I am, as I’ve said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary.” ~ Billy Joel

For the past quarter, I’ve assigned each month a theme to frame my work. My  themes for the second quarter:

April = Disruption — Noting how our “normal” activity was interrupted and that innovation can stem from that interruption.

May = Mindset — Describing how WE control our response to disruption, and how our response can align with our purpose.

June = Clarity — How agility is critical as we began to emerge from quarantine; and how the qualities of valuing problem-solving over experience, and honing social and empathy skills were key to that agility.

I’m continuing this monthly theme concept; kicking off the third quarter,  July’s theme is competence.

Competence is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. 

Interestingly, pre-pandemic, competence looked very different from our current disruptive state. 

Pre-pandemic, competence was easily recognized and measured. A competent person had academic degrees, certifications, and subject matter expertise. They proceeded to solve well-defined problems with accepted processes — navigating tame problems. 

But now — the truth always follows the “but” — but now, that has changed. 

These days competence is more about framing issues for decision-makers to act, than it is about subject matter expertise. Wayfinding is a key tool for today’s competence. 

In these disruptive times, decision-makers need guidance on how to move forward. Like many folks, they’re overwhelmed and stymied by wicked problems — problems that appear difficult to name and impossible to solve.

People are grieving for past practices and routines. Because we can’t fully understand how the future will unfold, we need to frame the real problems requiring immediate attention in ways that decision-makers can act and move forward. 

Fortune favors those who can rise above the turmoil and help chart a new course. 

Post-pandemic competency involves framing issues for the people who matter (bosses, hiring managers, clients and customers) so they can see a path forward.

Here’s some examples of recent clients who exhibit the “new competence:”

  • The higher education mid-level leader who transformed a key program for incoming students, in the face of complete disruption, to ensure their advising and registration needs were met.
  • The airport planning consultant who envisions the critical elements in airports that need to be addressed for a new system of safe and effective air travel.
  • The entrepreneurial media leader who re-engineered existing programs into new platforms that generated new revenues. 

These folks are able to seamlessly operate in disruptive times. They not only see new ways of doing existing things, they build coalitions and collaborate with others to operationalize them. They don’t let their own ego get in the way. In this manner, not only are they the epitome of the new competence, they’re extraordinary.

How are you extraordinary in these days of disruption?

Email me at and let me know how your competence is moving you and your team forward.

A version of this post was recently sent to my email newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to get my best work first, subscribe to the newsletter. I NEVER share your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time if it’s not a good fit.

If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

Image copyright : Ian Iankovskii