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The ‘Expert’ Boss – Invaluable or a Constraint?

I worked for a guy a few years ago who was definitely a victim of the ‘no one can do this as well as I can’ principle!  In essence he was one of the good guys and yet he held this misguided belief that ‘knowledge is power’. So in order to retain his managerial status he protected his knowledge at any cost, and of course, increased his expertise.

With an ever increasing sense of frustration,  I was waiting for my opportunity to stretch and grow within the company. Eventually he got shifted sideways and my opportunity would have arrived… However by then I had long gone!  Moved to a company with an environment where having a subject matter expert as your boss was unlikely to happen – phew!

Have things progressed since those heady days of the late 80’s/early 90’s? In my experience the answer is mixed!

Tweet: Why is it that some individuals feel uncomfortable and see succession planning as a threat?

Someone in this situation recently shared with me that if he stopped being the ‘expert’, he would have nothing to do all day! Clearly in this environment leadership is not being valued in a way that supports business and personal growth.

Ask yourself where are you on a scale of 1-10 in the expert role?
If your score is 7 or above then maybe you should start to:

  • Revisit your role description – what level of subject matter expertise is really required and why?
  • Check your personal job objectives and goals – do you have to deliver all of the outcomes on your own or is it a collective target?
  • Who in your team should you be developing into being subject matter experts?
  • Who is that is continually chasing you for your current role?

Let’s be honest if you don’t have a successor you are stuck where you are ad infinitum. And what about the good guys on your team? Well, like me, eventually they will all jump ship!