by Kevin | Jul 19, 2019

The Emperor’s new clothes

Anyone who has worked for a large organisation in the past 20 years has probably been exposed to the concept of a ‘core’ competence model or a ‘behavioural’ competence model.

These models come in many guises and are often accompanied by a very heavy folder (electronic or paper!) containing detailed and graduated descriptors according to your level of seniority. Everyone, from middle management upwards, has a similar set of competences and these are designed to help the organisation deliver its purpose and mission. Irrespective of technological advancements, competitor strategies or client needs, the answer to your problem lies in the model.

However, strangely, most of these competences are very similar everywhere you go and are therefore normalizing, not differentiating, your organisation from others. In other words removing competitive advantage not creating it.

And herein lies the problem.

These models are generic to the point of irrelevance and are so detailed that only Clark Kent on a good day could possibly satisfy even half of it. The content is so commonly adopted it must be right and leadership teams admire the references to well read management theories; the good, the great, the six things, the seven habits or the emotionally intelligent. No one says “why is this right for us?” Instead, just like our “Emperor and his new clothes” they admire and fawn it without really getting it at all.

So here’s a thought. What if your competence model was specifically designed by you to address your current execution challenge and nothing else?

Let’s say, hypothetically, you have a problem with client satisfaction caused by a lack of internal cross-functional cooperation (sound familiar?) You can probably define the change you’re looking for with 2 capability needs and a maximum of 4 or 5 desired actions/ behaviours for each. The model will be defined in a way that is relevant to today’s challenges, it will take 5 minutes to complete the ubiquitous 360 survey instead of the current half hour and the outputs will be focused on your issues.

The competence requirements of your organisation are dynamic and unique! Be a competent leader and get focused on your specific problems, not the generic, irrelevant ones. Let everyone else worry about these and let them tell the ‘Emperor’ how great he is. 

Kevin Brownsey (Creator of CompetenceQ: Your competence model for your challenges)

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