“Jack (or Jill) of all trades, master of none.”

This well-known, but slightly insulting figure of speech originated way back in 1592. Originally the phrase was simply “Jack of all trades” and is attributed to Robert Greene, a popular English author of the day. This derisory throw-away line was apparently directed towards a certain William Shakespeare. It was a deliberately brutal and dismissive attack. The Bard was a slow starter. He spent his early years hanging around theatres, helping with the stage set-up, costumes, learning everyone’s lines and experimenting with directing. It was only later the globally acclaimed wordsmith came to prominence.

I had a simpler picture in my mind. I always saw this as someone, mostly a grandfather figure who had the ability to fix anything, and usually with tools that looked like Noah’s hand-me-downs.

My younger son is the original poster boy for kids who take everything apart to see how they work and then put them back together. He spent most of his formative years dismantling his cars, toys, basically anything he could get his hands on. He now comes in very handy around the house mind you, fixing everything from central heating systems to microwaves.

Meanwhile, in the 18th century, someone added “master of none” to the original comment. However, it doesn’t end there. The full quotation is “Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than master of one.” Perhaps this could be the ultimate utility player, the type of person you would want in your team regardless of the event, someone gifted and reliable. Probably the best example would be a decathlete, someone like Jim Thorpe who in 1912 won the Olympic decathlon and its little brother, the pentathlon, just for fun – winning by a large margin.

Team building for some still carries the sting of being last pick for football at school. Now we have psychometric testing and analysis tools. Building teams and leading others is something I enjoy. I love the challenge of helping people recognise their own potential. It has its moments, but the opportunity to see someone blossom the way you always believed they could is genuinely rewarding.

In a previous role I was part of a team of four charged with delivering a disruptive change management project for a network of around 1,200 businesses. The team undertook a Belbin personality analysis, rating each other across a number of behavioural areas. The analysis provided each of us with our top three skill-sets, and interestingly showed that across our small team we had all the required skills to complete any major project, as indeed we did, within timescale and budget.

“The types of behaviour in which people engage are infinite. But the range of useful behaviours, which make an effective contribution to team performance, is finite. These behaviours are grouped into a set number of related clusters, to which the term ‘Team Role’ is applied.” Meredith Belbin

Stewardship Wealth has transitioned from being a multi-skilled, one-man team, to where Simon, Tim and now Emilia, are all engaged with clients. We believe we can accomplish much more as a team than as a group of individuals.

To quote Ken Blanchard, a noted US business consultant and author, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”