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  • Carl Blanz

How Skill Building Really Works: Part Two

In part one, we walked through the four stages of competence:


  1. Unconscious Incompetence (Ignorance)

  2. Conscious Incompetence (Awareness)

  3. Conscious Competence (Learning)

  4. Unconscious Competence (Mastery)

And, we walked through a scenario where you (fictional), led me (also fictional) through the progression of mastering how to read a P&L.

If you need a refresher, here is part one.

A second model, Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership Model was the model that you followed in guiding my skill development.

In the Situational Leadership Model, Blanchard provides us with a way to lead, based on where each individual is in relation to their progression of competence and commitment. We’re not talking in depth here about commitment yet, but for the sake of this exercise, use “Is committed to mastering all facets of their position” as the level of commitment.

Here are highlights of the two models working together:



The first stage and fourth stage (directing, deciding, delegating and clearing) are common enough that no explanation is needed. It’s the two middle stages that confuse leaders.

Blanchard makes a simple distinction between coaching and supporting, here’s what I would add:

Coach - We talk and I decide.

Support - We talk and you decide.

These distinctions are really easy to remember. I would also add that both of these levels are about sorting out confusion. In the awareness level, I’m sorting out confusion about how to apply my learning. In the learning level, I’m exploring how far I can take this knowledge.

Here are a few experiments you can try with this information.

  1. Invite anyone on your team into a conversation to identify together where they are in relation to mastery of their position. Use the Situational Leadership model as a roadmap to guide the conversation.

  2. Consider incorporating this thinking into your new employee orientation. What would your organization look like if orientation took each person to the level of mastery?

Here’s an experiment we give leadership teams that want to increase skill development across the organization, or on a specific team.

1. Print copies: Situational Leadership Model

2. Review the model with your leadership team, (have them read this blog post too.)

3. Take the team members whose development you’re evaluating and put each name on individual Post-its.

4. On the wall, draw on a large scale, the four quadrants of the Situational Leadership Model.

5. Use the criteria “Has mastery of their role and responsibilities” and put the Post-it in the quadrant that best fits where they are in relationship to that statement. If there is debate here, invite it! That alone is incredibly valuable. To have your leaders working to understand where each person is in relationship to skill mastery of their position is a contribution in itself.

6. Once you have come to agreement on where each person is, you now collectively have an understanding of which leadership method (directing, coaching, supporting or delegating) to apply for each person and a way to measure how they are developing.

Understanding the uniqueness of each person, and that where they are in terms of competence and commitment is a great way to see how to apply different leadership methods and build the skills they need to become masters.

If your team had clarity about where each person is in relation to mastering their position, and had the right leadership to move them through the progression, would that provide you more freedom?

If we can help you to get more freedom, let us know!

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