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Empowering the Experienced: Leading Teams with Vast Industry Knowledge

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Entering a leadership role can sometimes be intimidating, especially when managing team members with more industry expertise. Here's how to navigate this challenging dynamic confidently.

One of the most daunting aspects of a new leadership role is inheriting a team with more industry tenure than you. You might, like John, be a recent hire brought in for your unique skills, now facing the challenge of leading a team of seasoned professionals. John's previous leadership success, building a high-performing team from scratch, seems less applicable with his new, experienced team. The key is to empower these industry veterans effectively, which might seem overwhelming at first.

John's situation might mirror your own. You're stepping into a leadership role with a skilled team, more versed in the industry than you are. This reality can cause discomfort and even imposter syndrome, making you question your worthiness for the role.

Your first step should be to establish a strong self-identity and a clear role description during your transition. Poor transitions lead to further insecurities, disrupting the dynamics of the team.

Now, how can you inspire your highly experienced team? Here are four effective strategies:

  1. Foster Autonomy: Empower your team by granting more autonomy in project ownership. This autonomy encourages creative solutions and fosters collaboration within the team.

  2. Acknowledge Strengths: By affirming and explicitly naming team members' strengths, you instill confidence in them. This practice promotes team cohesion and strength.

  3. Encourage Risk-taking: Foster a culture where failure is seen as a stepping stone towards success. Model courage and shoulder responsibility for risks, setting a positive example.

  4. Provide Resources: Enable your team's success by making necessary resources available. These might be additional budgetary allocations, networking opportunities, or project extensions.

Even if your team possesses more industry knowledge, you can still empower them by fostering autonomy, acknowledging strengths, encouraging risk-taking, and providing resources. Embrace these strategies to lead your team confidently and effectively. No matter the expertise disparity, any leader can use these skills to cultivate a powerful, unified team.


  1. What concrete steps can I take to shift my mindset from feeling intimidated by my team's industry expertise to viewing it as a valuable resource that can enhance our collective performance?

  2. How can I foster a culture of autonomy and risk-taking in my team while simultaneously ensuring that I provide the necessary support and resources?

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