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Difference Between Subject Matter Expert and Team Leader

The business environment has become highly competitive. As a result, firms have to be highly competitive to thrive. Among the determining factors to the success of a business include the level of leadership skills as well as expertise. In the sales and marketing sector, for instance, target sets should be met to sustain a business as well as generate profits. This should be done with the help of a team leader. While leadership roles are essential in business, the provision of expertise is paramount. The provision of expertise services by subject matter experts as well as leadership by a team leader is therefore non-negotiable. While both offer essential services, they are different as outlined below. 

What is a Subject Matter Expert?

Also referred to as SME, this is a person who has a deep understanding of a machine, process, material, function, equipment or function. Since these persons have the highest level of knowledge in a specific field, they are sought out by other individuals interested in acquiring certain expertise. The high level of expertise may see subject matter experts serve as witnesses in legal actions such as lawsuits. For one to gain the title, a person should develop expertise in a discipline for a long time. Many subject matter experts, however, pursue degrees in the area of specialization and continuously study the discipline. 

It is common to find subject matter experts in marketing, information technology, customer support, software development, and education. The development of books, technical documents as well as manuals requires the input of these persons. The process, however, takes time, study, intense research, and experience. 

In information technology, for instance, professionals may need to consult a subject matter expert when integrating unfamiliar software applications or when faced with technological anomalies. A team of engineers and architects may need the input of a subject matter expert when considering new design and technological approached in a new building. 

What is a Team Leader?

This is a person who provides guidance, direction, and instructions to a group of individuals or project to positively impact productivity. In any organization or event, a team leader should possess good communication skills, a high level of integrity, remarkable organizational skills, facilitator skills, and negotiation skills, just to name a few. 

In an organization, a team leader is tasked with:

  • Managerial roles- The team leader oversees all activities within the team
  • Strategic roles- The team leader should set strategies on how to accomplish the goals
  • Communication roles- This involves the distribution of information to the team leaders as well as other stakeholders
  • Organization roles- A team leader should structure roles in the team as well as maintain the team’s documents
  • Goal setting- A team leader should set achievable goals for the team

Similarities between Subject matter expert and Team leader

  • Both offer essential services in an organization

Differences between Subject matter expert and Team leader

Definition

Subject matter expert refers to a person who has a deep understanding of a machine, process, material, function, equipment or function. On the other hand, a team leader refers to a person who provides guidance, direction, and instructions to a group of individuals or project to positively impact productivity. 

Level of expertise

While a subject matter expert requires the highest level of expertise, a team leader does not have to possess the highest level of expertise. 

Role

While the role of a subject matter expert is the provision of expertise information to other persons in a specific field, the role of a team leader is to provide guidance, direction, and instructions to a group of individuals or project to positively impact productivity. 

Subject matter expert vs. Team leader: Comparison Table

Summary of Subject Matter Expert vs. Team Leader

Subject matter expert refers to a person who has a deep understanding of a machine, process, material, function, equipment or function and offers the highest level of expertise in a specific field. On the other hand, a team leader refers to a person who provides guidance, direction, and instructions to a group of individuals or project to positively impact productivity. Understanding the two terms can help bring positive change in an organization as well as improve the overall performance. 


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References :


[0]Gail Levitt. Team Planning for Project Managers and Business Analysts. CRC Press, 2016. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=QS4a89LJ5-4C&pg=PA34&dq=Difference+between+Subject+matter+expert+and+Team+leader&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSwPXsp_LnAhXS3KQKHaaDDpEQ6AEIQzAD#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Subject%20matter%20expert%20and%20Team%20leader&f=false

[1]Huszczo Gregory. Tools for Team Leadership: Delivering the X-factor in Team Excellence. Davies-Black Publishing, 2004. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=9EUs23JKViQC&pg=PA10&dq=Difference+between+Subject+matter+expert+and+Team+leader&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSwPXsp_LnAhXS3KQKHaaDDpEQ6AEIMTAB#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Subject%20matter%20expert%20and%20Team%20leader&f=false

[2]David James. Team and Personal Development. Global Professional Publishing, 1998. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=OoS1S5EiboAC&pg=PA56&dq=Difference+between+Subject+matter+expert+and+Team+leader&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjSwPXsp_LnAhXS3KQKHaaDDpEQ6AEIVTAF#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Subject%20matter%20expert%20and%20Team%20leader&f=false

[3]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhk111/36730866663

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimania_2014_Team_leader_name_badge_sticker.jpg

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