Skills and Competences for Intelligence Professionals Part 2: Competencies

Which competencies intelligence professionals should master?

Competences can be grouped in different ways, depending on the job or function. For intelligence professionals it makes sense to look at the following three categories: 1. Technical intelligence competencies, 2. Management and leadership competencies, and 3. Relational and interaction competencies.

Technical intelligence competencies


We are most familiar with the technical intelligence competences, and most intelligence professionals have these competences well developed. In essence, this means the ability to answer key intelligence questions and to support decision by providing the right insight.


In more detail, having technical intelligence competence means that we know how to do research (sometimes also in unconventional ways), collect information, select the right data for analysis, check quality of the data and use the right analytical methodology. We also know how to create insight and foresight, and how to form conclusions and synthesis – and sometimes even recommendations.


The skills that are needed to obtain this competence include: critical, logical and analytical thinking, elicitation, observation skills, accuracy, detail consciousness, data rationality, intellectual curiosity and efficiency.


Management and leadership competencies


Management capabilities are becoming more and more important. It is not just managing direct reports but also managing projects, the entire MI processes, and the time and workload involved. And with the increasing importance of co-creation, it is important to understand the broader context of the key intelligence questions, lead a team of contributors, demonstrate business knowledge to come across as a professional and cope with the corporate mentality.


These management and leadership competencies require several different skills: One needs to be able to work in a structured manner, to multitask and to facilitate. It’s important to be resilient, responsive, practical and goal oriented. And when it comes down to managing an intelligence department with direct reports, it’s also required for an in intelligence professional to be a confident and forward thinking visionary who is able to motivate others and to build the right kind of corporate mentality.


Relational and interaction competencies


We are more connected than ever before, and collaboration is becoming more and more important. Also the function of an intelligence professional goes beyond the delivery of fact and findings. Formulating and communicating opinions and recommendations is a critical part of their job, and it requires excellent relationship skills: We must be able to build, maintain and develop relationships, gain the trust of our stakeholders, get buy-in from top executives and understand the need behind the need.


Soft skills are at play here. We must be seen as subject matter experts and advisors that stakeholders enjoy working with. We need to be able to get support and contribution from others, demonstrate a consultative attitude, promote the MI activities and create satisfied stakeholders. Being emotionally controlled, approachable, adaptable, consultative and a good team player are important abilities that rely on social confidence.


All of the competences listed above need to be equally developed, and an intelligence professional will master all three categories.


by Joost Drieman



This series of five articles zooms in on the competences and skills needed for market intelligence. In our third article we will look at competence assessment in more detail.


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