The Power of Being a Generalist
When we focus only on the superstars, we lose sight of the people who tie all the superstars together
When I was a teenager, I thought I wasn’t good at anything. I was, in my own eyes, mediocre at everything, never the standout or the superstar. As I have navigated my career, I have come to realize that being a generalist, being good at a broad spectrum of subjects, is a superpower, not a weakness. I am constantly curious and learning new things, which sets me up to be able to lead people from different backgrounds because I have experienced their backgrounds, too.
We’re not superstars — and that’s okay
This might seem like an oxymoron, but the very fact that we generalists aren’t superstars is one of our superpowers. Superstars are specialists, people who stand out in one particular specialty — they are the people easily seen and noticed. There is nothing wrong with being a superstar, but there are aspects of being a generalist that give us advantages over specialists.
We speak your language
Generalists are always learning new things, which means there’s a greater chance we have dabbled in your specialty and can understand what you do and what is required for your job. At the same time, we know we’re not the experts — you are. The best generalists know that they are generalists, meaning we know when we need to hand over the reins to someone with deeper knowledge.
Generalists are constantly looking for new challenges and new things to learn. We thrive on change and growth. You’ll often see us taking on tasks outside of our job descriptions so we can learn something new, or testing the water to see if we might want to move in a new direction. We learn about how other people do their jobs so we can be better equipped to work with them. We look at the big picture of how different people and pieces fit together and our place within that. I might be biased, but I think this makes us great people to work with.
We leave our egos at the door
As people who are always learning and adding to our skillset, we know that we don’t know…