My Favorite Lominger Competency: Dealing with Ambiguity


By, Cari Desiderio

For those who have never taken a good look at the Lominger Competency Model, it’s a great list to study from time to time when it comes to a set of leadership attributes that are worth their weight. A super quick glimpse of them is on this web site:

Perhaps the “competency” term is a little overused these days. We HR professionals love it, but I am not so sure business leaders see the term as useful outside of HR lingo that you are supposed to talk about. That’s why I prefer not to use the term competency so much. Rather, I prefer to study what these little buzz words actually are, and explain the business case for learning them. ROLI (return on learning investment) here by breaking it down to something logical.

While it may take a full book to review all of the Lominger competency list, there is one personal favorite I like to think can make the difference between good and great. That trait is the ability to handle ambiguity. I appear to not be alone in my enjoyment of this trait as a fellow blogger beat me to the discussion – you can read more here

Here’s why dealing with ambiguity seems a deal maker or deal breaker in the realm of true leadership in my opinion. This is because people are curious creatures. We have ideas and feelings that can vary from one day and one circumstance to another. As Adele in one of her songs called “Rumor Has It” says,People say crazy things, Just ’cause I said it, don’t mean that I meant it. There’s a lot of truth in this. We don’t always say what we mean. Life is muddy and one needs to be aware of this. It takes a little wisdom of interpretation, understanding and forgiveness of people to muddle through things in the workplace and made the best decision. Kind of akin to Solomon’s wisdom – smarts only get you so far. You need to be astute about the human condition to navigate with real wisdom. And this is where the ability to deal with ambiguity kicks in. The higher you climb the ladder at work, the more complex and nuanced situations and judgment calls become. One must be able to look at data and see trends and patterns that aren’t always black and white, but that provide adequate guidance (albeit ambiguous) to make the right call.

Now I’m not saying dealing with ambiguity is easy. For those who like crisp policies and rulebooks, this competency will likely be a constant stumbling block. But persist because as long as we work with humans, we must learn to deal with ambiguity.

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable as a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other thing under the sun.” – John D. Rockefeller

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