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How To Define 4 Levels of Competence in Your Business

Essential tips and tools for executive coaches and business consultants.

Early in my career as an executive coach and business consultant and executive coach I was introduced to a concept known as the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle. is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in any hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”. What he means here is that employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

Doing further research on the subject I soon realized that there are four stages of competence. By keeping these stages in mind one might prevent the opposite four stages of incompetence from coming into play.

Four Stages of Competence

The four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in any specific skill.

The concept was first formulated around the same time as the publishing of the book The Peter Principle

Management trainer Martin M. Broadwell described the model as “the four levels of teaching” in February 1969. Paul R. Curtiss and Phillip W. Warren mentioned the model in their 1973 book The Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. The model was used at Gordon Training International by its employee Noel Burch in the 1970s; there it was called the “four stages for learning any new skill.”

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