Five Crucial Competencies of Self-Management

Five Crucial Competencies of Self-Management

By Doug Kirkpatrick

While there are many competencies that enable effective self-management (excellent communication skills, solid teamwork, good judgment), there are many other, less obvious competencies that impact one’s ability to navigate and perform at a high level in a self-managed ecosystem.  Here are five candidates for consideration.

1) Taking Initiative.  This characteristic is expressly called for in the Morning Star Colleague Principles.  It’s very hard to deliver constructive feedback to colleagues or cause positive change in processes without a willingness to take the initiative to do so.  Taking initiative includes the willingness and ability to speak up when necessary.

2) Tolerance for Ambiguity.  Self-management can be messy as new colleagues meet new people, engage with new processes, and learn a new way of working.  Negotiating a Colleague Letter of Understanding (CLOU) that clearly communicates one’s mission, process stewardships and performance metrics with affected stakeholders takes time and effort.  Choices must be made regarding what requests to make of other colleagues and the timing and scope of those requests.  Self-management is never as clear-cut as just going up to the boss with a comment or complaint.

3) Consciousness.  It takes real effort to locate the energy needed to pursue one’s personal commercial mission consistently, every day.  It is akin to the energy that entrepreneurs use to create entirely new enterprises out of ideas.  Consciousness gives rise to awareness and presence, and is the source of confidence in one’s ability to get things done—even in the face of adversity.  Awareness goes right to the heart of the Morning Star Colleague Principles—understanding one’s Rings of Responsibility requires a clear scope of awareness, especially in the primary ring.

4) Contribution Mindset.  Peter Drucker talked about a contribution mindset in his 1966 book, The Effective Executive.  A half-century later, that mindset applies to everyone who wants to be an effective self-manager in a self-managed enterprise.  This competency is referenced in the Morning Star Colleague Principles, which create an affirmative obligation for individuals to share relevant information with colleagues even when not expressly requested.

5) Low Power Distance Sensitivity.  Power distance refers to the concept of deferring to individuals perceived to have more power than oneself. In a self-managed environment (where collaboration is highly valued), there is an unofficial hierarchy of credibility, which springs from experience, trust, communication, and a host of other factors. This is not the same thing as a hierarchy of power based on command authority or control of others.  Effective self-managers will find ways to express themselves to anyone in the organization, and will listen to anyone and everyone who wishes to talk with them. To cut off colleagues based on perceived status is to cut off information, the lifeblood of a self-managed organization. Communication is everything.

What other competencies does effective self-management require?