Communication with external participants leads to far greater experiences.
I've always taken the approach that everyone can teach me something, and on this trip, where there were a great deal of unknowns, this philosophy was reinforced. Just a casual chat with a passer by can lead to a gem of information. We met a fellow traveller at Portland who was just returning from his own top end adventure. He had taken note of all the fuel prices throughout, which allowed me to plan our fuel stops to take advantage of the best prices! He was quite eager to share his knowledge with us, and as this was early in our trip it really made me consider the wisdom of Dale Carnegies teaching on letting others talk about what they know.
Another great example occurred through a chance conversation at a fuel stop at Erldunda......
....This led to a fellow traveller giving us a copy of the central Australia guide he had from a few years prior. He had marked out the places he had gone through, identifying for us the best places to stop. This allowed us to take advantage of the West McDonnell Ranges, that I otherwise wouldn't have driven through. Similarly, at the Marree Hotel, there were a couple of ranch hands from Alice Springs having a beer after they’d just driven down the track I intended to travel the following day. Over a beer, I was able to get info on the track and other general dirt driving tips from them.
It really made me see that people want to communicate their knowledge and give advice, they want to help! They want to communicate the lessons they've learned through their experiences.
Technical professionals want to communicate their knowledge as well, and they often want to make sure others know how much they know. Becoming a generalist leader requires harnessing their desire to communicate their lessons learnt, ideally through creating an environment that encourages all lessons to be brought forward.
This is first going to require you to listen, and ask questions. A technical professional will want to 'one up' their subordinates to show that they know more about the subject. However, a leader considers what will foster the environment they desire. This requires humility, allowing your team members to continue to think that they know more about the subject, so that they are motivated to maintain that position of knowledge, and therefore work harder for you.
Similarly, the way errors are dealt with by the leader determines the possible learning for the group. A technical professional my narrowly see errors as a sign of incompetence, laziness, or other individual weakness. By articulating this, they ensure the group will be discouraged from bringing forward valuable learning opportunities. Whilst these factors can't be discounted in the medium term, a leaders immediate approach to errors should be from a systematic perspective- where in the system was a failing that allowed this error to pass through? In my experience, this has generally been in the procedures that are employed by the group either not matching the training or not matching the requirements. By articulating this to the group, they will be forthcoming with improvement ideas, allowing the leader to fix the system. This has the added benefit that the group starts taking ownership of their work practices, adopting the systematic approach to errors, with commensurate performance improvements.