Leadership Qualities: Competence.


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Photos courtesy of Rawpixel, Clark Young, Geoff Scott and Branko Stancevic on Unsplash.

Competent leaders obtain competent results through demonstrated skill, as well as motivating, energizing and inspiring their team to greatness.  

This was exhibited so well at the 2019 Grammy Awards which displayed some of the best known acts in contemporary music from across the world, including legends like Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, and Smokey Robinson, as well as relative new comers like Alicia Keys, Kacey Musgraves, H.E.R., Childish Gambino, Cardi B, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Drake, Ariana Grande and so much more (https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/grammys-2019-awards-show-nominees-winners-highlights-performances-red-carpet-today-live-updates/).  Jamaica cheered as Reggae was celebrated featuring Shaggy and Sting, Ziggy Marley, Etana, Black Uhuru and Protoje (https://jamaicans.com/grammy-nominations-2019-best-reggae-album/).  One can only say that the acts ranged from great to greater, with none being less than the other, and each showcasing the importance of competency in greatness.

Consider the following images for a moment: What’s the difference between a piano student and Alicia Keys comfortably playing two pianos at the 2019 Grammy Awards?  What’s the difference between you singing in the mirror with a hair brush as your microphone and Diana Ross being celebrated as a legend in the entertainment industry?

A friend of mine who is a senior manager in his office shared his challenges with his team members in the office as he has to often repeat himself as he guides them through objectives that they had made commitments to achieve.  Then he said that he discovered that when he went home, as a husband and a father to 3 sons, he experienced similar challenges as he and his wife guided their sons into becoming responsible men.  However, he wasn’t stumped.  He used the effective strategies that he had tested in the office with his own boys and discovered that they also worked.  He also gained insight from his wife as she shred vignettes with him from her devotional materials.


Photo courtesy of Quino Al on Unsplash.

As we celebrate Black History month, and we approach St. Valentine’s Day, we can learn much about competent leadership from this leader and his wife.  A more famous case of competency in love and leadership is demonstrated in the US Supreme Court decision in the case of Loving vs.  Virginia where the only crime was an interracial marriage (https://www.history.com/topics/civil-rights-movement/loving-v-virginia).  Mr. Chief justice Warren sums up the charge in the Court’s Opinion by stating,

“In June, 1958, two residents of Virginia, Mildred Jeter, a Negro woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were married in the District of Columbia pursuant to its laws. Shortly after their marriage, the Lovings returned to Virginia and established their marital abode in Caroline County.  At the October Term, 1958, of the Circuit Court… of Caroline County, a grand jury issued an indictment charging the Lovings with violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages. On January 6, 199, the Lovings pleaded guilty to the charge, and were sentenced to one year in jail; however, the trial judge suspended the sentence for a period of 25 years on the condition that the Lovings leave the State and not return to Virginia together for 25 years” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/388/1).  

However, Mildred would not be deterred from returning home, and so she wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in 1963, who referred it to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  They accepted and it took the competent leadership of the ACLU attorneys, Bernard Cohen and Philip Hirschkop, to lead them through the long 4 year battle that they fought to finally return to Virginia, married with their children – Sidney, Donald and Peggy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFKLg_G5R0k).

Because one competent leader was willing to listen, others followed and analyzed, thought, conceptualized and imagined a future where interracial marriage would be legal across the entire United States, the concurring Justice Stewart wrote,

“I have previously expressed the belief that “it is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our Constitution which makes the criminality of an act depend upon the race of the actor.” McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U.S. 184, 198 (concurring opinion). Because I adhere to that belief, I concur in the judgment of the Court” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/388/1).

Leaders who set themselves apart from the pack exhibit competence in significant ways as they find creative solutions to new problems.  Consider the following competencies in yourself and in the leaders you follow:

  • Analytical
  • Cognitive flexibility
  • Conceptualization
  • Critical thinking
  • Curiosity
  • Embracing different cultural perspectives
  • Foresight
  • Identifying patterns
  • Imaginative
  • Innovative
  • Listening to others’ ideas
  • Making abstract connections
  • Observation
  • Open-mindedness
  • Problem solving
  • Sound judgment
  • Synthesizing
  • Visionary (Doyle, 2019).

In sum, competent leaders continue to be open to trying nontraditional solutions to solve an otherwise unsolvable problem.   This will impress team members and inspire them to imagine more with their leader.

Today, many transformational leaders are needed to motivate, inspire, and energize their teams and be emotionally intelligent about the processes that work best.  So, we must deliberately cultivate good leadership qualities that causes our team to soar to greater heights of success.   Consider The Courage to Be Free and other offerings at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD and https://youtu.be/zfPWaPCJ0vE .

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