Posts Tagged ‘leadership competencies’

toolKitPeter Bregman (“Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail,” Forbes, 7/11/2013) wrote, “I have never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. … What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical. … There is a massive difference between what we know about leadership and what we do as leaders.

The goal of any leadership development program is to change behavior. After a successful program, participants should show up differently, saying and doing things in new ways that produce better results.

What Peter Bregman wrote about the goal of leadership development applies to all training and development, and it’s the major weakness of non-technical training and development programs. That is, how does an organization ensure that the training and development is applied and whether it makes a difference in the organization? Not merely whether the participant has gained the skill or knowledge, has the participant applied it and is the skill or knowledge appropriate for the organization? The lack of post-training and -development  assessment particularly irks me because the typical response to program failures is – they need more training. But, I digress.

A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote that there is no such thing as a generic leadership development program or plan since each person brings unique experience, skills, and knowledge to the position. In addition, each leadership position, within core competencies, has unique requirements. For example, the organization’s structure, culture, and current situation may contribute to making certain developmental priorities over others.

A first step in creating an individual leadership development plan is an assessment of the leader based on core competencies. [I provided a composite of leadership core competencies in my prior blog post.] It’s important to begin with a 360° assessment: feedback from self-assessment, subordinates, peers, and higher management. Which competencies produce positive results, which are weak, which result in negative effects? It’s important that the assessment address each vector; for example, communication with subordinates and higher management may be weak while communication with peers is not.

An individual leadership development plan would be prepared based on the results of the 360° competency evaluation. Developmental activities to improve a competency may be based on factors such as preferred learning styles, availability, cost, and priority.

In addition, it may be worth considering complementary developmental activities for subordinates, peers, and higher level management. For example, if the the leader needs further development in planning and organizing, it might be beneficial to address complementary planning and coordination development for all levels of the organization.


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My last blog post included a table of leadership competencies (Leadership Development Models) from Zenger Folkman; 2013 Executive Coaching Survey; Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy; and federal Senior Executive Service. It was my attempt to determine the commonality in competencies. There is nothing immutable with this arrangement of competencies; these were my choices on that day. Looking at it today, I might rearrange some of the competencies.

The table indicates considerable agreement on leadership competencies and I have spent the last several days working to integrate these leadership competencies.

I first decided to eliminate some competencies.  The first quick three eliminations are:

  • Integrity and honesty – This is a character trait rather than a competency. It doesn’t mean that I don’t expect a leader to have integrity and be honest; of course, I do. I expect a leader to do everything with integrity and honesty.
  • Conflict management/resolution – This is a skill that may be needed in building and maintaining relationships, or in collaboration and teamwork. I think it’s more important to focus on the positive outcome; that is, building and maintaining relationships.
  • Self development, preparing self, assesses self, continual learning – While I expect a leader to be a continual learner, I think that it is not compelling enough to be included among the core competencies of a successful leader. Can a “lack of competence” in self development or continual learning adversely impact a leader?

I then took a look at grouping competencies into clusters. I decided on the four core competency clusters:

  1. Working with others
  2. Delivering results
  3. Organization stewardship
  4. Technical expertise

Within each cluster, I’ve selected core competencies and provide example behaviors.

Working with others

1.  Communicates persuasively and confidently

  • Speaks and writes clearly
  • Articulate spokesperson for the organization
  • Negotiates effectively

2.  Builds and manages relationships

  • Develops professional relationships
  • Fosters and environment of trust, integrity, honesty, and respect
  • Resolves conflicts

3.  Develops others and teams

  • Coaches and mentors
  • Facilitates collaboration
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Promotes training and education

Delivering results

4.  Problem solving

  • Uses appropriate analytical tools
  • Uses appropriate problem solving techniques
  • Encourages creativity and innovation
  • Makes sound decisions
  • Monitors problem resolution

5.  Planning and organizing

  • Aligns policies and operational plans with strategic plan
  • Aligns organization resources with plans and policies

6.  Inspires and motivates others to high performance

  • Encourages and supports high individual performance
  • Encourages and supports high team performance

Organization stewardship

7.  Strategic thinking

  • Translates organization’s vision and mission into strategic initiatives
  • Aligns goals and objectives with strategic plan

8.  Builds coalitions

  • Promotes the organization
  • Acts as credible and convincing spokesperson
  • Develops and manages partnerships

9.  Manages resources

  • Manages financial resources
  • Manages human resources
  • Monitors resource allocation and usage

10.  Manages organizational performance

  • Ensures execution of strategic plan
  • Ensures delivery of organization’s mission
  • Champions continuous improvement

Technical expertise

Technical competencies are unique to the leadership position. For example, an executive director of a very small nonprofit may need to knowledge of fund development, budgeting, accounting, and the nonprofit’s operational area. An executive director of a nationwide nonprofit may need a broad operational knowledge.


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Thanks to the world wide web, I have been searching, reading, and organizing over the past few days.  Because of my experience with all of the military branches and federal civil service, I collected their lists of leadership competencies.  I also found a list of 16 leadership competencies compiled by Zenger and Folkman that I first found addressed in Making Yourself Indispensable (John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, and Scott K. Edinger, Harvard Business Review, October 2011).  I finally included the skills from the 2013 Executive Coaching Survey that I discussed in my blog post, Leadership and Management, the Balance.

What resulted is fascinating. (Note: After several attempts at building a table in this blog, I gave up and inserted two images of the table.  A more legible view of the table can be found in a PDF file, Leadership Development Models.)
Leadership Competencies
Leadership Competencies

Zenger Folkman – Zenger Folkman Blog, http://zengerfolkman.com/category/blog

CEO Coaching – 2013 Executive Coaching Survey, Stanford Graduate School of Business Center for Leadership Development and Research and The Miles Group

Department of the Army – Army Leadership, Army Regulation 600-100, 8 March 2007

Department of the Navy – Navy Leadership Competency Model, Center for Personal and Professional Development, http://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cppd/News.aspx?ID=1
Core competencies: A – Accomplishing Mission, B – Leading People, C – Leading Change, D – Working with People, E – Resource Stewardship

Department of the Air Force – Leadership and Force Development, Air Force Doctrine Document 1-1
Leadership competencies: A – Personal Leadership, B – Leading People/Teams, C – Leading the Institution

Federal Civil Service, Senior Executive Service – U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Guide to Senior Executive Service Qualifications
Core competencies: A – Fundamental Competencies, B – Leading Change, C – Leading People, D – Results Driven, E –Business Acumen, F – Building Coalitions

The next blog post will look at synthesizing a core set of leadership competencies from the above.

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