In today’s economic climate there are leaders that have very job specific knowledge, while there are other leaders that have a good overview of the company/organization but are great leaders. Each of these types of leaders has their own areas of expertise. The question is, “Which is more important to have to be successful?”
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published an article about GE titled, The New GE Way: Go Deep, Not Wide by Kate Linebaugh. The article explained that new approach that GE is taking with their leadership.
In the past GE had all of their high ranking leaders were to go wide. They would go from one department/location in the company to another on a regular basis. The rotations occurred every few years.
This approach allowed GE to develop their leaders with a broad range of experience. They had experience in many areas of the company, but they didn’t have really specific knowledge in any particular department of the company. Each area of the company had their experts, but the leaders had general knowledge.
GE is now taking a different approach to leadership. They decided to go deep. They are doing a complete paradigm shift in leadership. They are now having their leaders focus on a specific area to become subject experts. They are now having the leaders go into a specific branch of the company and stay there for their careers. The reasoning behind this is that GE feels the leaders will have a deeper knowledge of the products in that field and be able to sell them better.
Just as GE has identified, there are two types of leaders: those with job specific leadership knowledge and those with extensive leadership experience. If you want to be a great leader, is it more valuable for you to focus on a specific area to become a subject expert, or should you focus on obtaining leadership experience in a wide variety of areas? Which type of leadership is more important? Is GE going to be successful in this new paradigm? Please share your thoughts and comments in the comment section below!