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You can’t be an expert at everything

February 01, 2013

What you need as a good leader or a good manager is to surround yourself with the skills you are missing and trust your staff.

Vivian Chandra, ICT and database manager at Amnesty International New Zealand, can not remember who gave her this advice early on in her career, but it is something she keeps in mind.

“If you identify in yourself a weakness or just something that you are not particularly strong in, find those skills in your staff and trust that they are doing it right,” says Chandra.

Chandra says recent developments at her job validated this insight. Working for a charity organisation means money is tight, she says. However, just before her former boss the then CEO Patrick Holmes, left Amnesty to head the Royal NZ Coastguard Service, she was able to convince to let her get an assistant.

She hired someone whose role included a focus on digital communications. “She has got a real eye for data and analytics and that has just helped out the digital communications strategy by leaps and bounds that I can never do or have time to learn,” says Chandra.

“The true essence of working as a team is understanding you can’t be an expert in everything,” says Chandra, whose team has expanded to three, including an IT intern.

Likewise, she believes it is important to acknowledge people’s contributions to her team’s success. “You can achieve more than if you try to do everything on your own,” she says. “Play to your strengths and that will get you far.”