tools and exercises. They supervise your practice while giving care to the next patient. You get new, specific exercises at every appointment. At the next iteration, they reflect on your progress and experience. Before you realise it, you engage in a behaviour change through a rich curriculum. The variety of exercises renews your interest every week. The progress review helps maintain sustainable, healthy habits that you perform every day. They don’t just solve your problems; they transform your habits and body.

Here is the opportunity for you:

Once you have grown your expertise by learning and solving problems, learning more and solving more problems is no longer fulfilling. Seeking a higher status in your group of experts gives you the illusion of a meaningful work life. However, only when you focus on transformation can you achieve more meaningful work. That is the way to grow your expertise to the next level.

The foundations of your leadership are rooted in knowing what to stand for in your role, reconnecting to the very reasons for which you developed your expertise, and exploring the perspective of your colleagues. Leading from your expertise is fulfilling, for you achieve more extensive transformations, regardless of whether you manage people or have power.

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