SDS presentation-creationToday’s follower wants competence in a leader.  During my work life (more than 40 years) competence has become an increasingly important issue for leaders.  Things that were popular when I was entering the workforce, such as charisma, have become less so.

When speaking of competence I’m talking about both perceived and real capabilities.  Perceived competence, for example, is how well you present yourself to groups so they read things into you such as intelligence, confidence and ability.  If you’re running for president, and people perceive you as competent, you might get the votes and the job.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean you can DO the job!   Real competence, however, may be visible to others or not.  If you’re a quiet, behind the scenes achiever, instigator, motivator or peace maker, others may not readily recognize your talents due to the low key nature of your style.   One would hope, that over time, others would come to recognize and value your areas of competence.  Or you may have to blow your own horn!

Research leads me to believe there are four key competencies a leader must be concerned with in this present age.  Those are: building relationships, achieving results, navigating change and making decisions.  Supporting these four key competencies are vital things mentioned in the two previous Big Eight blogs – communication and credibility.   And, of course, there are many other important leadership skills that most likely fall under these four:

Relationships: You’ve heard it said, “It’s all about relationships.”  And, to a large degree, this is true.  It’s hard to accomplish your objectives without the help of others.  Relationships with customers, vendors, examiners, collaborators and employees are all critical to your success.  Well known polls on employee engagement continue indicating that the relationship a worker has with his or her direct supervisor has a lot to do with how productive and happy that individual is in the workplace.

Results:  You’ve also heard it said, “It’s all about results.”   And this is ALSOtrue.  As a leader you were hired or promoted into your position with the expectation you would deliver results.  It’s important for you to be able to set goals, establish priorities, schedule time and manage your workspace on a personal basis.  And, perhaps more importantly, it’s vital for you to learn to achieve results THROUGH others by learning to convey expectations, delegate work and give performance feedback while planning for improvement with  your team and individual team members.

Change: The ability to navigate change has become one of the more important areas of competence over the past few decades due to the shifts in our global, service and technology driven society.  With change the leader needs to be able to predict, plan for and promote change in a manner that brings about next steps and a new normal.

Decisions:  One’s ability to continuously solve problems and make decisions better insures that the leader, team and organization are less likely to fall behind the curve when it comes to all of the change taking place.  Keeping the pace is essential to remain viable, profitable and relevant.  Your ability to decide accurately and quickly and to take decisive action can be a big asset.  Of course, so is the ability to be flexible and change your mind as needed.

Competence is # 3 in Friday’s Big Eight  

Rich Drinon, M.A. has conducted thousands of leadership communication skills training and coaching programs for hundreds of executives and management teams throughout the U.S. and Canada over the past 29 years. More about Rich at Drinon & Associates