Job Application Smarts Series: Are you a brilliant mechanical manager or a superior competent leader?

Schools have switched to the competency-based interview question model 

Nowadays most interview committees prefer to pose competency-based questions so that they can find someone who matches the job and role that person has to fulfill in their school.

Schools are complex, fast-paced organizations where many people have to work in concert to meet their various objectives. Schools need highly effective, competent senior management leaders who can build strong, healthy teams and then lead these teams cooperatively to achieve their goals.

So, what is competency? Why is this attribute a critical factor for leaders, especially those who are in charge of managing schools? Perhaps a scenario can help set the scene for us.

Here is the scenario. You believe you are a highly skilled, effective administrator. When you are assigned a task, you will complete the task well and meet the deadline IF the task depends on solely on your input. However, when the various aspects of a task depend on the coordinated effort of your team, you may regularly experience challenges and not meet the standard nor the deadline of your target.  Who are you going to blame for these inefficiencies ? Are you still an effective administrator under these circumstances?

Management and leadership models at schools

Let us dig a little deeper. As a manager, you need to complete a task because your reputation and competence are on the line. Which of these two approaches below is your default management style?

The brilliant mechanical manager 

You may use your authority because of your management position and force people to comply. This approach may help but in the long run, people find subtle ways to resist your authority by delaying or ignoring your instructions. Their resistance may wear you down or you may become increasingly high-handed.  Essentially you are a brilliant mechanical manager or a highly efficient bureaucrat, with limited people’s skills. The downside is that your team will start withholding their creativity and their talents and execute only the minimum requirements. 


The superior, competent, leader manager

The alternative is that you may apply your skills to motivate, inspire and engage your team to help them and monitor them to reach your target. Everybody’s responsibility and accountability are measured in an ongoing fashion for the success of meeting the deadline or target. Being able to do the task competently by getting your team to work cooperatively and effectively, is competency. 

Competency is the ability to manage the task processes and leading the team to reach the goal. Balance is critical. You need to know intuitively how and when to use your positional authority in conjunction with your leadership skills, personal attributes AND your interpersonal communication skills to achieve high team performance. 

Schools need to build visionary school management teams.

Schools are flooded with school management teams who are still stuck in the traditional bureaucratic management model. Schools know that they need to inject their senior management teams with individuals who are knowledgeable movers and shakers. One way of transforming their leadership teams is to focus on the appointment of the right people when there is a vacancy.

The role of Interview committees is to shortlist highly competent candidates for management positions.  Interview committees  therefore use the competency-based interview model to help them assess the depth and experience of candidate’s  ability to be a high=performing, relational manager.  

Time for reflection

Is your school looking at the visionary, measurable criteria for the appointment of senior management team members? Or, if you are applying for a senior management position at a school, are you building your capacity as a high-performing, relational manager?

The next post in this Job Application Smarts series will discuss the STAR Interview technique approach that you can use to answer competency-based interview questions.


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