People often refer to me on occasion as being a ‘Guru’ in different contexts - seeking to express their appreciation for my knowledge and skills in relation to social franchising, social and co-operative enterprise, governance, social impact reporting,… - and I’m always nervous if they do so publicly.
Not because I don’t think I’m ‘worthy’ of recognition, but because of the risk that I might start to believe my own hype - which leads to complacency and arrogance. Which leads to people I work with not getting the standard of support they need, and so not benefiting as they should do.
I find myself having to manage a difficult tension - presenting this hype as part of my expert abilities in order to win commissions of work, but at the same time needing to make sure that I remain humble enough to work alongside clients in ways that they’re comfortable with and that are appropriate, recognising where I might need to change my approach or invest in new skills.
There’s also a risk to my professional relationships within networks and with my peers - there are plenty of self-proclaimed ’Gurus’ out there, who through ignorance end up offering a poor quality of service and support that leaves clients in a worse position that when they started. As a result, people are often sceptical of ‘Gurus’, and I’m concerned that I’ll be tarred with the same brush.
The key lesson in all this is not to take a persons’ word for how great they are in their field of expertise - ask for examples and testimonials. If you’re not able to ask for such things (for whatever reason), then you can do things like look at their websites, or recommendations on their LinkedIn profile.
Don’t believe what you’re told at face value - you’re relying on the ‘expert’ to support you to resolve an issue or problem you don’t feel able to yourself, and its you who’ll be left to live with whatever they introduce or implement on your behalf - they can walk away afterwards, but you can’t.