• Michael Weinstock

The Career Canvas (4 - Leader or Specialist)

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

If you find what you want to do, and you stick with it, then over time, you will go from being a Junior Professional to becoming a Senior Professional. You will be one of the people who are very knowledgeable about how your professional world works, and you will be very efficient in what you do. Here, I'd like for you to think about what it is that will make you so efficient.


In my mind, one way to reach efficiency is to focus on becoming a better Leader. This is due to the fact that if you can lead others, you can leverage their efforts, and get more or bigger things done than you could on your own. This might be for you if you're a people-person, if you like the idea of delegating tasks, or if you like the idea of building something or Managing something like a team, a company or a department around you or under you.


Another way to reach efficiency, is to instead focus on becoming a Specialist. In that case, you would instead spend your time and effort on a specialisation of your choice. By focusing on a specialisation that is sought after in the marketplace, you be able to evolve and successfully deliver increasingly complex projects over time. As a senior practitioner, you can then be a leading specialist in your field, even to the point of becoming an authority who's comments or opinions are sought after by publications, or who get's invited to go on stage at events or conferences to share their experience. You can make sure to continually get better at your thing, by choosing to do projects that push you, by constantly adding to your certifications and staying up to date in your field. You can also choose to put yourself out there, by working on getting articles or books published, or by sharing your knowledge in arenas such as blog posts or technical forums.

Take 5 minutes and write down your preference. Perhaps you want to focus exclusively on becoming a Leader, or exclusively on becoming a Specialist? Perhaps you'd prefer a combination of both? Such as a Chief Technical Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, or similar sought-after positions? Or perhaps you might arrive at a preference where you start out as a specialist, and then transition to becoming a leader later in life, or vice versa.

I'll say it again -by knowing what you want, you can communicate what you want, as well as what you don't want. A manager that you work under in the future might feel that it would be a good idea to groom you for Leadership. If you at that point haven't specifically decided on, and explicitly communicated, that you actually would rather focus on becoming a Specialist, you just might get talked into doing something that you really don't want to do. Being stuck doing things that they don't want to do is a very real situation for a lot of people, more than you'd think.

Example texts:

-“I plan to spend time and effort on getting better at my leadership skills, so that I can guide and leverage other professionals and so achieve greater things than I could do on my own. In a few years, I plan to have a collected a top tier team and together we'll create great products."

-“I want to focus on becoming a true specialist in my field, perfecting my craft over the years. I plan to be one of the very few existing top level practitioners, who are highly sought after since they can deliver complete products within my specialisation.”
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