There was a time many years ago when general management skills were the be all and end all. If you brought broad vision into many different functional and operational pieces of an enterprise, you could write your own ticket and your career trajectory was both assured and rewarding.

In recent years, however, the call for specialisation of management and leadership skills has led many executives to dig deeper and deeper into the practice of a certain functional role, perhaps within a market niche or even still, within a very specialised industry space.

During one conversation with a highly experienced and globally informed organisational consultant, the dialogue turned to the notion of specialisation – not with an eye toward how leaders are discovering new efficiencies and innovations, but, rather, how specialisation has led to some losing their ability to focus on the big picture.

In today’s world of work, and especially in the realm of the global management executive, it would appear to some that we’re collectively pushed to know more about our own operating environment and less about how it might apply in others. Specialisation, he surmised, is moving us to know less and less about the organisational construct, the people around us, and the opportunities that exist beyond our individual focus.

As a result, what beckons is a meaningful loss of perspective on how one function and what is learned down to its most minute of details, might engage and transform another.

The takeaway? At a time when executives have been incentivised to bring and demonstrate specialist knowledge, it may just turn out that general management perspective is what companies need most, especially when the specialists plumb the depths and seek other views on what their work really means and what it might achieve.


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