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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

November - 2007 - issue > People Manager

Competence and Character: Two facets of the trusted manager

C. Mahalingam
Thursday, November 1, 2007
C. Mahalingam
I was facilitating a workshop on leadership for a group of 30 plus managers from different organizations. It was intense and insightful. I threw a question at the audience and asked them to list qualities they admired most in their managers. Not surprisingly, many admirable qualities were mentioned ranging from charisma, energy, intelligence, grasp, simplicity, honesty, knowledge, empathy, listening, decisiveness, open-mindedness, fairness, sense of humor, can-do attitude, forgiveness, vision, far-sightedness, clarity of thinking, level-headedness to caring for others, helping nature, self-confidence, affability, and being a role model and the like filled out the white board and flip charts.

Then I moved on to the next question and asked the participants to think through and mention just two attributes that would make their managers a very trusted manager and colleague. We found that it was not an easy exercise. Participants had to consider two factors in responding: (a) only two attributes to describe and (b) these attributes will qualify the manager as a very trusted one.

Two sides of the same coin called ‘trust’
Guess what happened? After a bit of writing, rewriting, and overwriting the attributes, the entire class room reached a consensus of sorts and the two attributes that finally made the grade were ‘competence’ and ‘character.’ This was not surprising since most of us implicitly know what we look for in our managers before we trust them and are willing to follow them. Leadership in organizations is exercised by everyone, and more importantly by those that have people management responsibilities. And their success at this directly depends on building both their competence and character.

Organizations provide many structured and unstructured opportunities for building skills and competence. Even otherwise, career-resilient individuals spend considerable time and effort learning and updating on knowledge and skills appropriate for the time and their roles. Learning on the job also significantly adds to building competence.

Character building takes a backseat

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