6 Ways Being A Generalist Can Help You To Specialize Better

Many people falsely believe that being a specialist is essential in today’s business environment. However, that might not be the case. I submit that the generalist will become one of the most sought-after professionals in the business world.  

In the past, medical, financial and legal professionals had highly specialized areas of expertise. The belief was that having deep expertise in a particular field will help one advance in that particular field. However, for various reasons, this view is no longer the dominant practice. People are discovering that it is best to know and be able to execute on many things rather than only being the best at just one thing well. Here are the reasons why being a generalist in today’s business world might help you land opportunities quicker.

Full disclaimer, I believe that “specialists” are necessary and typically earn more than a “generalist” however, I don’t believe that generalists are valued as high or as impact-ful as they should be.  

You Become a “Jack of all Trades”

A Jack of All Trades is a multi-talented individual who can perform a variety of tasks. They know a little about a lot of things. If you are a Jack of all Trades, you might know how to perform basic accounting duties, have some customer service skills and know entry-level programming. However, you are not an expert in any of these areas. There are a lot of hidden perks that come with being a “Jack” or “Jill” of all trades. Some of the benefits include:

  • Versatile employee – If you are a Jack or Jill, then you are a valuable, versatile employee that can perform a variety of tasks and jobs.
  • Adaptability – You can adapt to many different situations and environments if you are a Jack of all Trades. You are not likely to get stressed about what comes next as you are used to learning new things.
  • Go-Getter Attitude – You probably have a “go-getter” attitude if you are a Jack. Otherwise, you would not have been willing to learn so many different things. A self-motivated, go-getter is also a valuable employee as they are ready to take on any challenge that comes their way.

It Makes You a Better People Person

Human interaction and social skills are the major keys to success in any business. If you have poor social skills, then you will find it very hard to get very far—even if you are an expert in your field. Generalists usually play a lot of different roles, which means that they get plenty of opportunities to interact with others. This also leads to better networking opportunities and networking is one of the sure-fire ways of generating traction in business.

Generalists Make Better Managers and Leaders

In the business world, it is the generalists who end up running the show because they have a broad range of skills to help them rise to power the quickest. You will notice that military generals are not called military specialists. They have a general or broad range of skills that help them lead others. Steve Jobs did not need to specialize in engineering to run Apple. Nor did he need to know programming in depth. Because of his many skills in a range of areas, such as leadership, Jobs was able to understand the big picture and innovate.

No matter how knowledgeable you are in a particular field, there are certain skills that you must possess to be an effective manager. Without being a generalist of sorts, it would be challenging to lead others. Managers must have knowledge in many different areas, including:

  • Communication
  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Sales
  • Logistics
  • Project management

Being a Generalist Can Help Improve Your Time Management Skills

Whether you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, CEO or employee, you probably have an endless array of things to do in a short amount of time. To be productive and profitable, you must understand and know how to apply time management strategies to get everything done.

If you are a generalist, then you probably manage multiple projects at one time. This means that you have probably worked enough through the art of time management that you should be able to manage your time as well as others.

You Have a More Robust Vendor List

Vendors are essential to any business—whether you operate an established corporation or a small startup, you probably rely on vendors for various supplies. The importance of having reliable vendors cannot be overstated. You need good vendors to run a successful business. If you are a generalist, you probably have access to a larger vendor list than someone who is a specialist. You, more than likely, will have access to a wider pool of vendors as well. This can make it easier to run your business.

Generalists Tends to Be Better Listeners

Savvy business owners and managers know how important good listening skills are to the success of an organization. Active listening is essential for anyone—whether they work individually or part of a team. Listening skills also impact customer relations. Being a generalist provides the chance for a person to develop better listening skills. Why? A generalist must have to listen to a variety of different ideas and topics. They learn to listen attentively and pay better attention.

As is evident, being a generalist does not make you any less valuable to an organization than a specialist. In fact, it might make you more likely to come out on top because of your versatility, ability to adapt and other innate skills that come with being a generalist.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

10 Responses to 6 Ways Being A Generalist Can Help You To Specialize Better

  1. Tyrone Andrews says:

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  2. John Smith says:

    I believe that it is important not only to be an expert in your business, because it shouldn’t be discussed at all. It is also important to understand how to work with a particular social network, app or CRM that you use to run business.

  3. Mark H Black says:

    I agree with you, so when I have difficulties in the process of work, I don’t want to immediately turn to the specialists, but I try to find information on my own, figure it out and solve the problem. I recently accidentally blocked my partner on Linkedin, so I had to google how to unblock on linkedin to quickly fix it. Well, now I know how to do it right.

  4. SamGreys says:

    I try very hard to adapt to the business environment as quickly as possible, to streamline a workflow, but so far I spend too much time on simple and repetitive tasks.

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