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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Davies

Preserve your Experts

Recently I've been doing a lot of work with people in different organisations who are often overlooked when it comes to coaching and development activities. In my experience, and that of a lot of people in the field I work in, executive coaching and investments in 'soft' or enterprise skills such as communication, influence, negotiation and other similar areas, are typically made in people leaders, or those seen as potential people leaders of the future.


That makes sense on the face of it - because investing in leadership capability has a sort of compounding effect. You can make the leader more effective, thus improving the work experience, productivity and impact of the members in their team. And if that leader happens to be higher up the organisational chart, then you can continue to rep the cascading effects of the investment further downstream, as their leadership behaviours and approach set the example for their team and so on.

The challenge, however, is that it is often not these people who have the knowledge, experience and capability that the organisation needs to harness and amplify, if it is to be successful in its marketplace. Sometimes, because they've been invested in and are therefore more capable at communicating, articulating, persuading, negotiating and influencing, it can be the non-technical people (sales, marketing, etc) who are best able to determine the direction of the business, rather than those who have the best and most creative ideas. How many times have you seen someone who is really close to the product generating ideas but being steamrolled by someone without the same technical expertise but who is a more able debater? Its not uncommon at all, and it can not only lead to great opportunities being missed, but it can result in the loss of talent, as these skilled experts decide to take their capabilities somewhere that they'll be appreciated and where their ideas can be more fully realised.


So what can be done? Well the first thing that needs to be done is identifying where the technical talent or the experts are, in your business. If you're building apps, who are the most creative, skilled and innovative software engineers on your business? If you're designing and making physical products, who are the deep experts on design and what is possible? We're not looking, right now, at their potential for leadership, simply their ability to come up with and execute on great ideas. These are the people who hold the keys to the future success of your business; the people who an make things which will move you forward and push you ahead of your competition.


Then comes investing in them. If you want to extract the maximum value from their experience, ability and skills, you need to make sure that they're capable of articulating those ideas, selling them to the business and getting people on board to deliver them. Businesses are full of bottlenecks and gatekeepers and it's very possible that these people will stop the flow of great ideas or put the breaks on progress, if your experts aren't trained, coached and supported to deal with them. Invest time and money in training and coaching to build the confidence and capability, not in the technical skills which are already elite, but in the non-technical skills which will allow your experts to surface their ideas, build advocacy and help your organisation to realise its potential through innovation, improved efficiency and all manner of other opportunities!


If this is something you've identified as a need or you'd like to know more about it, please get in touch, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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