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Who am I - 20 Experts in work

Immanuel Kant wrote that self knowledge is to know one's heart and understand the motives behind one's actions. Experts in work answer the question: who am I at work. Experts are personified figures driven by motives, ways of thinking and attitudes with characteristic ways of acting, planning, solving problems and viewing the world and oneself. They guide both the young and old, staff and leaders toward educational and information environments, occupations and jobs where one can feel satisfaction and give one's best contribution.

20 Experts in work

Basic work competencies are fourteen competent ways of performing in independent activities, leading others, collaborating, planning and solving problems and viewing the world and oneself. Basic competencies may be expressed as twenty easily relatable "Experts in work" from a Quality seeker to an Optimist. See also the preceding lesson "Basic work competencies" and the following lesson "Self-directed career planning".

Basic competencies derive from individuals' characteristic motivations, ways of thinking and attitudes developing earlier in life and being more stable in time than occupational and job specific competencies. But most of all, they guide all educational, occupational and job specific competence. Whatever work you do or plan to do, basic competencies function as direction and path providers but also as limitation imposers. Basic competencies can be described as a pyramid's base structure guiding the two upper structures, see the figure below. Hence, it makes sense to pose oneself the question: who am I at work?


Competency pyramid
Answer to the question who I am in ACTION becomes elucidated by examining experts such as a Quality vs. Results seeker, an Action vs. Thought leader, Socializer, Advisor of others, Listener to others and Follower of one's own path. Answer to the question who I am in PLANNING and problem solving becomes elucidated by examining experts such as a Fact-based individual vs. Idea generator, a viewer of the Practical vs. the Complex picture, Analytic vs. Intuitive thinker and Cautious vs. Quick implementer. The satisfying WORK ENVIRONMENT becomes elucidated by examining the proponents of Order vs. Variety. Expertise in success expectancies is displayed by both Realists and Optimists. From the experts, choose the most characteristic of yourself on this PDF document.

Self-performed Expert choices - self-image

People draft their competency portraits by choosing expert figures most relatable to oneself based on their descriptions in action, planning and problem solving, work environment and expectancies of success. From action and from planning and problem solving the choice is made on the two most relatable figures. The choice is between two alternative figures in regard to suitable work environment and expectancies of success. The choices can in the end be recorded on the form's summary page.

Personified, easily relatable expert figures arouse people's interest to self-examination much better than lifeless attribute listings. Choosing between the experts involves focusing on intricate but important discriminations. Namely, all the figures represent valued experts in diverse educational and information environments, occupations and jobs while at the same time being equally socially desirable. Choice making results in a profile of the individual's core basic competencies understandable to him/herself. As continuation one may request a trained coach for a feedback session on the choices.

WOPI testing

Self-performed choices are often sufficient in clarifying the person's current state and future directions in his/her career and competence. As continuation to the choices one can fill out the standardized WOPI test with 224 detailed questions widely used in real life recruitment. The altogether six chosen expert figures form the "tip of the iceberg" while WOPI testing covers all the twenty expert figures. For a comprehensive picture, it may be useful to illuminate the non-chosen but potentially important expert figures as well as those wholly rejected by the person. The test's detailed quality has another benefit. Namely, WOPI produces numerical scores on all expert figures, thereby adding precision to the big picture. The main attention is directed on divergencies from the person's own midline profile while the less important comparison to other people is seen in numerical scores on the test profile.

In the big picture, the self-performed choices coincide well with the test results, thus confirming the validity of the particular basic competencies. However, the interesting specifications brought about by the test's detailed quality can be truly useful. For example, an individual's self-performed choice may point to being an Intuitive thinker whose competence value is production of creative solutions. But, the test shows that the individual's score reaches only the halfpoint between analytic and intuitive thinking. Instead, the person reaches a high score on Idea generation, the competence value of which is content production. All in all, the testing phase may bring "cold showers" but it may as well expose competencies that the person was totally unaware of.

Often the self-image based on self-performed expert choices is influenced by idealized pictures of oneself and social desirability effects. Therefore, any marked difference between self-performed choices and the test results can in an important way expose the "ultimate truth". The test results are not given a truth criterion status but the goal is to reflect upon the reasons for such differences. As with the self-performed choices, it may be useful to discuss the results of the testing phase with a trained coach.

Self awareness for organizations

Self-awareness brings also significant value to organizations. The consultant company Korn & Ferry (2015) mapped out the "blind spots" among nearly 7000 professionals in 486 listed companies, comparing them to the company's stock value. Blind spots were defined as gaps between the professionals' self-reports on their core competencies and reports given by their co-workers. The companies with highest rate of return showed significantly less blind spots among their professionals. According to a blog published in Harvard Business Review in 2018, self-awareness helps leaders more than an MBA (HBR 2018). An article by Rubens and colleagues (2018) instructs in implementing self-awareness training in MBA programs.

Korn & Ferry on Self-awareness (2015). https://www.kornferry.com/press/korn-ferry-institute-study-shows-link-between-self-awareness-and-company-financial-performance.
HBR on Self-awareness (2018). https://hbr.org/2018/01/self-awareness-can-help-leaders-more-than-an-mba-can.
Rubens, A., Schoenfeld, G.A., Schaffer, B.S. & Leah, J.S. (2018). Self-awareness and leadership: Developing an individual strategic professional development plan in an MBA leadership course. The International Journal of Management Education. 16, 1-13.


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