Is Your Team Fit for the Future?

Monday, 19. November 2018

Is Your Team Fit for the Future? Securing competitive
advantage by means of competence-oriented leadership

A guest article by Christiana Scholz

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” (Charles Darwin)

To produce innovations on a regular basis has become absolutely essential for most enterprises, so they can strive on the market or even survive. Future-oriented organizations therefore need staff who react to special customer demands the quickest possible way as well as on their own responsibility and is able to act foresightfully and creatively, i. e. competently.

Market requirements, enterprise environments and society keep changing at an increasingly fast pace. This means that new challenges emerge every single day. Organizations and with them also the management teams, who want to be up front in the future, too, should prepare for an uncertain future. Because nothing is as safe as change, and in an increasingly agile world leadership will become an increasingly difficult balancing act. 

Competence-orientation in Leadership is what Matters!

Daumen hoch webEven though today we don’t know, yet, into which direction our future might develop, we can rest assured that the current pace of change won’t be as slow as it is today. In order to support employees the best possible way, new, innovative approaches in the field of human resources development and a competence-oriented type of leadership are required. Leaders need to overlook the competences needed to reach the enterprise’s goals and to know the set of competences their employees have.

At the same time, they themselves need leadership competences enabling them to leverage and thereby appreciate the competences their teams have and to identify and close any competence gaps in a goal-oriented way. An equally important leadership challenge is to create ideal frame conditions for flexibility with regard to work flows and learning processes and to offer orientation.

Leaders keep in touch with their employees, make agreements about development goals and reflect the progress of learning and development with them regularly and on demand. Thus, employees know their own development potentials and requirements and manage them on their own responsibility and the most self-organized way possible. By strengthening the self-responsibility of employees, customer demands can be identified more easily and innovations can be created to meet requirements more exactly.

Success Requires Setting Goals

Dartscheibe webEnterprises following a shotgun approach and driving development mainly with the help of thick seminar catalogs don’t have any measurable goals in terms of corporate strategy to be reached within a certain span of time. What counts here probably is: the number of persons taking part in trainings every year, number of training days and adhering to the budget. Those figures are important and can be displayed well in the form of charts. The developmental success desired, however, cannot be verified like that. Because when it comes to employee development, too, you can only talk about success if development goals are reached. The only requirement for this is of course having defined them before.

However, only during the execution of work processes will it show if competence goals have been reached. Competence is assessed and measured by monitoring the behavior during the process of work for example by leaders, but also by work-based interviews about competences and by competence diagnostics. In a sense of educational controlling, success in developing competences can be assessed by means of before/after competence diagnostics and therewith proven transparently.

In turn, this transparency is the basis for recruiting, human resources development, career and talent management up to performance management and the compensation & benefit area. Therefore, competence management, diagnostics and development are becoming a more and more appreciated instrument of leadership.

Five Parameters for Success in Competence-oriented Leadership

The following five success parameters for establishing and sustainably practicing a competence-oriented style of leadership can only be effective when harmonized.

        • 1. The according management mindset is key!

          The most important requirement of all undertakings in the direction of competence-oriented leadership is to fundamentally understand that it is what is required in order to face future challenges on the increasingly competitive markets. The top-level management has to understand this just as any other hierarchic level. If you want to pioneer in bringing on “competence orientation” into your business, it’s essential to take like-minded people and important opinion leaders on board and to map the according benefits for each target group in a comprehensible way. This is hardly possible to do on your own.

        • 2. Professional Set-up of a Strategic Competence Management

          You don’t need to set up a time-consuming project for the implementation of strategic competence management. However, competence-oriented leadership needs a professionally set up competence management system in line with the corporate strategy as a constitutive basis. Since it is important to know what the enterprise needs in terms of competitiveness today and in the future and what it will rsp. has to require from its employees. 

        • 3. Analysis of the Status Quo and Definition of Competence Goals
          Leaders need to overlook the competences needed to reach the enterprise’s goals and to know the set of competences their employees have. Concrete and individual competence development goals can be deducted from this and agreed upon bindingly. This is exactly the approach of competence-oriented leadership.

        • 4. Feedback & Reflection: Talking with Employees
          Competence development takes place exclusively in factual situations and within a social environment. Trying out and experience are absolutely necessary for developing competences. For this reason, leeway within work processes that foster learning has to be created. Regular feedback based on this and targeted reflective work are powerful tools in the process of developing competences, and this is exactly what competence-oriented leadership consists in. 
        • 5. Taking Competence Development into One’s Own Hand

          “Preaching water while drinking wine” - A no go! Competence-oriented leaders, who care about the competence development of their employees and deploy them according to their competences, should also work on their own competence development and listen to feedback and criticism by their employees. This does not only foster the development of competences but also makes them appear authentic. 

About the Author

Christiana Scholz webChristina Scholz is a corporate consultant for strategic competence management and innovative corporate learning concepts. She is a licensed KODE®- and KODE®X consultant and trainer in the field of competence diagnostics and development. This makes her the ideal person to turn to with regard to a competence-oriented approach to human resources development. Besides, she also is a teacher rsp. tutor and e-tutor at the Danube University Krems, at the University of Applied Sciences Vienna and the Chamber of Commerce Vienna as well as a trainer in the private sector, a speaker and an author. Find out more at or via mail to