Surround yourself with experts

A common trait among those who are successful is that they know what they know but more importantly, they know what they don’t.

There was a manager within a business that I used to work for who would explain “I have an area of responsibility this big” and with that he would stretch his arms out as far as they would go. Then he would say “and I’m really bloody good at about this much of it” and with that he would bring his hands together to approximately 10 centimetres apart. At this point some in the room would wonder how someone at such a high level of business would survive with such limited knowledge. To this he would say “and that’s why I surround myself with experts” by which he meant that he would do what he was good at and then refer to those ‘in the know’ on the things that he was not.

It was with his words that I realised that it is vital for leaders, managers and decision makers to surround themselves with subject matter experts in the areas they may not be as strong in. They need to do this so that in times of planning or in times of crisis they have the right person to turn to and say, “what do you think we should do next?”. This does not mean that they are weak or incapable but that they understand their own strengths and choose to play to them instead.

Now the larger your organisation is, the easier it is for you to find an internal resource to fill the trusted adviser role but what about small business? I am told through my interactions since becoming a Consultant that owning a small business, while rewarding, can be particularly lonely and that at times when serious decisions are to be made there are not many to turn to. And I suppose you are now expecting the obligatory plug where is say “call Focus HR and we’ll be there with you” but no, that is not my bent today.

I instead encourage you to get out into the business community and find those like you and form those relationships. Now this may be in the form of a business club, industry body or maybe even your competitor (not always the best but still very useful). What you will find by talking and engaging with these people is that you are not the only one going through these tough decisions and furthermore, within the right groups, you may be able to find that subject matter expert who can help you through the next big decision. The added bonus, aside from getting access to a sharp business mind, is that once they get to know you, you may even begin to do business with or have business referred to you from these relationships. It is a win win.

So, the next time you are asked to come along to a business breakfast, hear an industry spokespersons speech or attend yet another seminar, don’t just look at your feet and think “how boring” or “I’m too nervous”. Instead grab the attendees list and see how many people are there that you can introduce yourself to and begin to syphon knowledge from. You will be surprised at who you meet and even more surprised at the knowledge you may pick up.