Updated: Apr 23, 2022
It occurred to me today that one of the most dangerous people in your business is the person who knows anything about a topic in which you know nothing.
It didn't take but a quick search to find a quote that perfectly frames what I am talking about today:
"Try to learn something about everything, and everything about something" -Thomas Henry Huxley
Many leaders take the time to study their craft, to learn every last detail so that they can be considered an expert in their field. Certainly, this is an extremely effective way of learning your craft, but it can create a challenge if it's the only thing you know.
The moment you add a team member to work alongside you, I believe it becomes imperative that you know something more than just your field of study.
Imagine not knowing anything about a subject and trying to hire someone to join your team in that area. How would you know the right questions to ask in order to determine if they are qualified? Although you could look questions up or get someone to help you formulate them, unless there is a knowledgeable interviewer present in the process, it would be possible for a candidate with even the least bit of knowledge on a subject to trick someone into believing they are qualified for the position.
Learning a subject, even to a lesser degree than your main field of expertise, allows you to not only identify great candidates, it then ensures that no one can feed you just enough information to make you think they are doing well when they are not.
In addition to keeping your team moving in the right direction and knowing that they are putting in their best efforts, learning about things outside of your normal scope of work or interests affords you the ability to relate to more people. When a topic of conversation comes up you'll be in a position to contribute and be remembered. The next time an opportunity becomes available you just might be top of mind for that person simply because you knew a little bit more than they expected.
Topics you take the time to learn today, no matter how insignificant they may seem, could be just the knowledge that you need to know later. Whether it's to avoid someone taking advantage of you or to contribute to a conversation that opens a new door of opportunity. The internet puts all of humankind's knowledge at our fingertips. Let us not use it exclusively on silly memes and arguments, instead let us expand our knowledge to further our lives, careers, and influence.