The four stages of competence

  1. Unconscious incompetence – the individual does not understand/know how to do something and does not necessarily identify this as a gap in their knowledge or skillset. Before trying to resolve this, the individual should accept that it is an incompetence that needs to be remedied.
  2. Conscious incompetence – although the individual may not understand/know how to do something, they have recognised that there is a gap in their skillset. It will require strength and patience, plus motivation to start the process by making mistakes when carrying out tasks as this will lead to the necessary learning process to remedy the incompetence.
  3. Conscious competence – the individual understands/knows how to do something, but cannot exercise the task without major effort or focus. In other words, they still follow guidelines or “manuals” in order to execute this skill.
  4. Unconscious competence – due to the fact that the individual had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and they can perform it “standing on their head”, it is a new skill that they are so confident with they can even pass it on to others.

So – during all those years of being an executive, running departments or businesses, creating new things or firefighting issues that had been lumped in my lap, I now realise that I have often applied techniques sub– or unconsciously and actually got the desired result.

I even applied models and frameworks that I had never been taught, albeit knew their names, only to find out now, during my studies, that they exist, some famous people usually lent their names to them and that they are apparently part of “the good leader’s/manager’s armoury”….

The trick is now to find out my blind spots – carefully weighing up self-perception versus third-party perception. Which skills do I think need improving and which skills do others reckon I need to improve?

The cross-section should be interesting….

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