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The Quarterly 2011

 


Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Dr. Gruner for her recommendation of Zenger and Folkman's book1 in the June issue of The Quarterly.2 I found the book to be a useful resource as I reviewed learning and development for medical officers within our government department.

I compared the department’s capability framework with competencies from local and international specialties3. Six common competency themes emerged: technical knowledge; professionalism; communication; collaboration; management/leadership; and research/education (scholar/teacher). This confirmed the popular preference for generic competencies . Surprisingly though, RACMA's model is the most complex. Zenger describes a model with 175 competencies as 'patently ridiculous' and 'extreme'5, and yet RACMA has 201 grouped within seven core competencies and 31 key competencies.6 In comparison, the Canadian model uses a total of 126 enabling competencies7 and the RACS uses 109.8 Complex models may be useful for evaluation, but risk being administratively burdensome, and perceived as bureaucratic, complicated and impractical.10 Skill does not guarantee competency11; more competencies do not guarantee better managers11; and job performance is not directly proportional to competency12.

The RACMA competency framework is reviewed regularly to reflect changing education and management practices. Perhaps the review should also include simplification?

It is useful also to know that competencies are not equal and that there can be different levels of proficiency within a given competency.13 In our department the competency of highest priority for the medical officers, and what differentiates them from non-medical staff, is technical (specialised) knowledge – knowing what only someone with a medical degree and clinical experience can know, and effectively using that knowledge. In addition, the highest level of competency is expected for both professionalism and communication. Learning and development is needed not only to turn our medical officers into great leaders, but with recent organisational restructures, to also turn them as good leaders into great managers.

Finally, Zenger's comment that ‘The quality of leadership in an organization seldom exceeds that of the person at the top’14, has been a good reminder for me to reflect on my own leadership influence on our medical officers. Zenger’s comment also makes me smile and wonder if he had in mind that other well-known saying, ‘It’s hard to soar like an eagle, when you’re surrounded by turkeys’?

Dr Jo-Anne Benson
RACMA Candidate

 

References:
1 Zenger, JH & Folkman, JR 2009, 2nd ed, The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, McGraw Hill, New York.
2 Gruner L 2011, ‘Practical Leadership: understanding and developing competencies’, The Quarterly, June, p 635
3 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 2010, Standards and protocols, Melbourne, viewed 16 July 2011, www.surgeons.org; Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators 2011, Competencies, Malvern, viewed 16 July 2011, www.racma.edu.au; Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 2011, Curriculum for Australian general practice, South Melbourne, viewed 16 July 2011, www.racgp.org.au; Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists 2011, Continuing Professional Development in Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology Handbook 2010-2012, Sydney, viewed 16 July 2011, www.ranzcr.edu.au; Hung C 2011, ‘Setting Standards for Specialists’, The Quarterly, p 612, viewed 21 May 2011, www.racma.edu.au; The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada 2011, The CanMEDS 2005 Physician Competency Framework, Ottawa, viewed 16 July 2011, www.rcpsc.medical.org
4 Markus LH, Cooper-Thomas HD & Allpress KN 2005, ‘Confounded by competencies? An evaluation of the evolution and use of competency models’, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, vol. 34, no. 2, p 122; Stuart R 1983, ‘Problems of training design with special reference to YTS’, Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 15, no. 8, pp. 239-240.
5 Zenger, JH & Folkman, JR 2002, The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, McGraw Hill, New York, p 86.
6 Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators 2011, Competencies, Malvern, viewed 16 July 2011, www.racma.edu.au
7 The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada 2011, The CanMEDS 2005 Physician Competency Framework, Ottawa, viewed 16 July 2011
8 Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 2010, Standards and protocols, Melbourne, viewed 16 July 2011, www.surgeons.org
9 Markus LH, Cooper-Thomas HD & Allpress KN 2005, ‘Confounded by competencies? An evaluation of the evolution and use of competency models’, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 119 and 123.
10 Vernhout A 2009, ‘Management challenges in the competence-based organization’, p. 4, viewed 29 July 2011, www.competentiendenken.nl
11 Mintzberg H 2004, Managers, not MBAs: a hard look at the soft practice of managing and management development, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, p. 257.
12 Bolden R 2006, ‘Leadership competencies: time to change the tune?’, Leadership, vol. 2, no. 2, p. 8.
13 Zenger, JH and Folkman, JR 2002, The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, McGraw Hill, New York, p. 89; Markus LH, Cooper-Thomas HD & Allpress KN 2005, ‘Confounded by competencies? An evaluation of the evolution and use of competency models’, New Zealand Journal of Psychology, vol. 34, no. 2, p. 123.
14 Zenger, JH & Folkman, JR 2009, 2nd ed, The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders, McGraw Hill, New York, p. 26.




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