We live in a world and time when arguably almost anyone can become an expert or authority in some area of practice or knowledge. The world abounds with books, seminars, webinars, courses, workshops, videos, audios, and websites on personal and professional development. Opportunities to develop professional competencies and become an expert or authority in one’s domain have never been more readily accessible in the history of the world. And yet, there is no denying, there is a shortage of competent and experienced workers in the workplace, especially managers.

For nearly three decades, I have been an advocate for personal and professional growth to establish professional competency. For almost as long, I have pursued becoming an expert and authority in my focused area of practice within the field of management. Throughout my career, I have encouraged others around me to seek opportunities for personal and professional growth to establish professional competency and improve their value and position in the workplace.  I have also encouraged others to seek opportunities to become experts and authorities in their areas of practice.

Why should you want to establish greater professional competence?

Three reasons:

1. Greater managerial competency increases your expert power. Like any other ranking system, the more professional competencies you demonstrate, the more likely people will view you as an expert or authority in your area of practice within the field of management. The greater the competencies you possess, the more you will become the “go to person.” Your expert power comes from your capacity to demonstrate professional competencies, which are based on your knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and experiences. Therefore, in a world that ranks everything, it is important for you to establish and continually increase and improve your professional competencies.

2. Greater managerial competencies extend your influence. As a manager, your professional competencies are the basis for your level of influence in the workplace.  Trust and respect are central to influence.  You gain trust and respect of others when you demonstrate your managerial competencies while effectively and efficiently managing different situations. As such, the greater your managerial competencies, the higher likelihood you will be sought out to provide solutions and input on organizational matters.  Greater managerial competencies will increase your likelihood of becoming a central node in your social network and provide you with greater influence.

3. Greater managerial competencies open the door to more opportunities and can lead to promotions. You are likely reading this article for one of three reasons: you are curious, you are interested in establishing your professional competency, or you are interested in becoming an expert or authority in your domain. Or maybe you are reading this article for some other reason. Whatever the reason you are reading this article, we live in a world where competency matters. And, there is little doubt, greater managerial competencies provide you with greater exposure within your organization that opens doors to more professional opportunities and can lead to promotions.

Hopefully, at this point, you are convinced of the importance of establishing and constantly increasing your professional competencies. I hope you are thinking to yourself “How can I establish more professional competencies, and in time, how can I become an expert or authority in my domain?” The following are guidelines I have followed throughout my career as I built my professional competencies and positioned myself as an authority in my focused area of practice within the field of management.

What are the steps to developing your professional competencies?

1. You must think strategically and long-term like a leader, when you plan your annual professional development because building your professional competencies and becoming an expert or authority in your domain, is a long-term commitment. Becoming a professional manager or an expert or authority does not happen overnight or by accident. You need a plan.  You need a strategy. You must begin with the end in mind. You must strategically plan today to arrive where you want to be in your future.  You must think about where you want to be in your management career 1, 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road.  

I highly encourage you to begin your strategic planning process by completing a personal SWOT analysis of your professional competencies.  What are your strengths related to your knowledge, skills, abilities, behaviors, and experience? What are your opportunities to leverage your existing competencies and build new competencies? What are the competency areas where you perceive you are the weakest and need improvement? What are the threats to you developing your professional competencies?

Next, I encourage you to establish a vision of your managerial future.  What will your future look, sound, smell, taste, and feel like to you?  I suggest you close your eyes and visualize your future making certain that your vision is as vivid, detailed, and real as possible. You must believe your vision to achieve your vision. Build on your vision by identifying goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.  Do not take shortcuts.  Ensure your goals include all of the suggested criteria. Create action plans for each goal outlining why, what, how, where, who, and when.  Your action plans should identify the steps necessary to achieve your goals and put you closer to achieving your ideal vision of the future.

Lastly, once you have a plan that works; review and work your plan. You must reflect on your journey. Reflect on your progress. Reflect on your destination. And, always consider whether you need to make any changes to your plan to arrive at your vision of the future.

2. You must think tactically and short-term like a manager because it is the implementation of your long-term strategic planning, especially the completion of the action steps you take along your journey that will empower you to achieve long-term success and realize your vision of the future.  I suggest developing your professional competencies using the Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) prescribed managerial competencies—interpersonal skills, technical skills, leadership skills, time management skills, and attitudes and values.  I encourage you to ensure each year that you plan your professional development to build your managerial competencies in one or more of the ICPM’s suggested areas of professional competency. 

How can you establish and develop your professional competencies?

  • Reading a book, listening to an audio or podcast, or watching a video are simple and effective ways to develop professional competency.
  • Participating in a webinar or completing a non-credit course may work well for you too.
  • Assuming a leadership role in a professional association or volunteering in a non-profit organization can provide you with management experience.
  • Earning a professional certification validates your professional competencies.
  • Completing an online or face-to-face undergraduate or advanced college degree is highly recommended.
  • Speaking and writing will most definitely be part of your long-term professional development plan if you wish to become known as an authority.

Whatever your vision, strategic plan, strategy, actions steps, or method of choice for building your professional competencies, don’t worry about becoming an expert overnight. If you follow the advice I have given above, you will establish and demonstrate your competencies as a professional manager, and increase your foundation for becoming known as an expert or authority in your domain. I have covered a lot of information here so let me summarize the key points. Remember…

  • Greater managerial competency increases your expert power.
  • Greater managerial competencies extend your influence.
  • Greater managerial competencies open the door to more opportunities and can lead to promotions.
  • You must think strategically and long-term like a leader when you plan your annual professional development.
  • You must think tactically and short-term like a manager when you plan your annual professional development.

I challenge you to think strategically and long-term like a leader and tactically and short-term like a manager as you plan your annual professional development.  Seek opportunities to establish, build, and demonstrate your managerial competencies.  Plan to leverage your professional competencies to become known as an expert in your domain. And one day before you know it, you will be a highly competent expert in your domain.