Competencies for corporate performance


By Jonah Nyoni 

THE 21st century is driven mainly by the ability to use core or critical competencies to stay competitive in the face of complexity, change and competition. Indubitably, all great organisations especially the technology-driven ones have proved beyond reasonable doubt that it’s no longer business as usual. In fact, it’s no longer skills and qualifications alone that are needed, but there has to be more; there is a need for cut-thought leadership. The writer has been privileged to have extensively researched the subject of leadership and personal competencies. Additionally, he has interviewed a number of experts on the subject. This paper delves into those competencies that are needed for the effectiveness of an organisation and how these competencies can be developed in individuals. Daniel Golemen (1998), who has written widely on emotional intelligence classifies these competencies into two, namely personal competencies and social competencies. Personal competencies define the inner rudder that determines individual paradigm (Proctor, 2020), mental models (Peter Senge, 2014), agility and emotional intelligence (Travis Bradbery, 2017). Goleman says personal competencies include self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. These three layers build up sub-strata such as emotional awareness, self-assertiveness or confidence, accurate assessment, adaptability, innovation, adeptness, self-control, self conscientiousness, commitment, optimism, determination, and drive.

Soft skills

Social competencies are building upon empathy and social skills. These are further sub-divided into issues such as team capabilities, leadership, developing and understating others, communication and conflict management. All these competencies can be developed. Some people are born with some of those traits which need to be developed and cultivated over time.

Hard skills

The above can be grouped into what has been termed soft skills. The other competencies are classified under hard skills. These are actions such as SWOT analysis tool; budgeting, setting programmes, procedures and processes, training and development, motivation, good leadership and control.  These must be exhibited by managers and co-managers in the execution of a strategy.

Strategy processes

According to Richard Rumelt (2011), the strategy process includes diagnosis, policy formulation and implementation. That three-tier process needs hard skills.   These actions also enable an organisation to cultivate a potential competitive advantage. A sound competitive advantage gives an organisation power to outwit rivals and enjoy market leadership and a bigger market share. Failure to display these actions may lead an organisation to fail and it can be easily booted out of business by rivals.

Systematic competencies

According to Admad S and Schroeder R (2013), competencies are internal activities that make a company perform better than other internal activities. Core competencies are well-performed internal activities that are central to a company’s strategy, competitiveness, professionalism, proficiency and profitability. On the other side, a distinctive competence is a competitively valuable activity or action that makes a company perform better than its rivals. Examples of core competencies include:

Skills in manufacturing a high-quality product.

System to fill customer orders accurately and swiftly. Better after-sale service capability,

Superior know-how in selecting good retail locations. Innovativeness in developing popular product features.

Expertise is important in technology.

Eye for detail

The other competency is the ability to scan the environment. In my interview with Busisa Moyo (CEO at the United Refineries Limited) he said this is the ‘eye for detail’. In another interview, Linda Ntuli (author and speaker) said it is the ability to eye the next bounce of the ball. When the external environment is subject to rapid change, internal resources and capabilities offer a more secure basis for strategy development and execution. Resources and capabilities are the primary sources of profitability. Therefore, they should be determined before the execution of a strategy. Environment scanning is an eye-opener that assists managers on strategic moves an organisation should adopt to have a strategic fit. Environmental scanning also helps to see who the competitors are. This is also called the competitive analysis or Porter Five Forces.

Parting Point: Competencies are what the firm employs to transfer or convert inputs into outputs. Managers in an organisation should display environmental analytical actions so as to determine the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) position of an organisation. Actions such as the capability to combine tangible and intangible resources, using organisational processes to attain the desired end. For example, outstanding customer service, excellent product development capabilities, innovations of product and service should be done by managers and co-managers as this spearheads the accomplishment of organisational expectations.  Tools such as the SWOT analysis are used by managers or co-managers to look for potential resource strengths which can drive an organisation towards success, potential resource weaknesses which must be eliminated since it acts as a drawback in achieving a competitive advantage for an organisation, potential company opportunities, which can be exploited by an organisation to achieve success in all its endeavors. Lastly, potential external threats need to be identified because they act as drawbacks in achieving organisational objectives. Next week I will bring part two of this article.