The dying art of a generalist..
We live a world today where specialization is becoming more and more pervasive. We expect our kids to choose one sport, before they get to middle school, to concentrate on through high school. We expect high schoolers to decide what they want to do the rest of their lives. We expect adults to only have experience in the their field in order to move up to the next level or to a different company.
Then we expect leaders to see the big picture. How can they really do that if they have only had experience in one area? Pervasive specialization hurts team work. It hurts career growth. It hurts the long-term success of your business.
Being a generalist is not a bad thing!!!
Generalists have worked through multiple areas, played multiple sports and potentially had multiple career journeys. A generalist will bring a perspective to leadership from multiple experiences, having seen things from different viewpoints over time. One can successfully argue that generalists will have a better chance of success in the higher levels of leadership.
How can you be a generalist and support your career goals?
Manage your career journey….
Don’t specialize too early – take the time to try multiple things and continue to do so even after you begin to narrow things down to what you really enjoy doing. Think of a spiral staircase vs. a ladder. The earlier in your career that you can work in different areas, do it!!
Find a mentor (better yet…get more than one!) – A mentor is a critical part of your career journey. They are someone you can learn from and get support as you continue on your journey.
Network at work – go to lunch with someone from a different department. Ask questions about their job/career/department and build a great relationship. It is a great opportunity to learn about other areas of the business
Become a life-long learner – You are in charge of your future. Continuing to learn and grow throughout your career will pay off in a big way. Read, Ask questions, Be curious.
It is never to late to start, but starting is absolutely critical to success. Start today….
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