According to a study by Gallup, 10% of the population are natural leaders, and another 20% have defining leadership traits.

It is no secret that employees look up to their leaders for motivation and guidance. Leaders significantly impact workplace dynamics.

A leader has the power to shape the mindset of employees, thereby determining the kind of workplace they create. So, how do you cultivate reliable leaders in your company?

To begin, you must have a clear understanding of leadership competencies to know which skills to focus on and which ones to steer clear of. That’s exactly what we are going to discuss in this blog. 

What are Leadership Competencies?

Leadership competencies are the specific skills and attributes that differentiate an exceptional leader from an average employee. These competencies often vary between organizations because each company may prioritize different qualities based on their unique goals, values, and vision.

Therefore, organizations can use their own leadership competency framework - which is a structured tool designed to identify potential leaders who possess the necessary skills to lead effectively within an organization. This framework outlines the essential skills and abilities required for effective leadership.

Despite the variability in specific competencies across different companies, there are common traits that are universally recognized as crucial for any leader. These include:

  • Communication Skills: The ability to clearly and effectively communicate with others.
  • Decisiveness: The capacity to make quick and effective decisions.
  • Interpersonal Skills: Skills necessary to interact successfully with team members.
  • Team Leadership: The ability to guide and motivate a team towards achieving its goals.
  • Credibility: Being trustworthy and reliable in all professional interactions.
  • Emotional Intelligence: The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.
The 4 necessary leadership skills

Research shows that 42% of companies lack a formal leadership competency framework to guide their development programs.

By establishing a clear framework, organizations can clearly define their leadership goals and evaluate the capabilities of potential leaders at various levels. This strategic approach clarifies the expectations from leaders and supports the overall growth and direction of the company.

Core Competencies of Leadership

The debate on whether leaders are born or made still goes on. However, it is still not clear as to whether one is born with certain traits that make them an effective leader or not. There is a specific set of competencies that makes a leader efficient, no matter what.

Certain competencies remain highly personalized and detailed to industries and companies. But even then, there are certain core competencies that companies expect from a great leader. Let us briefly look at what they are:

The 4 core competencies of leadership
Core Leadership Competencies

1. Decision-Making Skills

A leader has to make tons of decisions on a daily basis, some small and some big. Nonetheless, making effective decisions at the drop of a hat is a core competency every leader must possess. The ability to analyze data relevant to a particular situation and make the right decision is a highly coveted skill when it comes to leadership.

2. Change Leadership

Organizations undergo change every now and then, and this is not without resistance from employees. Change management is a skill, and those with the ability to handle employees during a time of serious organizational change, can consider themselves a great leader. 

3. Conflict Management

As a company consists of employees from different backgrounds and departments, the chances of conflict breaking out are rather high. A good leader must possess the core competency to resolve a conflict by appeasing both parties involved in the issue, which is not as easy a feat as it sounds. 

4. Communication Skills

I know this is a rather obvious competency, but that doesn't make it any less significant. Communication is the backbone of every company, and leaders with the ability to communicate the right thing at the right time transcend from good to great. 

What is a Leadership Competency Model?

A leadership competency model allows companies to lay out a framework that explains the essential set of skills a leader must have in an organization.

A competency model makes it super easy for companies to identify employees who show promise. In other words, it helps them see a pattern in the performance of their employees, select a few of them who have the potential to become great leaders according to the model, and then develop those abilities in them.

Although it is effective to hire a leader who has these competencies, it is always a bit more efficient to develop good leaders from your existing pool of employees. Your employees are already attuned to the company style and culture, making them easily malleable to fit the new role of the leader. When it comes to the employees, the leadership competency model acts as a guideline that helps them understand the skills that companies value, enabling them to identify and fill the skill gaps.  

Five Leadership Competencies

There are tons of leadership competencies companies value and would like to see in their leaders. Let us take a look at the top five of them:

  1. Integrity
  2. Self-discipline
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Stress Management
  5. Self-awareness

#1 Integrity

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity.

—Dwight D. Eisenhower

People often judge leaders by the kind of people they are. When making moral decisions, a leader with integrity puts the needs of others ahead of their own.

Leaders with integrity make sure that their character is the same in both their personal and business ties. Trustworthy leaders are honest, humble, and able to keep their word. 

#2 Self-Discipline

Self-discipline, or the ability to control your thoughts and get through tough times, is a basic trait that many of these skills require of leaders.

Leaders don't do things for themselves; they do them because they care about other people. Instead of deciding right away, leaders carefully think about what might happen if they do something. Controlling your natural urges to act out of anger, greed, or pride is part of self-discipline.

#3 Trustworthiness

There is a lot of business that depends on trust between companies, workers, and customers. To be a good team leader, you need to show that you can be trusted by both your bosses and your team members.

You will have more chances to succeed if you show that you can be trusted. Being trustworthy takes time to build and can only be shown through actions. As a boss, you need to be able to build trust with everyone and the people you work with.

#4 Stress Management

A leader's job is to make sure that everyone can do their best work in a safe and healthy setting. Managing stress and disagreement well is important because if you don't, you'll lose useful people, work productively for fewer hours, and be less productive.

Stress and disagreements can hurt the team's mental health and make it less able to work together. Emotional intelligence can also help people be more resilient, which makes them less likely to give up when things get tough.

That toughness will be needed in times of fast innovation and change when there is a lot of chaos and unpredictability.

#5 Self Awareness

A leader who is aware of their own strengths and shortcomings continuously work on improving themselves, making them efficient day by day. Because of this very reason, self-awareness is a highly sought-after competency in leaders. 

5 Popular Leadership Competency Model Examples

Taking inspiration from other leadership journeys can help you create and implement your own leadership competency model. Here are some examples of widely used and successfully implemented competency models.

  1. Lominger Competency Model
  2. SHRM Competency Model
  3. IBM's Basic Blue Leadership Competency Model
  4. Google's Project Oxygen
  5. NHS Leadership Framework
Leadership Competency Models
5 Examples of Leadership Competency Models

1. Lominger Competency Model

This model was first developed by M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. They developed this model at Lominger Limited, a company they founded, that specialized in creating tools and solutions for leadership development and talent management.

Korn Ferry later acquired Lominger Limited, and the Lominger competency model became part of their leadership development and talent management tools.

The Lominger Competency Model acts as a skill management system that assesses 38 different competencies on certain skills and behavioural traits.

2. SHRM Competency Model

Developed by The Society of Human Resource Management, this model is tailored for HR professionals to guide their development and performance.

Key Competencies under focus:

  • Relationship Management
  • Ethical Practice
  • Critical Evaluation
  • Global and Cultural Effectiveness

3. IBM's Basic Blue Leadership Competency Model

Developed by IBM, this model is aimed at identifying and nurturing essential leadership qualities within the organization. It's a cornerstone of their approach to developing effective and forward-thinking leaders.

Key Competencies under focus:

  • Team Leadership
  • Change Leadership
  • Client Focus
  • Strategic Thinking

4. Google's Project Oxygen

Initially a research study by Google, Project Oxygen evolved into a comprehensive competency model for managers. It serves as a guideline for what makes a successful manager at Google, influencing their management training and development practices.

Key Competencies under focus:

  • Being a Good Coach
  • Empowering the Team
  • Results Orientation

5. NHS Leadership Framework

Developed for the UK's National Health Service, this framework focuses on leadership competencies within the healthcare context. It's instrumental in guiding leaders in the NHS to deliver effective and high-quality healthcare services.

Key Competencies under focus:

  • Delivering the Service
  • Improving the Service
  • Setting Direction

Each of these models are tailored to their own organizational context, and you can use them as a guide to frame your own.

How to Develop Leadership Competencies?

Developing leadership competencies is essential for cultivating effective leaders who can navigate challenges, inspire teams, and drive organizational success. Here’s how to develop these critical skills within your organization.

1. Assess Current Leadership Skills

Start by evaluating the existing leadership skills within your organization. Utilize assessments like 360-degree feedback and engagement surveys to gather comprehensive insights about a leader's competencies and areas needing improvement.

2. Define Required Leadership Competencies

Clearly define the specific leadership competencies that align with your organization's goals and culture. This will be your leadership competency framework.

You can then tailor these competencies to fit both the current needs and future aspirations of your organization.

For example, company XYZ might include strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, decision-making, and team motivation as their leadership competency framework.

3. Create Leadership Development Programs

Design a structured leadership development program that focuses on nurturing the competencies you defined and tailored for your organization.

This program should include tailored training sessions, workshops, and seminars that target both emerging leaders and seasoned executives. Incorporate various learning methods such as case studies, role-playing, and peer-to-peer coaching to enhance the learning experience.

a. Offer Mentorship and Coaching

With mentorship programs, potential leaders are paired with mentors or coaches who can help them develop their leadership skills and provide them with valuable insights and feedback.

Experienced leaders can offer guidance, share experiences, and help identify skills gaps.

On the other hand, coaching programs focus on specific competencies that has potential for improvement, and provide actionable advice on how to improve them.

b. Provide Real-World Opportunities

Allow aspiring leaders to apply their skills in real-world scenarios. This could be through leading projects, shadowing senior leaders, or taking on temporary leadership roles.

Practical experience is invaluable as it helps individuals understand the complexities of leadership in a real setting.

c. Encourage Self-Reflection

Promote a culture where leaders are encouraged to self-reflect on their performance and leadership style. Self-reflection helps leaders recognize their strengths and areas where they need to improve. Encourage them to keep a leadership journal or engage in regular self-assessment exercises.

d. Foster Continuous Learning

Encourage continuous learning and development through access to the latest leadership resources, books, podcasts, conferences, and online courses. The field of leadership evolves constantly, and staying updated with new theories and practices of utmost importance.

4. Measure Progress and Impact

Regularly measure the impact of your leadership development efforts through performance metrics and feedback from team members. This not only helps gauge the effectiveness of the development programs but also motivates leaders to grow and improve.

By methodically enhancing these competencies, you empower your leaders to advance professionally while driving your organization towards broader success.

Now You Know What to Look for

Efficient leadership is no joke, as it has a direct relationship with employee engagement and employee productivity. Now you know what skills to develop in a leader and how to do so. We suggest you start with surveys and efficient ones at that.

ThriveSparrow specializes in creating all shapes and sizes of surveys, helping you understand your employees and develop the right form of leadership that fits your company like a glove.