Greg McKeown kind of nailed it on LinkedIn.
There is always a tension between specialization and generalization and I am not suggesting we should shift entirely to one side or the other. Being able to do many things is important in many jobs today. Broad understanding also is a must. But developing greater discernment about what is distinctive about us can be a great advantage. Instead of simply doing more things we need to find our highest point of contribution. Failure to be conscientious about this represents the #1 mistake, in frequency, I see capable people make in their careers.
The above is so very true. Luckily sometimes we are conscientious about this and do realize that our strengths, knowledge and skill-set are not used at its best. Often we are indeed capable of making more valuable contributions in other areas. This is essentially an unfortunate development for both the individual, the company and its customers from a micro perspective and the market at macro level. I hope you may agree with me that one’s role and designation in the first place is a huge motivator for the individual. It enhances self-development and growth as a professional. Consequently, it will contribute to the growth of the business too.
To add to this discussion, I think we should also factor in our education/qualification in the equation. For young people this is important and very relevant too. I read a research from the University of Ghent recently and I can totally agree with it. In this study, it is pointed out that starter jobs below qualification are not a launch pad to a job at the right level. The results of their analysis demonstrate that young school leavers would benefit from continuing to look for a job that matches the skills they have acquired at school. If they accept a job below their qualification level, they risk becoming stuck for a long time and not progressing to a job that matches these skills. All this unused knowledge is leading to a loss of economic efficiency also. In other words, our qualifications being out of synch with our job, is not a healthy development for both the individual and the market. This can really dampen the individual’s spirit.
Then also, if the individual complains about his/her job not being challenging enough, the danger exists that out-of-touch managers delegate more of their responsibilities to them. This will of course ease the situation, but is not a sustainable solution. It all depends on the business requirements, available opportunities and a good sense of drive to move into the most suitable position. But generally speaking, as Alexis de Tocqueville said: “when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces. But such a combination is not always in evidence.”