plotting will and competency: a helpful self-evaluation tool

i am committed to growth. i want to be a life-long learner. i want to grow in self-knowledge, become a better leader, a better youth worker, a better husband and father, a better human being, and a better follower of jesus. not that i always nail this growth thing, to be sure. but i’m thrilled when i see growth in my life.

recently, i was sharing a little leadership self-evaluation tool with someone in my youth ministry coaching program, and thought it might be helpful to pass along.

where it came from: less than a month before i was laid off from ys/zondervan, i had an annual evaluation with my boss. by this point, i was under such horrendous stress (trying to keep ys from imploding during the upcoming transition from zondervan to youthworks, and trying to figure out how to remain true to who i was while being asked to be a kind of leader that wasn’t me). it was the single worst year of my life, and i wasn’t enjoying my work. my relationship with my boss was strained, and i didn’t see a way out of that. i knew ys was either going to get broken up and sold, or get shut down, or some other alternative i didn’t see (but didn’t expect would be good). when i sat down with my boss for my evaluation, i said something like, “i hardly see the point of this, and i’m not very excited about it.” she asked why, and i responded, “well, i think that within a month, i’ll either be going with ys to a new supervisor, or i’ll be out of a job; but either way, an evaluation of how my leadership should change here doesn’t seem worth the time or effort.” she said, “i don’t see it that way at all.” and she meant it.

what came next surprised me: an opportunity to grow, and to learn more about myself.

she set our evaluation forms (hers and mine) aside, and asked me to stand at the whiteboard in her office. she asked me to draw a simple 2-axis grid, with low to high will along one axis, and low to high competency along the other axis. this created four quadrants:

then she asked me to think of all the responsibilities, tasks and other roles i played as the president of youth specialties (and a leadership team member of zondervan). with each, i was to place it on the grid. things like “financials” (meaning, staying on top of the details of ys’s budget and financial performance) got plotted in the lower left quadrant. things like championing the values of ys, and understanding youth workers got plotted in the top right quadrant. but the truly fascinating stuff were those things that got plotted in the other two quadrants — stuff i wanted to do, but wasn’t good at; and stuff i was good at, but didn’t want to do. she suggested additional responsibilities and functions i hadn’t thought of, and i placed them on the chart.

then she revealed a similar chart she had created about me, with almost exactly the same list of responsibilities, roles and functions. to my great surprise, there were only a couple items (out of about 20) where we had disagreement; and even then, the difference wasn’t great.

the process was wildly helpful and insightful. not only was it a good discussion around the differences in our perception and expectations, it was helpful for me to plot myself. i wrote the whole thing down, and brought it home for further reflection. again, the two quadrants i found most helpful to plumb were low will/high competency and high will/low competency. had i continued in that role, it would have been a great tool for making adjustments in the things i spent time on, a great tool for identifying areas i needed help (or needed to delegate), and a great tool for identifying those areas i needed to work on even if i didn’t like them.

i’d encourage you to take 10 minutes and do this exercise yourself. it might be helpful to make the list of responsibilities, role, function first, before plotting them. once you’ve got the whole thing completed, show it to your spouse, or a co-worker, or a supervisor, and ask for feedback. it could be a wonderful opportunity to grow!

2 thoughts on “plotting will and competency: a helpful self-evaluation tool”

  1. AWESOME! We use a similar tool with our potential volunteer leaders, and our own team. We list all the roles in our ministry and ask them to plot them based on “I like it, but I’m not good at it”, “I like it, and I am good at it”, “I don’t like it, and I’m no good at it”, and “I don’t like it, but I’m good at it”

    The goal is to try to get everybody ministering in areas that they like, and they are good at.

    Sadly, most people spend their vocational careers in areas that they “Don’t like, but are good at” they are classic widget-makers who wish they could do something else, but can’t…or are afraid to try….because they are good at what they do, have a mortgage to pay, mouths to feed etc.

    Helping folks serve in an area that they like, and they are good at helps ensure a fruitful and fulfiling ministry experience….and helps keep them around a little longer.

    I couldn’t recommend this exercise more highly! It is fantastic.

Leave a Reply