Expertise as power
It may be tempting to learn a skill and keep that skill to ourselves.
To become the best at doing something, because we perceive experts are in short supply.
The theory is, if we are the only ones that can do something, we can charge more for what we do, we’ll be in high demand, and we’ll never be out of work.
There are a few problems with the theory.
When you’re the highest paid, you are automatically evaluated when times get lean. Do we really need that level of expertise? Can we get by with someone a little less skilled for less money?
Also, the value of an expert that is the “only one” is limited to one.
Sharing power creates exponential value
But what if we can be experts that are multipliers? Experts that create more value and generate more savings, opportunities, or revenue than the amount of our paycheck?
Now we have a winning formula.
Ever since I started this writing journey, Star Wars has been a part of it.
With the new movie, there are new stories, characters and learnings to absorb and share. Good and bad examples of how to lead ourselves and others.
If you have not seen the movie, and plan to, please stop here. It’s been a month and the initial frenzy has passed. Go, enjoy, and I’ll see you afterwards.
If you’re still with me…what a ride! For me, the movie was reminiscent of the originals I grew up with, yet still offered a fresh story of heroes and villains.
Watching the movie (again and again), I was struck by how much the paths of both character types were influenced by mentors. By the resulting impact mentors can have on our choices and development.
Anyone that has heard me speak (or soapbox) about mentoring knows that I am not a fan of the label. I have spoken to too many people who say “I have never had a mentor” simply because they do not call anyone by that title. But I have no doubt they have benefitted from mentoring.
I refuse to get hung up on a word. I focus on finding and developing relationships with people I trust, that I can call on in good times and bad, who can count on me for the same. Such individuals may very well mentor me, and often do, but they are so much more than that.
And that is why I would rather develop trusted relationships – friendships – than focus on being or obtaining a mentor.
This week, I had the privilege of speaking to a large group of women (and a few men) about mentoring at the Women In insurance Leadership Forum in Chicago.
On the way to WIIL, I was online and received a request for help from a protege of mine. Given that I was on my way to talk about mentoring, I felt the timing was perfect and asked what was going on.
By the time our conversation was done and he was on his way with a fresh perspective, I realized how frequently I’m asked to validate someone’s perception of another individual’s action or remark. I am not sure about other mentors, but for me, this is a pretty common occurrence.
I thought I’d share my approach when I’m presented with these sorts of dilemmas. For those of you who are mentors, maybe these will come in handy the next time someone comes to you with a similar challenge. For anyone who finds themselves in a situation they are getting bent about and wonder if they have the right of it, read on. Maybe this will help.
It’s been 9 months since I started meeting regularly with a small group of aspiring women leaders. Every month, we get together and talk about a myriad of topics. This week, I was running a few minutes late to our lunch gathering and witnessed something magical.
They didn’t wait for me.
Instead, they were connecting on their own, asking each other questions about work and life, opportunities and challenges. It was beautiful to behold.
In the last few months, I have been spending a lot of time thinking and talking with others about mentoring.
When I bring up the topic, and ask people about their mentoring experiences, most are quick to point out that they have never been in a formal mentoring relationship.
In one case, I asked a group of women I meet with regularly if they have mentors. Each of them shook their head no. I asked them “what do you think I am?”
Their surprise was the beginning of what I have started to call the “Prince Charming” theory of mentoring.