As the world changes and technologies become increasingly important, it is important that our knowledge and expertise also change.
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Leadership has long been synonymous with competence – and as the Cambridge Dictionary defines it, having competence means coming around the table with a high level of knowledge or skills. But this antiquated view of expertise is changing, and it's a change that professionals must understand and accept if they want themselves and their company to continue to deliver the expected results.
No longer in an analog world
One area that makes it easy to see why the traditional definition of expertise is out of date is technology. People born before my generation were mostly into analog tools and setups – they're side people. However, those born after my generation came into contact with the digital world at a young age. They really are children of the screen. Today the market is largely technology-driven. Change is constant and accelerating exponentially. It's difficult to just keep up, let alone move forward. Due to the realities of modern technology, the degree I earned years ago is no longer entirely relevant and has long outlived its shelf life. Likewise, degrees and the ways we learn and earn them now are likely to become dinosaurs in the not too distant future.
Related: How To Use Your Expertise To Start A Consulting Firm
With technology as the driver, education becomes an entirely different animal
Education is thus the second area in which the need to redefine specialist knowledge becomes clear. In the past, people planned to focus on just one or two topics for most of their careers, staying in the same industry and even geographical location. Specialization is great, but it also needs to be linked to understanding how the business model works and connects. Companies expect their employees to be loyal. So if you had a degree or a specialty, that was enough. You were well educated and ready for the real world. The best employees are the most portable. We no longer work for the “Golden Watch” and for retirement. I tell my children: “You are not looking for the job of life, but the job of life!” By the way, both of them are now entrepreneurs!
Today the world is much more dynamic and it will be even more so. As technology has broken down barriers in communities, states, and countries, workers know that they can learn anything and work for anyone. They no longer have the same level of loyalty to their employers as they used to, and in the United States at least it is no longer taboo for someone to pursue a completely different profession. With hypotheses about the future, we train people for new jobs, some of which do not yet exist and which have not yet been fully conceptualized.
All of this has made people rethink "old-fashioned" academics. A real question arises as to the economic value of traditional degrees as fewer young people are attending college due to ever increasing costs. The Covid-19 pandemic has only fueled this fiery debate. Faced with bans, layoffs, and financial uncertainty, people think hard about what they really want to appreciate and learn. People are no longer willing to spend years working in jobs that they don't enjoy and that don't meet the deeper needs and concerns for which they are passionate as human beings.
Related: How Entrepreneurs Can Solve the College Problem
In this environment, companies try to acknowledge the change in technology and make sure they have a prepared workforce. According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report, half of all workers will need retraining by 2025 as technology increases. Technology utilization, monitoring and control, and technology design and programming are also among the top 10 most sought-after skills. And the overwhelming majority (94%) of business leaders now expect their employees to acquire new skills on the job. That is 65% more than three years ago in 2018.
Further training in the digital space is clearly not optional. Educators are now realizing that they need to change the educational experience to attract learners and keep them employed in order to keep academic institutions profitable and open. Barnes & Noble Education's College 2030 report notes that creating a more seamless, flexible, and personalized experience is now a priority for colleges. Michael Huseby, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of BNED, says, "Over the next 10 years we will see a transformation in the student experience – from admission to graduation – and a shift towards lifelong learning."
Related: Expertise is not enough. How to become a successful business coach.
Expertise is constant progress
While getting credentials gives us a foundation to build on, the truth of Charles Darwin is largely true: “It is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that adapts best to change. ”Driven by technology, we accept that a person is no longer“ done ”with learning and needs to evolve to maintain their“ expert ”status.
So when you think about your qualifications or your level, leave the concept of perfectionism behind and remember that we are all still at work. Stay ready to change and be proactive. When you do this, and also encourage others to adapt in similar and conciliatory ways, many of the problems created by traditional corporate and social divisions and hierarchies can resolve and all can move forward together in real community.