Mudassir Iqbal

T-shaped and I-shaped skills are terminology used to define the expertise and talents of team members.

T-shaped skills

There are different types of employees, referred to as “I’s”, “T’s”, and “X’s.” The most desirable type of employee is often a T.

T-shaped skills relate to persons that possess a broad variety of knowledge and abilities across numerous domains, as well as in-depth expertise in a single domain. This shape shows the range and depth of knowledge across a variety of subjects.

The characteristics of individuals with T-shaped skills are as follows:

  • Knowledge breadth: They have a vast array of knowledge and abilities across numerous fields and disciplines.
  • Additionally, they have in-depth knowledge in one specialised subject, symbolised by the vertical line of the “T.”
  • They are able to collaborate effectively across disciplines and apply their expertise in a number of settings.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: They are able to effectively collaborate with individuals from diverse areas of expertise and contribute a well-rounded perspective to the team.
  • They are able to quickly adjust to new situations and acquire new abilities.
  • They are effective communicators who are able to explain difficult ideas to persons with diverse degrees of experience.
  • Problem-solving: They approach challenges with a cross-functional mentality, employing a vast array of knowledge and abilities to provide innovative solutions.
  • T-shaped persons are valuable members of a team since they may contribute to a range of jobs and bring unique perspectives to the table.

They are valuable in a team situation because they can contribute to a variety of activities and offer unique views, whereas I-shaped individuals bring specialised knowledge to the table. Both sorts of talents and knowledge can be beneficial to a team, and it is typically advantageous to have a combination of T-shaped and I-shaped personnel.

Along with T-shaped skills, there are X-shaped skills (meaning an individual is a good managerial candidate) and I-shaped skills (which means the individual is knowledgeable/skilled in a certain area but hasn’t mastered the ability to collaborate).

I-shaped skills

These Individuals have extensive knowledge and experience in one area, but limited knowledge and experience in other areas. This shape reflects a singular concentration of skill.


In conclusion, T-shaped and I-shaped skills are terms used to describe the skills and expertise of individuals in a team. T-shaped individuals have a broad range of knowledge and skills across multiple areas and disciplines, as well as deep expertise in one specific area. I-shaped individuals, on the other hand, have deep expertise in one specific area but limited knowledge or experience in other areas.

Both types of skills and expertise can be valuable in a team, and it’s often beneficial to have a mix of T-shaped and I-shaped individuals. T-shaped individuals bring interdisciplinary skills, cross-functional collaboration, adaptability, good communication skills, and a problem-solving approach to the team, while I-shaped individuals bring deep expertise in a specific area.

In order to build a high-performing team, it’s important to identify the skills and expertise of each team member and create a balance of T-shaped and I-shaped individuals.

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