Leading a team can be challenging, especially when you are not an expert in the type of work being done. It's essential to have a clear understanding of your role as a leader and how to build a strong team that can work together to achieve success.
While it might seem a little daunting to have to lead a team that does something you have no ideas on how to do, it is important to remember that this is common practice in all sorts of industries. Captains of cruise ships do not necessarily know how to operate the galley, but are often required to oversee the entire operation, including the cooks. The concepts travel across all sorts of businesses.
Business magnate Elon Musk used the phrase “ I didn’t go to Harvard, but I employ people who did.” This phrase should embody your mindset with this problem. In the context of a manager who isn't an expert in the type of work being done, this phrase suggests that the manager may not have the same level of technical knowledge or experience as their employees, but they recognize and value the expertise of their team members. The manager understands that their role is to lead and support the team, rather than to be the expert in every aspect of the work.
By acknowledging the strengths and expertise of their team members, the manager can leverage those skills and knowledge to achieve the goals of the organization. The manager can also provide guidance, mentorship, and resources to help their team members succeed, even if the manager doesn't have the same level of technical expertise.
This article will go into a few ideas on how to manage despite inexperience with a task.
- Build a Strong Team
As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's crucial to build a strong team. Look for individuals who have the necessary skills and experience, and who can work well together as a team. Hire people who are passionate about the work being done and who have a strong desire to learn and grow. Encourage your team members to share their knowledge and expertise with one another and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
2. Be a Good Communicator
Effective communication is one of the most important skills a leader can have. As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's essential to be clear, concise, and consistent in your communication. Keep your team informed about what is happening and be available to answer their questions. Regular communication helps to build trust and fosters a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Have frequent 1:1s with your direct reports
to determine how to keep moving forward with your tasks.
3. Be a Problem Solver
A good problem solver can be useful in many different situations. When faced with a challenge, work with your team to find creative solutions that are feasible and effective. Don't be afraid to try new things and take calculated risks. Encourage your team to do the same, and create an environment where failure is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a mistake.
4. Learn from Your Team
As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's important to learn from your team members who are. Take the time to understand what they do and how they do it. Ask questions, listen to their ideas, and be open to feedback. By doing this, you can gain a better understanding of the work being done and the challenges your team faces. It also helps to build trust and respect with your team members, as they will appreciate your interest in their work.
5. Set Clear Expectations
It is essential to set clear expectations for your team. This includes goals, deadlines, and performance expectations. By setting clear expectations, you can help your team stay on track and achieve success. Make sure your team understands what is expected of them and what success looks like. Provide regular feedback and celebrate successes along the way.
6. Be Humble
It's okay to admit when you don't know something. As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's important to be humble. Acknowledge your limitations and rely on your team to fill in the gaps. This approach not only shows your team members that you value their expertise, but it also creates a sense of trust and respect.
7. Focus on Leadership Skills
As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's especially essential to focus on your leadership skills. This includes skills like delegation, decision making, and problem-solving. It's also important to develop your emotional intelligence, as this will help you understand and relate to your team members.
8. Be a Visionary
As a leader, it's important to have a clear vision for your team. This includes understanding the goals and objectives of the organization and how your team fits into that vision. Communicate your vision to your team and inspire them to work towards achieving it. By having a clear vision, you can create a sense of purpose and direction for your team. Understanding your leadership style
and work mentality can assist with this.
9. Be a Coach
As a leader who is not an expert in the topics that you are attempting to manage, it is vital for you to stick to the topics that you have more credibility in, or topics that you are also more comfortable in. Attempting to show expertise in a topic you have no experience will make you look worse in your direct reports’ eyes. Be a mentor
to your staff. In addition to that, assist them in setting SMART Goals
, and utilize AIM Insights
with them. Improve their overall office skills, and assist wherever you can.
In conclusion, leading effectively when you are not an expert in the type of work being done requires a combination of humility, strong communication skills, problem-solving ability, and the ability to build and empower a strong team. By focusing on these key elements, you can overcome the challenges of leading in an unfamiliar field and achieve success.