keyEssential Business Competencies for Survival and Success  – What are they?

By Cameron MacKenzie, B.Sc., MBA, CPA, CGA

Test how you stack up in these competency areas.


Top CEO’s know that showing up with the right credentials are the minimum requirements to get you through the doorway for the interview. However, those credentials don’t get you the rising star career pathway. Developing strong, positive, relationships, being motivated, visionary, vibrant and inspirational are competencies essential for both career and company success. Top CEO’s lead the competition with teams that excel in these competencies.

CEO’s and others who know it all and follow through with their own strategies are missing the critical competitive advantages of an excelling team. Competition today means leveraging every ounce of performance to survive and thrive. Inspiring a common vision and using everyone’s skills is the minimum requirement for continuously leading success. One person can’t possibly know it all – you have to optimize the best of everyone.

Geoff Colvin, author of the bestselling book, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, talks about how technology now does jobs once considered possible only by humans. He describes how humans must act more like humans to be competitive. Social interaction competencies including empathy, collaboration, social sensitivity, creativity, storytelling, brainstorming, innovating with others and leading are what top organizations are embracing to achieve success. These competencies will define the difference between high value and low value work.

The good news is that these competencies are trainable with deliberate practice. Even the military, which focused in the past on the five domains of land, sea, air, space, and cyber, is now considering a sixth domain – the human domain. Top business schools like Rotman are now training in these high value competency areas.

Today success is less about what you know and more about what you are like. Self-reflection and guidance from others are keys to embracing these competencies. Effective human interaction is the key. Studies show that if we move twice as close to someone, we interact four times as much.

Here are some tips for a basic refresher of these key competency areas:

  1. Always focus on the issue rather than the personality.
  2. Be proactive, if you see an opportunity to make an improvement do it.
  3. If you are giving feedback, make sure it is constructive. Focus on what has been accomplished, what is going well and what can be done differently to make things better.
  4. Develop constructive relationships by maintain self-confidence and self-esteem.
  5. Communicate frequently, explain how accomplishments fit into the big picture and acknowledge how contributions are impacting the overall success.
  6. Maintain a positive outlook.
  7. Remember Winston Churchill’s three “C’s”. Always be cool, calm and collected.
  8. Plan properly. The five “P’s” of planning are: “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”
  9. Try to make each day the best day ever for those around you and yourself.

Where do you stand on the human interaction scale? See for yourself @

Ask yourself – What can I do to strengthen my skills in these critical competency areas?


Cameron MacKenzie is a Principal at CPA Canada and recently was the Director, Professional Services, CGA-Canada. He brings 16 years of experience from the telecommunications industry and another 12 years from CGA-Canada. His experience includes executive and management education, professional development, labour relations, business development, and accounting. Cameron has been recognized for improving member value and engagement by providing quality services important to members, providing strategic financial training to support business transformation and improve the labour negotiation process, and for leading a practice analysis which defines and defends certification requirements. He is a board member on the New York Institute of Technology Business Advisory Board and previously served on the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Accounting Advisory Committee. Cameron is a CPA, CGA, earned his Teaching Certificate and B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia and his MBA from Laurentian University.

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