Suggested Competencies for Effective Leadership in Organizations

Written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Copyright 1997-2006.

(This file is referenced from Introduction to Leadership and Leadership Development Planning. Readers might best be served to first read the section Gaining Broad Perspective on Leadership before continuing through the rest of the information in this topic.)

Sections of This Topic Include:

Using the List of Competencies
Leading Yourself
Core Competencies to Lead Individuals, Groups and Organizations
Leading People -- Other Individuals
Leading People -- In Groups
Leading People -- Organization-Wide


Using the List of Competencies

Challenge of Identifying Competencies Needed by Leaders

The particular competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) that a person needs in order to lead at a particular time in an organization depend on a variety of factors, including:
1) Whether that person is leading one other individual, a group or a large organization;
2) The extent of leadership skills that person already has;
3) That person's basic nature and values (competencies should be chosen that are in accordance with that nature and those values);
4) Whether the group or organization is for-profit or nonprofit, new or long-established, and large or small;
5) The particular culture (or values and associated behaviors) of whomever is being led.

The above considerations can make it very challenging when trying to determine what competencies someone should have in order to be a better leader. Perhaps that's why leadership training programs in institutions typically assert a set of standard competencies, for example, decision making, problem solving, managing power and influence, and building trust.

Don't Get Hung Up On Categories -- Different People Will Categorize Topics Differently

If the reader had the opportunity to review a variety of leadership development programs, he or she would notice a wide variety of approaches to categorizing topics. Don't get hung up on the "right" way to categorize the topics.

Competencies Are Cumulative from Leading Individuals to Organizations

Leading in successively larger contexts (from individuals to groups to organization-wide efforts) requires successively larger sets of competencies. For example, "core" competencies are the minimum needed in leading others, whether other individuals, in groups or organization-wide efforts. To really be effective at leading other individuals, one should have the core competencies plus certain other competencies to lead individuals, etc.

Leading Yourself

Setting Direction

Career Development (includes several topics, for example, career planning, finding jobs, etc.)
Personal Development (includes several topics, for example, assessments, setting goals, etc.)

Effectively Leading Yourself

Personal Productivity (includes several topics, for example, decision making, problem solving, etc.)
Personal Wellness (includes several topics, for example, self-confidence, assertiveness, etc.)

Also Consider

Managing Yourself

Core Competencies to Lead Individuals, Groups and Organizations

Setting Direction

Decision making -- setting a course of action
Planning -- Basics (establishing goals and how they will be reached)
Problem Solving (analyzing alternatives and selecting a course of action)

Influencing Others to Follow Direction

Managing Power and Influence ("Various Methods of Influencing Individuals" are listed below)

Also consider

Basic, Entry-Level Skills in Organizational Management
Basic Guide to Management and Supervision

Leading People -- Other Individuals

(Be sure to read the above section Using the List of Competencies.) To lead other individuals, one should have the core competencies (listed above) plus the following competencies listed below.

Setting Direction (depending on the situation)

Establishing Performance Goals

Various Methods of Influencing Individuals

Coaching
Counseling
Delegating
Mentoring
Selling
Work Directing

"Advanced" -- Effectively Leading Other Individuals

Building Trust
Communications (face-to-face)
Conflict (Managing Interpersonal Conflict)
Handling Difficult People
Listening
Motivating Others
Sharing Feedback
Valuing Diversity

Also consider:

Basic Overview of Supervision

Leading People -- in Small Groups

(Be sure to read the above section Using the List of Competencies.) The following methods apply to small groups in which the leader can frequently accomplish face-to-face contact with members. To lead others in small groups, one should have the core competencies (listed above), competencies to lead other individuals (listed above), plus the competencies listed below for leading others in small groups.

Methods of Influencing Groups

Facilitation
Group-Based Problem Solving and Decision Making
Meeting Management
Project Management

"Advanced" -- Effectively Leading Groups

Conflict Management in Groups
Group Dynamics (basics about nature of groups, stages of group development, etc)
Systems Thinking (seeing larger structures and patterns in processes of groups and organizations)
Team Building

Leading People -- in Large Groups and Organization-Wide

(Be sure to read the above section Using the List of Competencies.) The following methods apply to large groups in which the leader cannot frequently accomplish face-to-face contact with members. To lead large group and organization-wide efforts, one should have the core competencies (listed above), competencies to lead other individuals (listed above), competencies to lead others in small groups (listed above), and competencies listed below for leading others in large groups and organization-wide efforts.

Setting Direction

Strategic Analysis (environmental scan and SWOT analysis)
Strategic Direction (mission, vision, values and goals)

Methods of Influence

Organizational Performance Management (includes numerous methods and movements)

"Advanced" -- Effectively Leading in Organizations

Organizational Change and Development
Organizational Communications
Systems Thinking (seeing larger structures and patterns in processes of groups and organizations)

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