3 Reasons Why The Best Leaders Arent Technical Experts

3 Reasons Why The Best Leaders Arent Technical Experts

When in a leadership position, it is important to have an understanding of all business functions that operate beneath you. This does not mean that you must be an expert in all areas; it simply means that you should be familiar with the general outputs, and know exactly who to go to for technical advice. When managing a large organisation, the best leaders are not technical experts – they are experts in their people and overall business strategy. If you’re wondering why this is the case, read the following three reasons.

1. The focus shifts to people

Before becoming a leader, it is likely that your role involved being a technical expert. When you are promoted to a leadership position however, your focus must now be on your people. Dave Anderson breaks this down further in saying “When I was promoted to leadership, I was not hired to lead spreadsheets, financial reports or marketing pieces.  I was hired to lead people.  To be an effective leader, I needed to become an expert in my people and how to positively influence them.” Relationship building therefore becomes one of your top priorities, and getting to know your people will allow you to develop into one of the best leaders.

2. They hire people smarter than them

As a leader, your goal is to no longer be a technical expert – you must have employees who are able to provide advice in each area. As Lee Iacocca puts it, “I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way”. The best leaders recognise that their greatest assets are their people, and ensure they hire experts in all key areas. Leaders must have a generalised understanding of how all business areas operate, but technical advice should come from the experts in that field. This helps to ensure that the best people are completing the work, and the leader can focus on the overall task at hand.

3. They grow from technical expert to strategist

When in a leadership role, you must also learn to think bigger than the people you lead. Some of the best leaders endeavour to grow as a strategist, and look to develop their knowledge in overall business strategy. Many of them also enrol in programmes such as the MBA in order to become better rounded in business, and learn to possess a strategic mindset rather than the technical mindset. Strategists have a broader perspective on business, allowing them to see the bigger picture as they develop the strategies. As time goes on, they also are looked to as an expert in strategy within the organisation.

What do you think?

This article demonstrates that while leaders should not be technical experts, they should be experts elsewhere in the organisation. Some of the best leaders are experts in people, strategy, or overall business management. I am interested to hear what you think though – are you for or against the above three reasons? Comment your views below and join the conversation.

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to compile this article: Chaire and Dave Anderson


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