Generalists and Specialists

September 22, 2008

Posted in Management.

I’m a generalist. It has a lot to do with my professional ADHD: I can’t seem to focus on one thing. That means I’m not particularly great at any one thing. I am good at lots of stuff but rarely excellent.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never find success. It just means that I won’t be astonishingly successful on my own. I’ll be mediocre on my own. But the lesson needn’t a negative one: I need to be a connector. I need to find and bring excellence to the same table and have the real talent create excellence.

I need to find specialists. Marty, who runs our board development committee, is helping me find and recruit experts.

  • We got a finance guy to help rework and reevaluate our programs’ budgets.
  • We have a marketer with a long history in PR and print to help us in those areas (of which I know practically nothing).
  • I’m finding a project manager to take over marketing projects (it’s funny how my side projects always seem to move my career ahead faster than my day job).
  • And I’m a fundraising novice, so I’m looking for a fundraising ninja.

The best part about specialists is that they often need a generalist to help keep the other stuff off their plates. My job is to bring them together, give them a challenge, and then clear the way so they can do what they do best. And that’s something I can do quite well.

So I’m a generalist. That’s ok.

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