The Qualities Of Leadership 11-Being Competent

Poll number: 

Question-Week ending Sunday 11/16/03:

From our list, please choose one professional that you believe, has displayed the MOST COMPETENCE in leading to their success. Please read our Poll Commentary before taking this poll.

Pre-Poll Commentary:

One of Webster's definitions of COMPETENT is "having requisite or adequate ability or qualities." Using this definition, how might we choose individual leaders today, based on their competence to perform their job? For instance, does a CEO who spent the last 15 years of his or her career in the food industry, qualify for the CEO position in an unrelated industry such as the semi-conductor business? Or, does a former wrestler or movie star qualify for the top position of State Governor, making decisions that affect the fate of tens of millions of people? Who is REALLY competent today, to get their job done and produce the results expected by all relevant parties?

Of course it seems logical that the most "Qualified" individuals should be able to get the results we all expect. Unfortunately, this may not always the case. As an example, let's evaluate the success of educational leaders in the United States. These leaders in our public school systems and colleges have decades of experience as teachers and administrators and have earned single or multiple doctorate degrees. They administrate huge budgets and are responsible for hundreds or thousands of employees and students. Yet our educational system in many cases is inefficient and sometimes ineffective. The system is not always meeting the needs of potential employees or contemporary employers.

Baby Boomers who obtained reasonably priced educations, have watched the cost of educating their children rise at a rate of 8-10 times annual inflation in recent years. As costs have escalated out of control, many college graduates with $120,000 plus bachelor degrees, end up in a low paying service job just to survive. Has the educational system overpowered the competence of its leaders? Does having decades of experience and doctorate degrees make educational leaders more competent to lead than an actor who becomes governor with no prior political experience, but knows how to accomplish goals?

Let's take one more look at the role of competence, as related to being a leader in a particular field. How far would Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson or Tom Hanks have gone, without being highly competent? They developed skills that qualified them to compete and succeed at the highest level. Doesn't appear logical to consider these three as very competent to perform in their jobs?

So what role do you think competence plays in leadership and success? Like all of our polls, we want to get our participants thinking. We are not out to bash educators since we know how totally committed most of them are to their craft and we know that there are numerous success stories.

Let us know what you think in this week's poll relating to competence. This poll will end on Sunday 11/16/03, when the results will be displayed.

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  1. 41% of voters chose Tom Hanks as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list
  2. 33% of voters chose Tiger Woods as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list
  3. 15% of voters chose Venus Williams as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list
  4. 05% of voters chose Kelly Ripa as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list
  5. 04% of voters chose Britney Spears as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list
  6. 02% of voters chose Michael Jackson as the MOST COMPETENT Professional on our list

Post-Poll Commentary:

The results of our poll had Tom Hanks in the lead all week long. He was followed by Tiger Woods and Venus Williams. I think we could agree that all the indivuals on our list were competent, but some were more so than others. That's exactly how it is in life.

Take a sales force of 100 individuals who work for the same company, selling the same exact products to the same type of clients. The top selling salesperson probably sells 4 to 8 times or more what the bottom salesperson sells. Does that top person work 4-8 times as many hours as the bottom salesperson? That would be almost impossible to do. However, there's probably a strikingly different competence level between the two. Over time, the top salesperson probably developed his or her own system for success and executes their system flawlessly. They get extraordinary results for their efforts. That's what being competent is all about.

Don't ever settle for mediocrity. Strive to be the best you can. Develop the systems and mindset of the top leaders in your field and you'll become on of them yourself. Good luck!