Think about great leaders you have had the opportunity to work for. Take it up a notch - think of the truly inspiring leaders and name the qualities that made them great. The list is likely to include words like passion, vision, courage, integrity, humility, wisdom, risk-taking and authentic.
The list will likely not have included 'competent'. Being good at what you do is table stakes. Being competent gets you the job and has no relation to you being an inspiring leader capable of getting the best of the collective energy of your team. Being able to lead though periods of volatility, uncertainty and change needs something far greater than just competence.
Let's be very clear that leadership effectiveness matters. Research from Zenger & Folkman, and Anderson & Adams show that leadership effectiveness is a primary contributor to business performance. Anderson & Adams show a clear link between businesses performing in the top quartile and high scores of the effectives of their leaders.
And yet most leadership development assessments and programmes focus on capabilities. Also known as the outer game, the programmes underline the importance of the science of leadership, management processes and competency research.
This is important but not sufficient to develop great leaders.
What is largely left ignored is the inner game. The inner game is made up our values and beliefs, our self-awareness, how we make meaning of the world, how we make decisions, and our internal assumptions about who we are and how the world operates.
Countless times, I've been asked by senior people for tips and tricks to sort out a challenge they face. Tips and tricks work for the outer game. They have zero impact on the inner game.
We can assume that the outer game of competencies is the only game. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Without work on the inner game, little change will happen in the outer game. The maturity of the inner game impacts the outer game.
The establishment view used to be that we stopped developing as we entered adulthood. This view has been overturned. The good news is we can carry on developing ourselves as long we choose. Should we have the courage to do so, we can go on a life-long journey of developing ourselves.
Ask yourself, how does your leadership effectiveness compare with the competition? Is your leadership a competitive advantage or disadvantage?
You most likely have the competence to be in the role you are in. What work are you doing on your inner game? The responsibility is with you to balance out the equation.