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Are CEOs experts at anything?

Successful CEOs are usually people who once had a specific skill set or expertise in specific areas. Over the years they have become what I describe as ‘well rounded’, as a result of a broad range of experiences in leadership and management roles. They have become generalists who are not really experts at anything. 

It’s like riding a bike: over time you subconsciously know how to ride the bike – it comes so naturally that you don’t even realise how you do it. That’s what I think happens over time to CEOs who develop and thrive in their role. When asked how they do certain things, it’s often difficult to explain… you just ‘know how’. It’s almost intuitive. Sometimes it even becomes so natural that you start to wonder if you are really good at anything at all! Of course, if you don’t suffer from a large ego, you will not be bothered that you are no longer an ‘expert’! 

The longer you are a CEO, in my experience, the more likely you become an expert at nothing. Successful CEOs surround themselves with a team of people who are experts in key functional areas. They rely heavily on the advice from a select few, carefully chosen, people. Great leaders know that they can’t do it alone…at the end of the day, leadership is a team sport. A CEO is like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, who makes sure that all the right instruments are playing the right notes at the right time.

What are your thoughts?