I have just heard that I have progressed to stage 3 of the interview process, for my dream job. WOHOOO! 🙂 But… the next interview entails a competency based interview. Yikes.
Last September, I was required to design a “competency framework” which will be discussed in this blog post. Following this activity, I was prompted by a lecturer in DCU, to devise a personal development plan (PDP). During the year then, I have been crafting this plan. In this, I have listed various competencies which I have sought to actively improve upon. This will, I hope, help with my interview. But not only that, it also highlights specific competencies or skills deemed important in terms of overall personal or career development. An outline of my PDP is presented at the foot of this post.
My Competency Framework
“A competency is effective performance of a task or activity in a job setting, due to the underlying characteristics of the individual: motives, traits, skills, self-image, social role, or knowledge and experience” – Boyatzis, R., The Competent Manager: A Model for Effective Performance, New York: Wiley, 1982. I have broken these competencies into three different areas, personal competencies, social competencies and cognitive competencies.
1.) Personal Competencies
Personal Competencies represent a set of attitudes, skills and values that are possessed by a person. This set of skills impact on an individual ability to work effectively and contribute positively to their companies, clients and profession. These competencies incorporate a wide range of abilities, including being strong written and verbal communicator, to demonstrating the value-add of their contributions, to being able to think creatively and innovatively in an always changing working environment. Four of the main personal competencies are leadership, communication, self management, and analysis.
Leadership: Leadership includes an individual’s level of self confidence and self belief. A person with strong leadership competency remains flexible and positive in a time of continuing change. They celebrate and encourage self achievement and the achievement of others. They build an environment of mutual respect and trust, respects and values diversity
Communication: Communication skills are key personal competencies. Good communication competency incorporates presentation skills. Communication includes verbal and non verbal communication. A good communicator is able to communicate plans and ideas effectively. They also have high interpersonal listening skills.
Self Management: Self management includes the ability to recognise the value of personal career planning. Good self management allows an individual to self motivate in order to successfully complete a task. They also have the ability to understand one’s own moods and emotion. They can self regulate and control their moods and emotions. Self management gives an individual the ability to balance work, family and community obligations. Self management also includes being able to manage your own self development. This results in an individual having the ability to understand their skill set and focus on areas for development.
Analysis: Being able to use analysis in a range of situations is a key personal competency. Being able to see the larger picture and tackle a task from multiple angles is an example of good analysis ability. An individual with analysis skills is able to recognize the balance of collaborating, leading and following they are able to take calculated risks and they plan, prioritise and focus on what is critical.
2.) Social Competencies
According to an article by Eric Trogdon in the Nations Cities Weekly he agrees that the social competency improves effectiveness amongst leaders. I conducted research in to what key social competencies and skills are required for effective leaders. The three most important skills or competencies were as follows; respect, relationship management and empathy.
Respect: Firstly respect is gained by leaders from their ability to regard workers opinions and values regardless of their behaviours and respond to them truthfully.
Empathy: This competency is closely related to the respect skill required by leaders. In order to achieve empathy as a leadership skill one must earn trust by understanding others and treating everyone the correct way. Empathy also involves showing genuine concern and listening to other with understanding.
Relationships: The final social competency to be discussed is that of relationships which incorporates collaboration and cooperation. Leaders who encompass this competency encourage relationship bonding allowing the free sharing of ideas. By creating a cooperative friendly workplace leaders can nurture internal and external opportunities and allows for everyone to be evolved creating a sense of self satisfaction.
3.) Cognitive Skills
Cognitive Skills can be defined as any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring and utilising knowledge; these skills include analytical and strategic reasoning, perception, creativity and intuition. Leaders must assimilate and synthesize information rapidly, be contextually astute, recognize the complexity in issues, challenge assumptions and face up to reality.
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” — A. Einstein
What Einstein was trying to convey, was the difference between cognitive skills and academic skills. The implication for leadership is this: just as cognitive skills are the mental capabilities required for academia, they are also the underlying skills which must function in order to be a good leader. For example; a good leader must not only have the knowledge, they must also be conceptual thinkers. They will identify patterns and key issues in complex situations. They may also utilise creative or inductive reasoning to lead change.
Two key competencies, in a Cognitive Leaders armory include; Strategic Thinking and Emotional Intelligence.
Strategic Thinking: Strategic Management theory, generally, takes the stance that managers, and leaders, will make rational decisions, based on all available knowledge. So cognitive skills for leadership involve an inductive and intuitive mindset. The concept of “Emotional Intelligence” should now be introduced.
A well learned Academic may not be a good leader. IQ ignores many behavioural and character elements such as social and interpersonal interaction. A good leader showcases effective awareness, control and management of his/her own emotions, and those of his/her followers. Daniel Goleman, the most prominent academic to champion this concept, writes about five “domains” of EQ: 1.) Knowing your emotions 2.) Managing your own emotions 3.) Motivating yourself 4.) Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions (empathy) 5.) Manging relationships (the emotions of others.)
Level 1: Build leadership trust. Entrust a self confidence and belief in work colleagues within your own department who trust your judgements.
Level 2: Managing leadership confidence. An ability to gain confidence and trust of your entire organisation that will follow, justify and back your decisions.
Level 3: Controlling leadership. Lead and build an external environment of interconnected organisations which encourage self achievement towards the improvement of the marketplace.
Level 1: Establishes regular communication with and among the team. Keeps relevant persons informed. Secures the needed support, explains rationale and justifies key decisions.
Level 2: Empowers others and embraces their input. Builds team spirit to promote effectiveness. Communicates a vision and then brings it to fruition. Offers followers a sense that change is achievable and that their contributions are important.
Level 3: Communicates to external groups such as stakeholders and is able to inspire subordinates to contribute and lead. Aligns organization’s efforts. Removes obstacles and creates momentum.
Level 1: Analyse the internal workings of your team and improve on problems which arise.
Level 2: Recognise your entire organisations internal processes and plan to optimise productivity.
Level 3: The ability to analyse your external processes while dealings with a network of companies. Leading to collaboration for improvement.
Level 1: Has the ability to recognise the value of personal career planning.
Level 2: Can self regulate and control their moods and emotions.
Level 3: An individual having the ability to understand their skill set and focus on areas for development.
Level 1: Respect your individual workers and teams values and beliefs. Respect your internal work team by listening to their opinions and ideas.
Level 2: Accept the value structure of other organisational departments and build respect by listening and sharing concerns without being bias to any of their positive or negative values or belief structures.
Level 3: Lead your company to be open with other enterprises that either share or oppose to your companies own values. This truth allows for mutual respect to accept one another and create a successful business network.
Level 1: Understanding the genuine needs and concerns of the colleagues you interact with on a daily basis within your working department.
Level 2: Create an organisational wide network which supports different department and individual concerns. This network can help understand the needs of the workforce and improve their capabilities and improve their productivity.
Level 3: Encourage the market your organisation works in to listen with understanding to each business in order to deal with market problems and changing trends to improve the market and ensure competition and market profitability in the long term.
Level 1: Create a relaxed and friendly working environment for colleagues to create and expand on new ideas and plans.
Level 2: Lead inter-organisational research and development teams which can build an alliance and improve efficiency.
Level 3: Guide a collaborative market research team across two separate industries in order to improve productivity to both industries. An example of this would be the work being done to creating collaboration between the business world and technological world.
Level 1: Open Mindedness. Illustrates an openness to new information and opinions from diverse standpoints.
Level 2: Analyzing information. Makes sense of disparate information; sees patterns and trends. Comfortable moving between detail on the ground and also the big picture.
Level 3: Strategic reasoning, creativity and intuition. Crystallizes key points from an array of disparate sources of information and makes logical sense of complex situations. Develops new ways of explaining complex issues. Will see beyond the obvious and explain in simple terms.
Level 1: Self awareness. Illustrates a good awareness of own feelings and emotions
Level 2: Controling and managing own emotions. Acknowledging the causes of emotional reaction to particular situations. Understand own strengths and weaknesses
Level 3: Control/ Managing others’ emotions. Cognizant of particular emotions’ impact, on self and others. Highly emphatic and intuitive. Will tactically empower or use informal persuasion to strategically influence others.
Justification for competencies selected
Personal competencies are essential for developing and becoming leaders of tomorrow. Leadership and communication are essential components of the personal competencies which are evident in the article by Eric Trogdon (2009) which states “Our professional culture is in a generational change that will depend on leadership and communication to maintain the past lessons learned while merging new and innovative ideas”.
Aparna Nacherla (2010) conducted a study on a number of high executives which were asked to select six competencies that best characterised the most successful leaders in their organisations. According to the study 42.2% of all executives say good communication skills are necessary in becoming effective leaders. Fowlie and Wood (2009) suggest that bad leadership equates to a lack of self management and relationship management competencies. As a result of being poor at these key competencies an individual is unable to manage or lead successfully. According to Fowlie and Wood (2009) leaders should focus on developing self management and relationship management competencies.
Soderquist et al (2010) found that the effectiveness of organisations today depends largely on leaders’ abilities to activate, share and transform the intellectual capital of the company into a sustainable and competitive advantage. In order to be able to carry out the aforementioned tasks an individual would require analysis skills as a competency. Eric Trogdon (2009) believes that effective leaders need skills to respond appropriately and properly to positive perceptions of others in order to gain personal respect. Respect is one social competency required by leaders of today because an organisation willing to follow and adapt is much more likely to succeed than an anti-change organisation.
Respect can be earned by the other social competency that is empathy by gaining trust and understanding your workers. Upon reflecting on the article of Eric Trogdon he is of the assumption that effective leaders with good social competencies can create opportunities for interaction of workers to share ideas and questions creating improved outcomes. This assumption closely ties into our choice of collaboration as a necessary competency required in order to become an effective and influential leader. Aprana Nacherla (2010), shows that 44% of all executives recognise that creating an environment of trust and respect is a key competency for successful leaders.
The article; “Strategic Thinking: is leadership the missing link” proposes that two approaches to strategic thinking exist, a behaviorist approach and a cognitive approach. Both camps agree that leaders often make decisions based on rules of thumb – or heuristics. There is then, a risk of e.g: selective perception, wishful thinking and conservatism. As a result of this it is clear that strategic thinking is a key competancy for leaders to possess. The article; “Planning on the left side and Managing on the Right” illustrates how leaders may “synthesize” information rather then “analyze” in a logical, structured manner. Because the brain does not always act in a syncronized fashion, a leader’s decision making process may be more intuitive then intellectual and more relational and holistic then ordered and sequential.
Now, back to my own Personal Development Plan.
I selected the following competencies because I feel they are critical to excelling in my desired sales role in a certain leading internet marketing company. The undertaking of various self assessments helped me select specific competencies which required fine tuning. Examples of such self assessments included:
Self-awareness assessment, Defining issues test, Learning style inventory, Locus of control scale, Tolerance of ambiguity, Belbin’s team roles, Emotional intelligence assessment, PAMS, Jungian Personality Test, Intrinsic motivation assessment, Leadership style inventory, Competency framework for a new leader, Identifying aspects of personal culture test, Creative problem solving, Creative style assessment, Team working self-assessments, Team development behaviours pre-test, Diagnosing the need for team building, Personal career social networking analysis, Leadership analysis and a Conflict management assessment.
See below my PDP: (click to zoom)
In the next blog then, I aim to discuss one module I completed; Next_ Generation Management or “N_G_M”. The reason being, that this allowed me an excellent opportunity to develop some of these competencies.