The need to build a base of expertise seems like a no-brainer when it comes to successful job performance. Learn the job, work hard, get results, absorb as much as you can and continue the process.
However, expertise is more than knowledge and innate intelligence:
- It is the application of knowledge to a wide variety of situations that gets the desired results.
- It is insight developed from both successes and failures in reaching goals.
- It is the insatiable need to continually get smart, knowing that this is an elusive target.
To understand this last point, consider four underlying drivers that build a base of expertise:
Initiative is the energy, drive and determination to get results. It’s intrinsic motivation that shapes how a person thinks and acts when experiencing the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
Discernment is a thinking process that exists at two different levels. At one level, discernment is analytical thinking, or the ability to apply logic and reason to solving problems.
At another level, it is the ability to step back and get perspective on a situation or problem. As perspective, discernment is the fuel that drives the ability to make informed judgments.
What discernment is to thinking logically, curiosity is to thinking creatively. Curiosity embraces new ideas and diverse perspectives. It also questions authority, takes risks and challenges perceived constraints. Curiosity is the itch that must be scratched.
Competence is often described as mastery or proficiency.
There are two schools of thought on what constitutes competence:
- One is that competence is an end state based on certain accepted criteria. When a professional passes the exam, gets the credits or earns the credential, they are deemed “competent.”
- The other school views competence as a perpetual state of learning.While an individual strives to stay on the cutting edge of knowledge, he knows that it is elusive and must be pursued with vigor.
Particularly in businesses related to technology, biotechnology and healthcare, building expertise is a driver for competitive success. It’s not just a matter of having knowledgeable people among the ranks. It means having people who are motivated to “get smart” each and every day. Finding, developing and retaining these folks must be a deliberate strategy.