Versatility Is Required for Mastery
Versatility is the hallmark of high performers.
A versatile performer combines a mastery of skills and the ability to apply them creatively in a myriad of situations. That’s why high performers are said to have more range.
In other words, they have the experience to apply their skills to any situation that arises. This doesn’t happen by chance. Versatile performers know that skills applied surgically develop differently than talents practiced more broadly.
When leaders strategically attempt to expand their skills by bringing them to varied situations and episodes, they begin to develop versatility. This is true no matter what skill is in play — cooking, speaking, summarizing, coaching, designing, facilitating, drawing, negotiating, problem solving, decision making, synthesizing, motivating.
Whatever the skill, when it is applied in different situations with varied consequences and audiences, the abilities begin to grow. The best leaders learn that adapting skills to fit the demands of a given situation requires creativity. And that greatly benefits skill development.
Leaders don’t create mastery without taking the chance to apply their skills in new settings. Like the best jazz musicians, leaders learn they have to improvise and adapt to new situations in order to be effective.
Every time they take a chance, it gives the leader the renewed confidence essential to improvise their skills in the next new environment. This powerful feeling of enhanced versatility soon becomes addictive. Versatile leaders can’t wait for the next situation upon which to apply their talents.
They know, as one writer reminds us, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”