Are you an expert experienced leader?



Are you an expert experienced leader?

As I prepared to give a recent talk, I noticed the hosts were describing me as a leadership expert.  Instant fear…. this could be a problem! In a world filled with leadership experts, thought leaders and gurus, what could I possibly have to say that might be of interest, insight or value?

After all, my only qualification in this area is that I am a leader, and have led teams around the world. And, oh yes… I have been led too. That would have to do.

And it turns out that was more than enough.

You see, as a wise mentor once told me, an ‘expert’ is merely the person that knows the most in the room.  More recently, I was reminded that the two-step route to thought leadership status is even easier (Step 1: ‘I’m a thought leader!’; Step 2: ‘Congratulations, you are a thought leader!’).

So I just focused on my experience. And stories. And the fact that despite the best efforts of the leadership development ‘industry’ to make things unnecessarily complex, leadership really only comes down to a few key attributes. The most important being the ability to Direct and Inspire.

And that was exactly the ‘expert’ conversation the group wanted.

Sure, there are hundreds of books, engaging TED Talks, and weighty academic reports that will tell you more – and many are a joy to read.  But as a client reminded me today, ‘anyone can read a few books and become a supposed expert; we’d rather work with real leaders’.

So we have a new term now in the Inspire Leaders team – subject matter experience.  A harder badge to attain, but so much more useful.


James McCulloch

Director of Leadership

Leave a Reply