Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Coaches and leaders are so often assumed to be experts. However, what is expertise and is there more than one kind?

It is generally regarded that expertise consists of those characteristics, skills and knowledge of a person that distinguishes them from novices and less experienced people. In many domains there are objective measures of performance capable of distinguishing experts from novices: expert medical specialists are more likely to diagnose a disease correctly; expert outdoor leaders are more likely to assess a risk accurately and so on.

Expertise implies a capability toward skilful physical, cognitive and meta-cognitive behaviours; an organised body of knowledge that is deep and contextualised; retrieving and applying knowledge flexibly to a new problem or new knowledge to existing problems; and an ability to notice patterns of information in a novel situation (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000).

The concept of adaptive expertise is concerned with the idea that people who have had extensive, purposeful and varied experiences of doing something (which includes intellectual, physical, emotional and social undertakings) are capable of responding to novel unstructured situations skilfully and successfully (Fazey, Fazey & Fazey, 2005). This element may be recognised in leadership practitioners who are able to act more flexibly when problem solving in complex, ambiguous and unpredictable environments. Such flexible performance is one of the characteristics that can distinguish an expert from a novice (Bransford, Brown & Cocking, 2000). More over it is what sets apart different types of expert (Hatano & Inagaki 1986). This notion could have important implications for those who are acting within the endlessly varying, dynamic conditions that can occur on the sea.

Have you reviewed what kind of expert you are?

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