I have worked with some of the best leaders and they all have one thing in common – a desire to improve on the status quo. Always progressive in thought, these men and women have an insatiable desire to acquire more skills by learning and improvement. It might not be perceptible in their demeanour but there is an unmistakable sense of urgency in the way they approach their daily task in a global environment. Their restless curiosity drives them to inquire and ask questions.

These exemplary leaders are usually the proponents of theories by which they question and investigate potentially life-changing ideas and creations. It is a huge positive as this approach is critical to an organization’s growth and encourages an audacious drive that can add value on a global scale. However, it is pertinent not to ignore the bedrock of leadership basics while looking up to these leaders as role models. It should be taken into consideration that it is seemingly effortless for some of these leaders at the peak of their powers to adjust and soar to the top due to their ingrained belief in the principles of effective leadership.

Breaking the Rules

Just as in leadership, all truly great pioneers in the field of business, literature and the arts only “ignored” the rules after mastering them. Most of the leaders you would consider a role model had to patiently and painstakingly master their art, hone their skills in the basic principles of the operations of their field and present an almost infallible authority in their field after all the years of behind-the-scenes hard work.

It is vital that you understand the inflexible components of leadership – be it the tangible or intangible factors and events that unfold at an accelerating pace – in order to achieve remarkable personal and measurable growth in your field. Thus, all aspiring leaders must master the art of taking advantage of the principles of leadership that remain inflexible.

Defining Leadership Competence

In any important discourse on leadership, competence will almost certainly be raised as a vital component. Not a lot of attention is given to it, given its evident and essential nature. It certainly seems enigmatic. 

There are obvious questions and parameters on how we evaluate ourselves against this integral concept and the applicable indices such as work and financial rating, etc. The most important question, however, is, “what is the basic yardstick of measuring competence in leadership.” It has taken me 45yrs of research to arrive at the conclusion that as complex as it may sound and seem, competence is made up of three important factors which can be used in harmony and directly impact positively, on leadership.

My analysis on Leadership Competence:

  1.     Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) – This captures a leader’s logical ability in information analysis and subsequent choices. This skill is pivotal to information application by integrating quality reasoning with speed.
  2.     Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – EQ is measured by the ability to handle relationships by a leader while displaying empathy and reasoning. It is an invaluable skill for building trust and fostering a conducive environment for company growth.
  3.     Functional Intelligence (FQ) – This measures the capacity of a leader to encourage qualitative competence in their field. It is indispensable to grow this skill, as a lack of it might lead to negative consequences for leadership and relationship growth.

Applying the Structure

A close examination will show you are probably more skilled in one facet than in another. It is important to know that a combination of all three takes time and will improve with constant learning and practice.

A leader who does not possess the needed EQ in the area of their specialization might simply take advantage of either of their IQ or FQ (or both) to bring quality while they grow. Ultimately, nothing quite tops experience on the go and this is a learning curve that is often eventually a growth process for many exceptional leaders today. 

Success and improvement are not reliant on being strong in each part.

A good leadership experience or training (See here) can help evaluate your proficiency on these three facets and point out the areas that require additional improvements with this framework analysis. Just make sure to remain focused and dedicated to self-improvement and do not despair over the measure or capacity of your basic competence factors.  As long as you consistently work towards your goal, you will record a significant improvement in all three components of your competence.

It is my expectation that the above analysis of competence will provide you with insights that will support your efforts as you improve in the essentials of your leadership goals and defy the odds, rising to and above challenges and rules to record progress confidently.