Are you an expert?

Calling myself an expert — about anything — feels icky to me. I think this oldie but goodie from Jeff Atwood helps identify why quite well:

Being an expert isn’t telling other people what you know. It’s understanding what questions to ask, and flexibly applying your knowledge to the specific situation at hand. Being an expert means providing sensible, highly contextual direction.

Really good listening is so undervalued. One of my challenges with this project is that I often feel like I need to read something and share the important parts; when really there is a digestive step and often a series of questions/follow-ups I must answer that is very important between those two endpoints.

When promoting myself to a client, I do cite that I have expertise in my field. But as Jeff highlights, it’s not just being good at something, it’s asking the right questions and being methodical.

Now, for where I do a whole other link inside a link by a different name.

This was one of three great posts I read from him today. The others are on identifying and dealing with bad apples in a team and how bad apples can be group poison. Both are super valuable reads for people working in teams. The scariest part, that highlights the consequences of bad apples:

What they found, in short, is that the worst team member is the best predictor of how any team performs. It doesn’t seem to matter how great the best member is, or what the average member of the group is like. It all comes down to what your worst team member is like. The teams with the worst person performed the poorest.