Technical Competency

Leadership: Competency

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership

It is our responsibility as leaders to make sure our employees have the tools and training to accomplish the tasks we set for them. Sometimes, if we have come up through the ranks, we believe that it’s faster if we just “do it.” That’s a critical mistake. We quickly become the bottleneck in the organization and we develop followers instead of people who think for themselves. We cannot scale our operations for continual growth if we are the only person making decisions and being “hands on” with the projects.

It is getting to be more and more difficult for leaders to know in detail what we need to know in order to give detailed directions. The good news is, that this forces us to hire people who know more about task specifics than we do and then help them do them by staying out of the details. We have no choice but to learn how to lead knowledge workers. The bad news is that we need highly trained people who can work with all the new technologies and “intelligent machines.”

The tools of the trade when I started my career were things like slide rules and manual calculations. We wrote computer programs on a card punch form, a keypunch operator created the cards and someone behind the glass wall ran the program. And look, it wasn’t all THAT long ago! Now, of course, I have at my office workstation more computing and storage power than the whole water and air cooled computer center in my first engineering job. Workstation

The young folks we’re hiring today are “digital natives.” The use of technology is second nature to them. They are always connected. That is the world we are creating and it means that leaders must become comfortable with developing leaders not followers. We must have employees who can think for themselves, take initiative and work remotely. And it means we have an obligation to make sure they are staying competent. We have to make sure we continue to learn in order to maintain our own competency – in leadership skills.

The jobs of the future belong to those who are comfortable working side-by-side with intelligent machines. There will be fewer and fewer jobs available and those that are will not be recognized by those who held them in the past. There are no jobs which will not be transformed in one way or another by the improvements and advancements in technology. Medicine, Engineering, Science, Education, Manufacturing . . . you name it and it has and will be changed by technological advances.

So the question is: “Are you prepared? What are you doing to ensure the competency of your company and your employees? What are you doing to transform your own career and competencies?”