A Perfect Pair: The Role of Competence and Confidence in Business

Understanding this vital match will help boost your success

(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: Thinkstock)

Like peanut butter and chocolate—or even peanut butter and jelly—some things are truly a match made in heaven. However, when it comes to business, we forget that some fundamental pairings are just as complementary. Take competence and confidence for example. Do you have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to perform daily tasks with excellence, or to collaborate with others experts in the field? Are you familiar with your blind spots? And, do you execute with confidence?

Take a closer look. You have the potential to sharpen your saw with additional focus on these two critical skills. Here’s why:


Specific knowledge, skills, and experience are all necessary to perform the essential tenets of any job with excellence. If you lack them, your chances of success and long-term tenure are slim. Although the requisites of competence will vary based on the nature of your work, some examples include: organizational comprehension, financial understanding, management skills, technical competencies, and personal characteristics. The fundamentals of competence are based on a unique combination of education, experience, training, talent, and skills—each of which are amassed over time and from a variety of sources. Striving for excellence and continuing to enhance your level of competence, can ensure that you remain relevant and adaptable to an ever changing and equally demanding global work environment.

Although competence can be characterized at the individual level, it can also be defined at organizational level. The terminology, however, changes. Bain & Co., a global management consulting firm, defines competence at the organizational level in terms of core competencies. A core competency is a “deep proficiency that enables a company to deliver unique value to customers.”

A core competency embodies an organization’s collective learning, “particularly how to coordinate diverse production skills and integrate multiple technologies.” Understanding competence at the organizational level is critical, especially because individuals are responsible for their collective contributions to core competencies. Moreover, for those who manage and lead at critical levels with an organization and who are responsible for assuring that unique value it delivered to its consumers, understanding core competencies is an essential component of achieving competitive advantage and maximizing scalability.


If you’ve overcome the hurdle of competence, then you’re well on your way to success. But, how do you fare on the confidence scale? According to Harvard Business Review, “Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence.” But no one is confident one hundred percent of the time. Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything: the Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live said that, “insecurity plagues consciously or subconsciously every human being I’ve met.” How do you overcome self doubt? An honest assessment of your bright spots (strong areas) and blind spots (weak areas) and then correcting or capitalizing on them, according to Deborah H. Gruenfeld, the Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Co-Director of the Executive Program for Women Leaders at Stanford Graduate School of Business. To be effective, no matter how competent you are, you must harness a degree of confidence that will allow you to execute with poise and conviction.

Take a moment to assess your level of competence and confidence in business. It will make a significant difference in the way that you show up and are perceived by others.

To your success!

Karima Mariama-Arthur Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.

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