The Leadership Challenge: Expertise – 5 Tips!

The Point: What are you good at? If you’re like most of the leaders I work with, you’re probably “good” at a lot of things… For example Sales/Marketing Leadership, Customer Experience, Project Management, and Process Improvement might be several areas that might make your leadership performance highlight reel. But what are you great at? In this post, we take a look at the leadership challenge expertise as well as 5 tips for your leadership development… Enjoy!

The Leadership Challenge- Expertise – 5 Tips!

The Rich Get Richer

The other day I found myself in a leadership development executive coaching conversation. Not atypical from most other business days, but this one was somewhat precarious for several reasons. For starters, the setting between coach and coachee was at the onset of our business relationship. As such, an initial assessment (think of it as a “line in the sand” leadership development moment) was due.

As the assessment began, I could tell that the leader was extremely comfortable and confident. After all, why wouldn’t he be? He recently had successfully exited from a public sale of his company, and as a result had untold wealth accumulated/sitting in a bank account. On top of that success he built an app for a popular social media platform that was driving considerable wealth towards him. “Poor guy” I thought, “I hope he can catch a break someday!”

From Good to Great as a Leader

So as we began our leadership development executive coaching assessment, I asked a question that stopped the conversation in its tracks. What was the question? Here it is:

“What are you the best in the World at?”

The leader thought about his answer for what could be considered an uncomfortable length of time which felt like 10-minutes (but in reality was more like 2-minutes).

His answer was his own, and all I’ll share with you was that it was EXTREMELY powerful. In a few sentences he was able to capture the essence of his success as a business man, family man, and leader in both capacities. It was a difference between being simply “good” and being “great” in all capacities. At the heart of all of this was his expertise. So here are 5 tips you can leverage to overcome the leadership challenge expertise moments you face as a leader:

Expertise Tip #5 – Focus

What are you the best at and why? If you’re focus is all over the board, you’ll drive little success in potentially a lot of places. However, maximum impact as a leader can be achieved if you focus in specific areas.

Expertise Tip #4 – Change

If you want to focus (Tip #5 above) on a specific are, be it a skill set or business segment, you’ll have to identify realistically where you are on the topic and where you need to be in order to achieve expert level. You’ll then need to change towards that expert level designation (I know, easier said than done!)

Expertise Tip #3 – Enlist Support

The saying “It’s lonely at the top” is appropriate for most leaders. Surrounded by pc-correct stakeholders not looking to “rock the boat” or answer “Yes” to requests is unfortunately typical in most organizations. While this ego-stroking capacity isn’t without its merits, it also doesn’t propel you to think/act at your best level. As such, you should look to enlist support (perhaps from an executive coach?)

Expertise Tip #2 – Take Action

Marshall Goldsmith in his recent book “Triggers” says that most leaders are great planners (think strategy session or action plans) but horrible doers! In other words, coming up with the plan isn’t the hard part… The hard part is in taking action. Again, an executive coach should be able to help keep you on-time/on-target.

Expertise Tip #1 – Don’t Stop Learning

You might have noticed that the world changes pretty fast. As such, you’ll want to enact a 12-18 month plan where you calendar specific dates/times to continue your expertise learning journey on a weekly basis. Don’t get left behind as a leader!


In this post we’ve explored the leadership challenge expertise and provided 5 tips for you as a leader. If the road to expert level is paved with over 10,000 steps (or hours), we’d better get started!


Sam Palazzolo

About Sam Palazzolo, Managing Director

Sam Palazzolo is Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Mergers & Acquisition, Sales / Business Development & Turnaround Management.