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How do you balance technical competency development with leadership competency development?

(Question posted by participants in recent webinars)

In our experience, competence in a role, no matter how technical, is often characterized by leadership and soft skills.  That is, achieving the minimum level of proficiency may be mostly technical, but higher levels of proficiency require “more”. 

Here’s an example.  The role is an engineer.  One of the skills in which an engineer needs to have proficiency is troubleshooting product issues.  At the target level of proficiency, that requires defining the problem, using problem solving tools, and fixing the issue.  At higher levels of proficiency, the engineer is frequently engaged by others for support, they coach and mentor others, and they are enlisted to participate in teams for systemic issues.  They also capture and share best practices and lessons learned, monitor the industry/their field for new approaches, and find innovative ways to troubleshoot more quickly.  They utilize systems thinking – understanding the impact of the issue on the organization and enlisting the support of those affected when needed to create more holistic and innovative solutions. 

We favor incorporating leadership and soft skills into the behavioral examples of technical skills because it helps those in the role to understand the connection.  You may also have a few leadership or other or soft skills independently as part of your model as well.  If you develop your competencies with the use of high performers, include the question, “What separates how you do this from how others do it?” and you will naturally identify the blend of behaviors into each technical skill.  

 

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