What is Competence?

Competence is more than a skill. It is the ability
to make and keep promises. I believe we can teach a skill, but need
to coach people to be competent. In our work with individual clients
and organizations we stress the importance of having action match
commitments and not becoming trapped in conventional wisdom which
can block our capacity to create possibilites and produce results.

Experience in the past 3 years which has called for
coaching includes:

  • Building executive alignment around a new corporate vision and
  • Transforming a top-heavy and paternalistic bureaucratic culture
    into a flat and competitive entrepreneurial environment
  • Creating a new enterprise
  • Major cost reduction
  • Mobilization and Enrollment of workforce relating to implementation
    of new work processes
  • Coaching Executive to lead initiative to reduce time to market
  • Coaching Executive to facilitate merger of two previously competitive
    technical work groups

The following statements are examples of statements
I use to provoke new thinking about each of the 14 areas of competency
within an intention to reveal new distinctions for the client:

“Cognitive Capacity” is not a function of the brain or IQ.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             It is closely related to another phenomenon called “cognitive blindness”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What you don’t know you don’t know is more important to developing cognitive power than what you do know

“Creativity” is a social phenomenonand suggests a different model of communication than we normally
have available. Learning to be creative begins with learning to
observe differently — learning to observe what is missing rather
than what is wrong.
“Visioning”isn’t having a picture
isn’t having a picture
of the future. It is creating the possibility of an unpredictable
future that becomes a ground-of-being in the present.
“Action Management” presupposes that
you know what action is and can observe it. What actions are present
when you are “managing”? Consider that all commitment
are actions which can be observed and changed.
“Organizational Awareness” like
all awareness isn’t descriptive. It is more like a sensibility
to the context(s) within which our awareness is occurring.
“Teamwork” is mostly a red-herring
used to cover up an unwillingness to talk straight about a lot
of basic issues such as a lack of trust and our incompetence in
coordinating actions in a complex environment. When great teams
are working, there is never any discussion of teamwork….just
working together.
“Partnering” is a way of relating,
a way of listening, an assessment of our commitments to each other
and the world. What is important is what are our practices as
partners for dealing with breakdowns.
“Interpersonal Relations” is a description
of human practices in relationships. All relationships are interpersonal.
The question is, do our practices for relating produce satisfaction
and results consistent with what we say we’re about?
“Communications” is something that
everyone agrees is important. Consider, however that in spite
of this and billions spent to improve communication, there is
very little evidence that people in general communicate any better
than they ever have. Perhaps the problem is that there is a flaw
in our everyday notions about communication. Maybe communication
has less to do with exchanging and understanding information than
it has to do with commitment.
“Stamina/Stress Resistance” is another
description which can (and does) obscure what is really going
on when we feel stress. Science has proven that physiologically
there is no difference between “eustress” (good) and
“distress” (bad). The difference seems to be in our
interpretation of the experience and the context in which it occurs.
Having a breakthrough in this area also involves a transformation
in how we relate to whatever it is that we say is causing our
“Ethics and Values” are probably
one of the two or three most important issues to consider in a
post modern world in which circumstantial change is accelerating
and uncertainty is becoming a norm. This discussion begins with
the question of personal responsibility and choice about “who
one is” in the organization.
“Personality” like style or charisma is less important than we typically think if we                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       can listen generously and build a culture based more on commitment than assessment.
“Behavioral Flexibility” Assumes we have a choice about our behavior.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Normally we don’t. Behavior is a function of how we see the world. We do have a choice about that.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     We need to learn to observe in a way that flexibility is natural and easy — like dancing.

“Self – Confidence” is a product of taking a stand for “‘who” we are and what we are committed to in life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       It isn’t about how we feel, our moods or what we think.