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Political Competence

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Deb Anderson OTA # 102789 only!!!

Senior executives from a variety of organizations are often called to testify about health policy issues (as you saw in Unit 3's group project about the U.S. congressional hearing). It is in the organization's best interest if these executives are politically competent. Please address the following questions:

In general terms, what knowledge must a senior executive have to be considered politically competent?

What skills must a politically competent senior executive have? Explain.

As always, U.S. sources.

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Solution Summary

In general terms, this solution discusses the knowledge and skills that a senior executive must have to be considered politically competent. Supplemented with two highly informative articles linking ethics to political competence.

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I have attached my response, as well as two highly relevant articles. I hope this helps and take care.


1. In general terms, what knowledge must a senior executive have to be considered politically competent? What skills must a politically competent senior executive have?

Interestingly, political competence is not a widely used term in the healthcare and ethics literature. There appears to be no clear-cut list of the knowledge and skills necessary to be considered politically competent, as there is no consensus in the literature as what constitutes political competence. Saying that, though, I have located several good sources.

Competence is defined as the capability to decide and act. However, the notion of decision cannot be totally separated of the notion of act. Indeed, deciding refers to an act (What will we do? How? When?) and acting requires a decision process (at least to control the act, e.g., when we move one of our arms, a feedback of the motion is sent to decision processing centres to control it) (see http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/KAW/KAW96/lecoeuche/main.html) .

Although senior executives probably need certain knowledge or meta-knowledge for achieving competence (i.e., political competence), there is no consensus in the leadership literature as to the exact nature of the knowledge or skills needed for this type of competence. There is a high overlap between other competencies and political competencies, so we will address the literature about some of the general competencies for senior executives, as well some of the literature about political competence.

A. Senior executives need to know how to hire competent workers:

In general, human beings have core competencies that are the essence of the total person (70%) and competencies and skills can be learned through experience and performance (30%). In other words, you hire high energy and artistic ability, but teach performance skills.
Measure Unchangeable, Constant, Core Competencies (http://assessmentspecialists.com/competency.html?source=overture&OVRAW=competencies&OVKEY=competencies&OVMTC=standard)

B. Senior Executives: Relational and Emotional Competence, etc.(refer to diagram)

Many leadership and competency theories exist, each with their own set of skills and knowledge. For example, the chart below compares how the manager (S) sees his performance versus all coworkers including the boss (A)


(Source: http://assessmentspecialists.com/competency.html?source=overture&OVRAW=competencies&OVKEY=competencies&OVMTC=standard).

According to this author, the competencies necessary for the senior executive are in the areas of Relationship, Task Management, Development, etc. The specific skills are listed below the main heading (i.e., listening to others, communicates effectively, and so on from the diagram above).

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