One of the most important competencies a person working in cubedom can acquire is leadership. Now, leadership is most often thought of when a person is managing teams (leading - following), but I disagree with that assessment. An individual contributor can be all about leadership.
So, what are the characteristics of an individual leader in business?
The most common way an individual contributor in business can become a leader is through knowledge of a particular subject. All of us know this type of person at work.
"Oh, if you want to know all about widgets and what we can do with them, you want to go find Scot," you'll be told.
You just found yourself a leader working as an individual contributor.
Becoming a leader by knowing about a subject, however, is more than knowing about the subject. The key is that one knows about a subject that is important to the business - and knows how the subject you know all about can be used to reach business goals.
Knowledge of a subject without being able to communicate how what you know contributes to business goals (increasing market share, reducing costs, increasing productivity, all for example) is merely being smart in a subject. Not about being a leader.
You want to be a leader. More on this the next post.