Being able to do something for an extended period of time doesn’t mean you’re good at it in a practical setting. And, moreover, it doesn’t mean you can lead someone else well.
Example: Being able to write “I will not quit” 1,000 times on a whiteboard doesn’t make me an author, nor does it mean that I can be the editor of a great book on the efficiency of writing. It means I can write the same thing over and over again without quitting. Plain and simple.
Likewise, being in a field for a long time doesn’t make you a leader. And, in a day and age where I have the ability to read whatever I need to in order to understand the basic processes of a role, it is more important for me to invest time in developing integrity and leadership as opposed to the technical skills that can be learned.
Mediocre experience over time does not equate to leadership anymore (and, if we’re honest with ourselves, it never did). That is an archaic thought process that kept people in power for years longer than they should have been. Many of them are just around for retirement and, the only reason they want to lead is to get a more comprehensive benefits package on that last day (I’ve seen it with my own eyes in numerous instances). Companies and organizations, my charge to you is to look for someone who has exceptional character and who has invested in their leadership development, hire them, and I’m pretty sure they’ve got the work ethic necessary to master the subject matter (unless you’re looking for someone to head up your emergency room or you need someone to lead your quantum physics team, then look for that required experience/training).
Here’s the catch though: If you have an actual leader who has an inspirational attitude, longevity, and who is still learning, you’re in a great position. The hard part is being able to differentiate that leader from someone just in it for the glory.
Make professional development a priority.