Are you a T-shaped person?

If you’re a leader at your company looking to transform your business, it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing I should be doing right now?”

Next, think about, “What am I really good at?”

The third and final question is, “Are what I’m doing and what I’m good at in alignment?” They should be.

With that said, how can we build on your personal skill sets and fine tune your knowledge to do truly great work in your chosen field?

To help with that, Ideo CEO Tim Brown has a theory around developing T-shaped skills you need to explore:

T-shaped people have two kinds of characteristics, hence the use of the letter “T” to describe them.

The vertical stroke of the “T” is a depth of skill that allows them to contribute to the creative process. That can be from any number of different fields: an industrial designer, an architect, a social scientist, a business specialist or a mechanical engineer.

The horizontal stroke of the “T” is the disposition for collaboration across disciplines. It is composed of two things. First, empathy. This is important because it allows people to imagine the problem from another perspective — to stand in somebody else’s shoes. Second, they tend to get very enthusiastic about other people’s disciplines, to the point that they may actually start to practice them.

T-shaped people have both depth and breadth in their skills.

When it comes to your job, are you a nibbler, meaning someone that wears a bunch of hats, or a person that’s laser-focused in your area of expertise?

Rather than continue to nibble at the edges, give some thought to raring back and firing your best fastball through the heart of the plate. Build on your best-in-class skills, and lean on your team’s unique ability to work together to solve problems.

It’s easy to use the we’re-a-small-business-so-we-have-to-wear-a-lot-of-hats excuse. Challenge yourself to concentrate your time on the role your company needs you for most. Is that being a full-time CEO, award-winning creative director, or the best manager you can be?

T-shaped leaders know themselves and dig deep to get it done. Remember, it’s not about how many things you can do. It’s about the depth and breadth of your transformational skills that will get your company to the next level.

By Jason Piasecki, Partner +  Aspiring T-Shaped Person

Jason Piasecki
Jason is a Partner and the CEO at Revel, a B2B marketing agency. He is a diehard baseball fan who loves his Detroit Tigers. Family vacations often revolve around seeing games in different MLB ballparks around the country – they’ve been to 21 so far and counting. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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