Title

Leadership Training and the Problems of Competency Development

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-2017

Keywords

competency development, leadership, learning organization, transformational leadership, workforcedevelopment

Abstract

Context: An important workforce development effort during the past 25 years has been developing competency sets. Several of the sets rely on the concepts of Senge’s Learning Organization and Burns’ Transformational Leadership. The authors’ experiences and study in designing and implementing a curriculum for a public health leadership institute based on these concepts raised several important questions about competency development and application.

Objectives: To summarize the use of the Senge and Burns frameworks in several competency sets and the practice literature and to assess the status of competency development for those frameworks and for competency development generally.

Design: The authors reviewed several commonly used competency sets and textbooks and searched 3 leading public health practice journals (Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Public Health Reports, and American Journal of Public Health) for Senge and Burns framework terms. They also reviewed efforts to implement competency sets in public health education and practice.

Main Outcome Measures: (1) The extent to which the articles and texts demonstrated understanding of the frameworks and reported their implementation and (2) whether competency statements and their uses in the literature contained precise definitions of competencies (knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes associated with them), the standards by which competence is to be measured, and the means for measuring their attainment.

Results: “Learning Organization” and “Transformational Leadership” terms were used often and viewed favorably. How-ever, the terms were rarely defined as Senge and Burns had, the uses generally did not indicate the complexity and difficulty of implementation, and there was only one report of even partial implementation. The review of competency development efforts found there is virtually no attention to the definitional and measurement issues in the literature.

Conclusion: Unless public health organizations recognize the need for a common understanding of competencies and how to measure their attainment and act on that understanding, it will be impossible to say with confidence that there is agreement on which individuals are competent, whether public health agencies have competent personnel, or that thepublic health workforce itself is competent.

Context:An important workforce development effort during the past 25 years has been developing competency sets.Several of the sets rely on the concepts of Senge’s Learning Organization and Burns’ Transformational Leadership. Theauthors’ experiences and study in designing and implementing a curriculum for a public health leadership institute basedon these concepts raised several important questions about competency development and application.Objectives:To summarize the use of the Senge and Burns frameworks in several competency sets and the practice lit-erature and to assess the status of competency development for those frameworks and for competency developmentgenerally.Design:The authors reviewed several commonly used competency sets and textbooks and searched 3 leading public healthpractice journals (Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, Public Health Reports,andAmerican Journal of PublicHealth) for Senge and Burns framework terms. They also reviewed efforts to implement competency sets in public healtheducation and practice.Main Outcome Measures:(1) The extent to which the articles and texts demonstrated understanding of the frameworksand reported their implementation and (2) whether competency statements and their uses in the literature containedprecise definitions of competencies (knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes associated with them), the standards bywhich competence is to be measured, and the means for measuring their attainment.Results:“Learning Organization” and “Transformational Leadership” terms were used often and viewed favorably. How-ever, the terms were rarely defined as Senge and Burns had, the uses generally did not indicate the complexity and difficultyof implementation, and there was only one report of even partial implementation. The review of competency developmentefforts found there is virtually no attention to the definitional and measurement issues in the literature.Conclusion:Unless public health organizations recognize the need for a common understanding of competencies andhow to measure their attainment and act on that understanding, it will be impossible to say with confidence that thereis agreement on which individuals are competent, whether public health agencies have competent personnel, or that thepublic health workforce itself is competent

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1097/PHH.0000000000000456

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, v. 23, issue 1, p. 73-80

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