The Expert in Sheep's Clothing

Leadership Corner

Now that I’m in the mid-life of my career, I’ve struggled with the following questions lately: Do I want to “move up” in my current job? If so, do I need to go back to school? How much value can I place on hard-earned, practical experience? Do I need to learn a new skill to stay competitive, secure, AND have a job that I love?

I regularly listen to podcasts and devour articles and books on how to better my personal and professional life. I truly enjoy learning and self-improvement. Last year, I came across the book The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed by Kelly Palmer and David Blake. The authors examine the very culture of learning: what it is, how it’s conducted, and what it means for tomorrow’s workforce. Most importantly, it helps business leaders place value on the well-rounded employee−one who is agile, adaptable, a problem-solver, curious, and has emotional intelligence. It’s not all about the college degree and credentials. Fellow author and business entrepreneur Seth Godin complements Palmer and Blake’s approach. He says the most important skills we can teach our kids are how to lead and how to solve interesting problems. 

The Expertise Economy lays the foundation for changing leader mindsets to strategically prepare their workforce for the skills of the future. This continual upskilling and reskilling in a variety of formats not only helps employers temper the loss of highly-experienced employees due to layoffs and retirements, but gives the student or current professional a wide range of avenues to acquire the latest skills that are relevant and sought out on a resume or in an employee’s job profile. These alternative education avenues include peer-to-peer learning, job shadowing, webinars, certificate programs, podcasts, masterminds, books, articles, and videos, to name a few. These learning formats are not only for task-centered skills, but also for social and psychological fitness.

As I’ve learned through my own journey of college education, internships, volunteer work, mentorships, networking and self-acquired knowledge, it’s my curiosity as well as confidence for what I’ve already accomplished that get me out of bed each day. I continue to learn new things, and I’m fortunate to apply them to a job that needs me now. 

The month's Leadership Corner is written by Karen DeBaker

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