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The Three Cs, Part III – Technical Competence

By Chuck Violand

December 17, 2018

As explained in Part III of this series, an owner’s Competence can be divided into two broad categories: Emotional Competence and Technical Competence.

Emotional Competence includes a person’s emotional stability to run a business, the personal behaviors they bring to their jobs, and their personal values and character.

Technical Competence, on the other hand, deals with an owner’s grasp of the technical elements of the business and the demands of his specific position within it. Just as with an owner’s Emotional Competence, the Technical Competence required to drive a successful business changes dramatically as the business grows.

In the early years, Technical Competence frequently involves performing just about all the tasks needed to run the business. And while Technical Competence includes understanding and delivering the company’s services or building the products the company produces, these are never the only technical factors to consider. Technical Competence also includes collecting and managing the company’s money; managing the books; selling the company’s products and services; and, ultimately, hiring additional people.

As the company grows beyond the survival or owner-centric phase the Technical Competencies grow as well. Once other people are involved in the business, Technical Competence extends to the skills needed to manage them. Skills like communication and the ability to delegate make the list, as do planning, scheduling, and following through on the things we say we’re going to do.

While these might seem like baseline skills to some, the business will never grow beyond its dependence on the owner if they’re ignored. And this dependence will limit the size of the company by restricting it to those things the owner can control himself.

When the business grows beyond its frontline workers and adds managers or additional locations, Technical Competence expands to include the owner’s ability to think strategically—to see beyond this week or the next payroll and look over the horizon to identify opportunities the company can capitalize on. It’s also the ability to identify threats, internally and externally, that can compromise the company’s long-term success.

Technical Competence includes establishing the direction of the company through a strategic plan, and then communicating that plan to the rest of the company—or at least to the parties involved in executing it.
It takes Technical Competence to understand metrics and KPIs to track the company’s performance and to ensure its continued profitability. This extends to things like the adoption and use of electronic technology, and digital and social media.

The good news is that most of the Competence challenges facing an owner, both Emotional and Technical, can be corrected or improved. While the subject of just how much our IQ can be changed over our lifetime is open to debate, our Emotional Competence and much of our Technical Competence can be significantly improved through intentional development. And since the link between these competencies and the company’s financial performance is well documented, it’s well worth the effort.