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3 Dangers of Being Over-Competent

Businesswoman Juggling ResponsibilityJust because we can do it all, doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

The big question is, “Do you suffer from the Competency Curse?”

We are mothers, wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters, friends, volunteers, mentors, and professional women. We are naturally wired to play a variety of roles with a variety of responsibilities on a daily basis.

Since cavemen roamed the earth, men have been the hunters and women have been the gatherers. We are genetically predisposed to be multi-taskers. This “I can do it all” attitude may have been an important factor to the survival of early civilization, but as we moved out of the caves and into more complicated lives, this attitude also needs to change.

Unfortunately, we carry this prehistoric multi-tasking behavior into the workforce. We want to do everything ourselves and be everything to everyone. Here are three reasons why being too competent can sabotage your career.

1) Being Jack of All Trades, Master of None

In today’s marketplace, it’s all about being an expert. It’s not about being average or competent at a hundred different tasks…it’s about being the best at a select few. Highly competent people have the innate ability to accomplish many things, but spreading yourself too thin and not being selective where you apply your skills can ruin your career.

Personal and professional branding is a critical component to success. You want to be known for something specific, and you want to be recognizable for a marketable talent. Being associated with a wide variety of unrelated skills and projects is too vague and ultimately forgettable…and if you’re forgettable, you’re ultimately disposable.

Become the master of something specific and people will remember you, hire you, promote you, reward you, and retain you.

2) Dumping on the “Go To” Person

When you’re a highly competent person, people often take notice and take advantage of you. When people know you have the ability to complete a task, meet a deadline, and be a resource you will get a lot of extra assignments dumped on your desk.

It’s not that you “can’t” complete those assignments, but is that the best use of your time? If you use all your time helping other people and being that “go to” employee, you won’t have time to pursue the opportunities that could take your career to the next level.

It’s easy to get sucked in when our egos are triggered. It’s hard to say no when your co-worker says, “I can’t do this without you“, or “You’re the only one that can help me.” It feels great to be needed, wanted, and appreciated. Just be careful that being “dumped on” is not derailing your own career goals.

3) Lacking Leadership

Powerful and effective leaders are seen as decisive, clear, and focused.  They also have the confidence to surround themselves with super-smart experts that they can delegate to, because true leaders set others up for success.

They want the people around them and within their organization to shine.  The only way that happens is by helping the right person optimize the right opportunity.  It’s all about empowerment.

A highly competent person can have a tendency to be a control freak and hoard responsibilities.  The thought is that “no one else can do it as well, accurately, fast, or efficiently as I can“.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you have aspirations for any kind of leadership position, then the professional development of others needs to be a top priority.  Delegation and support are key.  You want to provide other people with the tools, skills, resources, and opportunities to be successful.

Even though you may “want” to do it all, doing it all by yourself is ultimately going to kill your career.  Align yourself with other competent people. and then you can do it all together.

Competency is only a curse if you allow it to be.  If you focus your skills in a particular area, make sure you have time to actively pursue those skills, and then delegate the rest, you’ll find that competency is really a blessing.

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