5 Personal Core Competencies for the Real Business World

Last Updated Aug 20, 2009 11:45 AM EDT

5 Personal Core Competencies for the 21st Century demonstrates what I've known for years: that some business school academics live in their own world, and that world bears little resemblance to the real business world.

Harvard Graduate School of Education professor Helen Haste identifies these five competencies for the new millennium:

  1. Managing Ambiguity
  2. Agency and Responsibility
  3. Finding and Sustaining Community
  4. Managing Emotion
  5. Managing Technological Change
I don't even have a clue what half this stuff means, and I've spent most of my career as a senior executive and consultant in Silicon Valley - where business is supposed to be more than a little progressive.
Some of the comments were priceless:
As a retired corporate executive, now professor, I ask myself why so much rubbish is coming out of Harvard. They are either restating what is generally known with their unique jargon or they are espousing their ideas about management in the real world when they don't have the hands-on experience as a manager in the real world. This is like letting a biology teacher advise medical surgery.

- totefrosch

" -- what a load of pseudo-intellectual twaddle -- what does "Managing ambiguity is that tension between rushing to the clear, the concrete, and managing this ambiguous fuzzy area in the middle." actually mean? The last time I read something like that was in a confused post-modernist tract. It is meaningless.

- Lampoon

If, however, you're interested in a "real business world" version of this, here's an excerpt from a post I did six months ago which I will now rename 5 Personal Core Competencies for the Real Business World (I changed "qualities" to "core competencies" so the Harvard Business School folks could understand it):
  1. Flexibility. Willingness to change direction, do what it takes, let go of personal agenda, and swallow pride, all for the greater good and the overall health of the business.
  2. Honesty. Courage to look people - especially customers and authority figures - straight in the eye and tell them the genuine truth, regardless of consequences.
  3. Leadership. This is not as complex or subjective as you might think. Leadership is the ability to encourage people to follow you, especially when they don't have to.
  4. Accountability. Willingness to take responsibility, own a problem, and be held accountable over the long haul, regardless of the risk.
  5. Intelligence. Anybody who denies this is full of it. Everything else can be learned, but not this. Forget old notions of book smart versus street smart. You have to be both.
These are the traits senior executives really look for in up-and-comers. You can read the full text version of my original post 5 Qualities for Climbing the Corporate Ladder here.