Set a timer for 2 minutes. In that two minutes list your competencies.
First, here’s a reminder of what “competent” is:
Competent – having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully.
Set the timer for 2 minutes…no distraction…don’t stop focusing on this until the timer goes off. Ready…go!
How did you do?
What does your list say?
Did you get stuck?
Did it come easily?
Was 2 minutes too long or not enough time?
Naming your competence is an incredibly important exercise for every professional. Most work places want you to be competent and have confidence in yourself. It is the most immediate reflection of the business. Every one of us has competence in something(s) and it is vital to be personally accountable for naming your competencies.
What is your answer when someone asks you, “What are your competencies?” Too often the answer to the question “What are your competencies?” only comes when we scour a job description or performance evaluation for what the competencies are supposed to be. That’s fine, but beginning with what your competencies ARE will put you ahead every time because that confidence will come through. It’s not arrogance or ego it’s competence. If you don’t lead with your competence you come across as “Well, I can always get better at…” and you bury the lead! That “aw shucks” stuff helps no one, least of all you. I really appreciate competent people, don’t you?
Once you have listed what you are competent at and know where you are most confident, you can make the other list that we seem to gravitate to more easily. That list is what competencies you need to gain or improve. Keep that list to no more than three.
Self-confidence and competence go hand-in-hand. I am currently learning to sail. I have zero confidence and spend most of the time terrified when my teacher points at me and says “Linda, you are the helmsman.” At the same time, his patience with my lack of competence in that role creates an environment of learning so I can build competence. I’ve had teachers that are not so patient, grab things right out of my hands when there is no imminent danger of anything except doing it wrong or not the way they would. I don’t learn, I shut down and my confidence goes in the toilet. Those bad experiences have taught me a lot about getting the best from those I teach and how to grow their competence and confidence at the same time.
I love to ask people what they are most competent in. I don’t ask in a confronting way, I am really interested. Some respond with a “deer in headlights” look, others say “I’ve never thought about it but I can tell you what I am pretty good at,” and still others get right to it. “I am a competent _______________.” It’s refreshing when someone names her or his competence. Try it.
It’s important to repeat that it is not arrogant or ego to be able to name your competence. It is accountable. I am totally personally accountable for my success at work. That means I own, act on and answer for what I am good at, competent in, and here to do. What are you owning, acting on, and answering for? What are you good at and competent in?
I won’t make you shout it from the rooftops but I’d kind of like you to. As an executive coach I see far too much “not good enough, not there yet, not perfect” thinking. It buries the talent right in front of us. It’s important to get out of “I’ll show you my competence if you show me yours” and get into “I’ll demonstrate my competence and ask you to demonstrate yours.” Hiding competence costs an organization huge money, time and resources. Every time I have had a group or team disclose their list after the exercise this post started with, jaws drop. “I didn’t know that about you! We can really use you on this project while Dave can shift to this that he is competent in and loves to do.” The scales fall from people’s eyes we are so much more than what we reveal. There are vast pockets of competence going unutilized. A work culture that asks people to “put their competence out there” builds confidence. It’s tricky but real leaders know how to tease this out and build confidence.
We all want to be a part of something great. There is a strong possibility that “something great” is YOU. Be accountable. Own, act on, and answer for your amazing self.