Expert: Friend or Foe for Teams?

We go to school to increase our learning and solve problems. We enter the workforce with the expectation of increasing our skills to be the “go to” problem solver. Over time, we have received a very clear message: become a problem-solving expert to be promoted and valuable in organizations. This expert mindset often crashes into the concept of self-organizing teams. Can the expert on a team succeed? Can the expert lead a team? The challenge is that while agile organizations want high-performance teams, we have encountered team after team struggling because of perceived conflicting perspectives: be the expert – but be cross functional, be the expert – but share ownership, be the expert – but be collaborative, be the expert – but your team is accountable. In this session, expect challenge the reasons, personal value, and consequences of the expert role within a team. You’ll walk away with a technique that increases your understanding and appreciation for the value of not quickly fixing it yourself.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

Please note that I selected Talk but this is a very interactive session. I selected talk for the 60 minutes aspect. I could make this 120 if desired to follow the workshop dynamic.

Please note: I listed Jake Calabrese as a co-trainer. We could do this session formally together or informally depending on your program needs.

10 min Connection: Movement Exercise (constellation)
[Expertise helps me] solve problems my team can't
[Expertise helps me] get promotions!
[Expertise helps me] prevent my team from getting in trouble or failing
[Expertise helps me] feel good about who I am...
[Expertise helps me] ... (will add another element based on the conversation occurring)

10 min Concept: Team Evolution (explaining what the goal of self-organizing teams is and the key aspect to achieving them is shared ownership)

5 min: Concrete Practice: Where are you within the team evolution? (table discussion)

30 min: Concrete Practice: Dice Exercise that has partners asking questions to help understand if they really need to be the expert and what they might be missing if they are the expert. Note: I included a screen shot of the questions in the slides. This slide would not be shared on the big screen but as a handout in the room. And yes, I will bring lots and lots of dice :)

5 min: Conclusion: What is one place you have been an expert and what can you do to change?


Please note: the video linked is not this topic. I have several videos of interviews but few speaking options as conferences often now prevent recording. I attached is an old keynote that was published.

Learning Outcome

- Explain Team Evolution

- Explore reasons/motivations to being the expert

- Analyze short term vs long term impacts of being the expert

Target Audience

Leaders (any level)

Prerequisites for Attendees


schedule Submitted 2 months ago

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