Expert or Adviser?

Are you an expert? An adviser? Both? Experts have deep technical expertise, high expectations, and consistent performance. The job is to be precise and right. They take on the work and get it done to expectations and beyond. Think surgeon, financial investor, aerospace engineer, etc.

An adviser may have many of the same characteristics, but the primary focus is to be helpful. They provide input and guidance. They may assist in a decision-making process without taking control or responsibility. They often point out multiple options and the pros and cons of each. Think coach, instructor, family counselor.

There is nothing wrong with either role. Sometimes we might need both, or one might be more appropriate than the other for a given situation. Personal health care is a good example. Do I need a surgical or medical intervention, which would require an expert? Or am I considering changing behavior to become healthier, thereby needing an adviser for guidance and support?

hat-392732_640As a leader, what’s important is to recognize when you need to be in an expert role versus and adviser role. If you approach a situation that warrants an expert and you have your adviser hat on, you may be perceived as indecisive and perhaps lacking in competence. However, if you act as an expert when an adviser is needed, you may come across as too authoritative and not empathetic. Matching the role to the need on a situation-by-situation basis will increase your effectiveness.

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