Is Competence a Blessing – Or a Curse?

Being competent seems like it is a good thing, but like all good things, too much can lead to problems.*

With my corporate employee clients, I am finding that they raise their hand to take on additional projects even with a full workload because they know they will be able to figure it out. 

Conversely, their managers often pile work on them because they are high achievers and their managers know they will likely be able to get it done. 

This often works for a while, and sometimes a long while, and then the employee burns out or leaves for a new role.  

So, how does this show up for business owners? 


As you are growing a business, you may need to do many job functions in the business. You could find that you are quite competent in the role, but doing that function isn’t the best use of your time. 

That said, it may be hard for you to assign those tasks to someone else because you are used to doing them, and whoever you are training to take over will likely not be as good as you are to start. 

Remembering to delegate and having patience with getting your replacement up to speed can be a challenge for competent business owners. 


Highly competent people can be overly optimistic about how long things will take. They may accept too many meetings, sign up too many clients, and then try to do volunteer work in their spare time (time they may not have). 

Without reasonable timelines that have buffers for when things don’t go as planned, which will happen, overworking will likely become a big problem.

As the business owner, this is self-inflicted, but your team didn’t have a say. Your employees are willing to work hard, and they are willing to sprint for short periods of time, but a culture of systemic overworking will not work over the long term – for you or for your employees. 


People solve problems differently. The way you do something may not be the way someone else does something. It’s good to give people guidance and then let them find their way. Maybe they come up with a better way, or maybe they end up doing it your way. 

People who are too competent can also be very hands-on and controlling. It’s something to watch for. 

Also, it’s important to watch for ego payoffs around retaining too much power and knowledge. This can make you feel very important, but it’s controlling behavior, and doesn’t benefit you or your business over the long term. 

While being competent has many advantages, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides and take steps to avoid them. 

Photo by Microsoft 365 on Unsplash

*This post was published originally on