How to Win in Business: The Competence/Dominance effect

The Competence/Dominance model is a model for success in a given field. The model was originally developed by the John Danaher, one of the most successful Mixed Martial Arts Coaches of all time.

The Competence/Dominance model is the idea that in order for an athlete to become a world champion MMA fighter they must be highly competent in all skills of the sport and in addition, they must be the best in the world at one or two specific skills. For example, the athlete who was often associated with Danaher was  Georges St-Pierre (widely regarded as the greatest Mixed Martial Artist of all time) was highly competent in all areas of the sport of fighting. In addition he was for most of his career, the best in the world at striking into a takedown, in affect achieving dominance of the fight as a whole.

What does this mean for business?

The Competence/Dominance Model gives us a framework for success, by showing us exactly what we can do to grow our business. Simply put, all you have to do to achieve success in business is to be competent in all areas of business, whilst being world class in one specific area.

We see this model all the time in business. Every great restaurant has a signature dish. They might have great food, but they almost always have something they can lead with. Another great example is a law firm who offers services to world class clients, or a cafe that offers some award winning coffee.

From this dominant field, all other bases can be covered. As long as the restaurant has great service, maintains a clean environment and a good atmosphere, it can be assured of some degree of success.

How does it work?

A study published by the University of British Columbia suggested that the ability for an individual to display their competence and dominance of a field, their status amongst their peers rose substantially. Even if the other person did not fully comprehend what the other person was dominant in, their were still regarded as having status. The same can be said for business.

What if the business doesn’t have an area of Dominance?

If a business doesn’t have an area of dominance that it can tell customers about, that’s ok. There are so many areas that a business can achieve dominance in, most of which are completely intangible. If a business has some great personalities running it, some fantastic customer relationships, this can be enough to display that  a business is amongst the best in their field.


The Competence/Dominance model states that to achieve success in a given field, an organisation must have one area of dominance and be competent in all other areas. Having an area of dominance can help a business raise its status amongst its peers.

Written by David Jackson, Founder and CEO of FundX