A Guide to Leadership Competency Models

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What is a Leadership Competency Model?

A leadership competency model, also sometimes called a leadership capability model, is a framework that identifies and describes the essential skills and behaviors that influential leaders must possess to succeed in their roles. It typically includes a set of core competencies or characteristics that are deemed critical for leadership success. Such characteristics can include strategic thinking, communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and adaptability, among others. The model can be used to assess an individual’s strengths and areas for development, which will guide the design and delivery of leadership development programs. A leadership competency model can also provide a common language for discussing leadership skills and behaviors across an organization. This helps align expectations, clarify performance standards, and improve communication among leaders at different levels.

Essential Traits of Leadership:

Generally, leadership traits can be divided into three domains: skills necessary to lead an organization, skills required to lead oneself, and skills needed to lead others. The characteristics you should prioritize in a leader will vary depending on their role. For instance, an organization launching a new department would likely find the most value from an individual who is confident leading others. In contrast, a startup business owner would appreciate individuals who show initiative and are comfortable leading themselves.

Lead an Organization

Top-level executives such as company presidents and CEOs will display many of the skills necessary to lead an organization. Individuals who express these skills excel at seeing the big picture and are innovative. Organization leaders are also adept at mentoring junior employees and helping them grow.
Here are some of the most common skills needed to lead an organization:

  • Change management
  • Decision making
  • Comfortable taking risks
  • Managing work
  • Setting vision/strategy
  • Enhancing the talents of others

Lead Oneself

Individuals who excel at leading themselves show great initiative and are quick learners. People who exhibit many of the traits of self-leadership are studious and are constantly learning new skills to improve themselves. Self-leaders are confident in managing their own workload and require very little oversight from others.
Here are some of the most common skills/characteristics needed to lead oneself:

  • Integrity and dedication
  • Ambition
  • Initiative
  • Self-awareness
  • Adaptability
  • Manages deadline independently

Lead Others

Individuals who show many of the skills needed to lead others make for proficient team leads and management position holders. Individuals who excel at leading others are often approachable and compassionate. These skills are necessary for building an inclusive and cohesive team.
Here are some of the most common skills/characteristics needed to lead others:

  • Effective communication
  • Values diversity
  • Building and maintaining relationships
  • Navigating workplace politics and compromising

Leadership in a Business Meeting

How to Effectively Implement a Leadership Competency Model

Unfortunately, leadership competency models are not one-size-fits-all. If used improperly, these models can actually harm an organization by misidentifying capable leaders. Your company’s leadership competency model will need to be created for your organization’s specific needs in order for it to be effective. The leadership development experts at SkillSource have experience identifying and developing leaders in organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Define Organizational Needs:

The first step in developing a leadership competency model is to define your organization’s needs. Doing so will ensure that the model is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals, culture, and context. Defining organizational needs can also help generate support from stakeholders, as they are more likely to see the value of the competency model if it is tailored to the organization’s specific needs.

Identify Necessary Leadership Traits:

Now that you know exactly what your organization needs, you can start identifying the skills necessary to fill that role. Consider the specific responsibilities of the position you’re looking to fill and what skills a leader would need to meet those needs. For example, if interacting with clients and stakeholders is typical for the role, then you’ll appreciate finding a personable leader. Identifying what skills a leader needs to be successful will enable you to find a perfect fit. The more specific these leadership traits are, the more effective they’ll be for identifying strong leaders.

Find a Method of Identifying Strengths:

After the first two steps, you should have created the vision of the perfect leader. The next challenge is to find an individual that meets your criteria. To do this, you’ll need to settle on the scope of your search and a method of measuring people’s strengths. Decide if you will be bringing in a leader from outside of your organization or searching for someone within your organization. Sometimes, training an already trusted employee to be a leader can be more practical than finding a new hire. The easiest way to measure a person’s leadership strengths is through observation. Pay attention to how the potential leader interacts with their team and goes about their work. You can then categorize the proficiency of each skill to see which of their abilities is the strongest.

Follow Through and Review:

Once your leadership competency model has been put together, all that’s left to do is implement it and review its effectiveness. Conduct interviews and performance evaluations to gain insights into how leadership behavior has changed after the model has been put into action. Identify your current leadership competency model’s shortcomings and continue improving.

Developing Effective Leadership With SkillSource Learning Partners

Creating a leadership competency model is a fantastic way to develop your team’s leadership skills. With a leadership development consultant from SkillSource, you can mold great leaders at any level of your organization. A SkillSource professional will create customized leadership training programs tailored to your organization’s specific needs. Contact us today to speak with a representative about how our consultants can directly improve your leadership.