Friday, August 24, 2012

Strong Leadership Makes Core Competencies Work

Daniel Rasmus posted an intriguing article on Fast Company, "How Clinging To Core Competencies Is Breaking Your Organization’s Heart."
The focus on an "organization's heart" and its "emotional infrastructure" is good but an emphasis on core competencies does not break that "organization's heart."  Instead, a lack of leadership will do that.

A leader's two most important qualities are authenticity ("Walk the talk") & credibility ("Do the do" / be competent).  If leaders profess to care about their employees but don't back that up via their actions, that's what breaks hearts.  If leaders don't know how to take care of their employees, that breaks hearts.

Likewise, strong leadership makes core competencies work, not just by leveraging knowledge and skills but by inspiring people to understand, see, and believe in the impact of their work.  Per Daniel's post, "passion and dedication creates value as much as seamless execution."

A focus on core competencies does not necessarily result in organizations "becom[ing] less able to adapt." A core competency's value should be evaluated not just on its execution but also its market value.  Assessing its market value should be driven by two questions:  1) Does it resonate with customers?  2) Are there market changes that can impact this competency?

If the answer to the second question is yes, then possible adaptation and change issues should be addressed.  Successful adaptation cannot be accomplished without knowing what to adapt to and how to to adapt.  This requires knowledge and learning.  Speaking of core competencies, learning to adapt one of the new ones.  This is a leader imperative and responsibility - especially now given the increasing speed and frequency of changes in market dynamics.

Daniel's point that "emotional infrastructure is the binding element that keeps an organization together in times of challenge, and facilitates celebration in times of plenty" is excellent.  An organization's "emotional infrastructure" can either enable or degrade its performance.  It also doesn't happen by itself.  Leaders create that infrastructure - for better or worse.

Marketing differentiating core competencies supported by a positive emotional infrastructure creates a compelling value proposition. 
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