I knew I was in over my head. I had signed up for a major task and it was out of my areas of expertise. It had been an area of interest twenty years earlier, but since then, I had done little work in that area. Still, I signed up for a major responsibility and now I (and the others who were depending on me) were experiencing the repercussions. To be honest, I was probably able to navigate my way through this responsibility without them really knowing how inadequate I felt.
Charlie Munger is an investment partner with Warren Buffet and he talks about the circle of competence and how important it is that you stick close to that circle.
It takes a long time to get really good (competence, fluent, expert) at something. When you move to these levels of substantial ability, you generate good results. This is part of the reason why the Pareto Principle is true. You generate 80% of your results from 20% of your time, but most likely, that 20% is when you are working in your Circle of Competence.
"I'm no genius. I'm smart in spots, and I stay around those spots."
It is an illusion to think you can be equally good at other things at which you have not worked to become highly competent.
So your first need is to know what you are really competent at doing.
Then, have a plan to add competencies, or, expand your circle of competency.
So, get out a piece of paper, or your journal and draw a circle. This is your Circle of Competency. Make it large enough (bigger than what is pictured) so you can write some things in it. Write down a half dozen or so areas of expertise, area of interest, specialities, etc. This is the stuff of high or reasonably high competency. When you work from within this circle you tend to see good results.
Of course the Strengths Finder 2.0 is a very helpful tool for you to understand and name your strengths and competencies.
Now, add another circle around that (smaller than what is pictured). And write down a few other things that are potential competencies. If you give some time and focused attention to develop yourself in these, you could expand your Circle of Competency.
Now, as you consider your Circle and your potential Circle - what is your plan to work out of that circle and to grow it?
(Thanks to The Idea Hunter for this theme.)
Both Peter Senge and Peter Drucker are lead promoters of these concepts.
Senge talks about the "personal mastery" that comes from those who live in a continual state of learning. Learning must be a life long discipline for leaders.
Drucker, the forerunner of the StrengthsFinder core concepts encouraged leaders to always be learning more in their areas of core competency. If you are good, seek to become very good... and then expert... and even superb and outstanding. Then, continue to investigate new areas of learning and development (the second circle).
This "inner work of leadership learning" makes the external work of leadership activity fruitful and faithful.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International