Book Notes: You Can’t Know It All

You Can’t Know It All: Leading in the Age of Deep Expertise by Wanda T. Wallace
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Expert based leader – E-leader

Expert leader have grown through getting deeper and deeper knowledge on a particular topic (e.g. tax law). Being a leader tends to be more of the same deep expertise.

Spanning leader – S-leader

E-leaders are capped by their knowledge – it is a challenge to reach outside of their area of expertise. Spanning leadership is very different and is a transition which must be gone through so that leaders are able to take on broader areas – some of which they may have little knowledge.

E-leader transition to to S-leader

How You Add Value
adding value tangiblybecomesrecognising the intangible value you add
controlling quality and riskbecomescontrolling strategic focus and priorities
contributing specific knowledgebecomescontributing to the commercial impact
doing it yourselfbecomescreating leverage
How You Get (the Right) Work Done
controlling from the centerbecomesenabling the team
relying on professional skills and contactsbecomesrelying on a broad network
drilling deeplybecomesembracing ambiguity
deep focus and concentrationbecomesability to shift focus often
getting the right decisionbecomesmoving forward with a good call
How You Interact
trusting yourself to do a good jobbecomestrusting a broad base of people
relying on rational argumentsbecomesrelying on relationships and diplomacy to resolve issues and influence outcomes
converations are about factsbecomesconversations include emotions
quirky personality is acceptedbecomesexecutive presence matters
people follow because of your specific knowledgebecomespeople follow because of inspiration

Some of the key skills in the transformation

  • Delegation – proper delegation not directing/instructing people how to do the task
  • An enabling mind-set –
Instructing, Expert Mind-setEnabling, Spanning Mind-set
I know what to do
I provide answers or structure
If people do what I say, we will have a good outcome
I add value by knowing what to do
I am respected because I know what to do
There are multiple approaches that lead to the same outcome
I don’t know exactly what to do, but I know what the organisation needs
I encourage people to think and to stretch themselves
I have time to guide; this is on my primary agenda
I add value by enabling others
I am respected because I can involve and inspire others
  • Ask different questions –
The Instructing, Expert Mind-set asks:The Enabling, Spanning Mind-set asks:
Why did this happen?
What wasn’t understood?
What dd we miss?
Conclude with direction – “This i what needs to be done next time”
What possibilities does this create?
How else could you frame the situation?
How will you ensure that you stay on track?
What have we learned from this?
Who else needs to be consulted?
Who else has an opinion that should be considered?
Conclude with “What do you want to do differently next time?”
  • Keeping in touch with work – empowering but getting updates
  • Coping with mistakes – an inevitable part of the job
  • Build team members’ reliance on each other – building networks and less centralisation so things are not just hub and spoke
  • Co-develop strategy – not just a top down but including input and feedback
  • Being a connector exchanging information
  • Shifting focus based on value vs effort
  • Realising that there is no perfect solution so embracing that and moving forward

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