Six Universal Competencies for Career Success

By Frank B. Leibold

We read in newspaper headlines that the economy may have permanently lost 20 million jobs, that 70 million “baby-boomers” are ready to retire, that 50 percent of the workforce will be people of color by 2028, that younger workers are changing careers five to seven times, that America is losing its half-century of global economic dominance and that the global skills gap is worsening. The US workplace is experiencing radical transformational changes. These changes will require new skill-sets for future career success and to start closing the non-competitive skills gap.


Despite the job stimulation legislation last year, the slow and unsteady economic recovery has been jobless. Some economists claim that the uncertainties of new medical and financial legislation have caused companies to withhold an estimated $1.9 trillion in capital that they would otherwise have spent. Others point to jobs moving to lower wage rate countries. Both factors are contributors. However, I believe that we are beginning to see the first negative impact of America's global skills gap.


The Widening American Global Skills Gap


Many American companies find themselves ill-equipped to grow because of a lack of skilled workers according to a 2005 report by the National Association of Manufactures (NAM) The Growing Skills Gap. And the skills gap is also not just a large manufacturing company problem. A 2002 US Chamber of Commerce report, Keeping Competitive, indicates that 73 percent of surveyed small companies with less than 50 employees are experiencing “severe” or “very severe” problems in hiring qualified workers and that 40 percent of all job applicants had “poor or no employment skills.” The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) in 2007 surveyed 300 corporations and found that the US will have a shortage of 14 million skilled workers by 2020 and 66 percent of companies surveyed indicated that they were currently experiencing a skills gap with new employees. The Conference Board (CB), the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), President's Council on Competitiveness (COC) and the National Center on Employment and the Economy (NCEE), among others, have documented a widening global skills gap over the past 25 years.


In the near future, skills defined as critical thinking, creative problem solving, communication and collaboration (the four Cs) will become even more important to organizations according to a new survey conducted by the American Management Association (AMA) released in April 2010. The AMA recommends that public education merge the four Cs with the traditional three Rs in public school curriculum, as their members acknowledge the global skills gap.


In order to begin to eliminate these skills gaps and re-tool America's workforce, six universal Lifelong Transferable Competencies (LTCs) have been scientifically developed. The following LTCs are required for most occupations and most levels of responsibility. Transferable skill-sets, or competencies, have become the new currency for career success, future employability and closing America's global skills deficiencies.



Six Lifelong Transferable Competencies (LTCs)


To succeed today one must:


1. Satisfy the changing customer's or client's needs. Your customer may be either external or internal and your output either a product or service. Most times customer satisfaction will require a process of innovation through team-oriented collaboration.


2. Become a creative, effective and efficient problem solver utilizing critical thinking skills to meet the customer's need in a response time that provides a sustainable competitive advantage through added comparative value and service.


3. In order to perform effectively, in an increasingly multicultural society, it is important to also have a global perspective with cultural understanding and sensitivity.


4. One must also be motivated and persistent for the right reasons; realizing that you can increase your motivation substantially to face unforeseen future challenges. The root of all effective motivation is a healthy amount of self-esteem.


5. Manage and take responsibility for one’s own career, including multiple and varied job assignments with an international perspective, to help develop the needed competencies. A formal career plan, along with feedback from candid and trusted friends for realism, and a mentor to assist you in navigating career moves is also critical.


6. Finally, live a balanced and healthy life with time devoted to family and outside work activities, a skill that is now recognized as essential to life and career success.


The six LTCs above, taken as a whole, describe the process to success that John C. Maxwell, author of Success:One Day At A Time, refers to. Maxwell states “We may all differ on the definition of success but the process to get there is the same for everyone.”


One must satisfy their customer's or client's needs—LTC 1. In order to accomplish this, your response time must provide a comparative competitive advantage with added customer value—LTC 1a. This usually involves a process of solving problems (LTC 2) with multicultural co-workers, requiring cultural understanding and, many times, a global perspective—LTC 3. To accomplish this you will need the energy, vitality and clearness of mind that comes from leading a balanced and healthy lifestyle—LTC 6. In order to develop these LTCs one must manage one’s own career (LTC 4) to develop the required skill-sets from carefully chosen career experiences. All of these competencies require internally driven motivation and persistence—LTC 5. These universal competencies are required of all employees regardless of job, occupation or industry. They have been developed from the disciplines of business, psychology, sociology, social-psychology, career theory and competency research and are validated from 47 research sources with a 92 percent correlation, after eight years of research, which are detailed in the author's new book The Key to Job Success In Any Career: Developing Six Competencies That Close America's Global Skills Gap that will be published in November by Outskirts Press.





The transformational changes that the US workforce is experiencing will require employees to acquire new skill-sets, or competencies, to succeed in this new environment. This article provides six lifelong transferable competencies that are universal and required for career success regardless of occupation, industry or company.


Frank LeiboldFrank Leibold, Ph.D., after a distinguished 30-year business career with three multinational corporations-culminating in the position of Group President re-tooled himself and obtained his PhD. Frank then became a nationally recognized university professor of marketing while founding his own global management consulting company. He can be reached at docleibold@sccoast.net .

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