Competency is Not an Option

Has someone ever told you that they are not a detail person? I hear that excuse often. Dont get me wrong, I identify with non-detailers in many ways. I love abstract ideas and feel comfortable working with the vague concepts. You might say that I am not a detail person but I am detail competent. Leaders cannot afford to hide behind their strengths and avoid greater competency. 

I was part of a team working on a big project. We needed someone to take over an important part but the person I asked told me that they were not a detail person. It was not an exceptionally difficult assignment but it would require special focus on a number of tasks. They missed out on an opportunity to contribute and grow as a leader. This person was only willing to serve in an area of their core strength. They were just holding out for the right job, they were hiding from being a part of the team. Many of us are comfortable hiding behind our strengths.

You have probably been down the leadership journey far enough to know what you are good at. I bet that you have also discovered what you are not good at. Each of us have natural giftings for certain types of tasks. Tom Rath has published a wildly popular book called Strengths Finder 2.0. He argues that influencers should base their leadership out of their strengths instead of their weaknesses. In other words: find what you are good at and do it. I agree with Rath on this point but believe that finding what you are good at does not mean that you can completely avoid what you are bad at.

Few leaders are able to employ their strengths 24/7. You have to be willing to step out from behind your strengths and develop new skills. You cannot base a career out of gifting alone; some of it has to be hard work. You may need to learn how to be organized, study the characteristics of creativity, or watch some tutorials on time management. You can become a better leader by becoming competent. Just because you have strengths doesn’t mean that we can neglect life in the areas where we are weak.

Some of the greatest opportunities in my life have come as a result of broadening my competency. Am I gifted with numbers? No, but I can manage a budget. Do I see every detail when planing an event? No, but I can make sure that the most important things get done. I will not become excellent in every area of leadership but I will become respectable by working hard and steeping up to new challenges.

Do not fall into the trap that believes that competency is an option for you.

Your strengths may never see the light of day unless you become functional in your areas of weakness.

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