Leadership Competence, just how effective are you in managing tasks and people? Leadership and management competencies are often used by larger organizations to identify peoples strengths and development needs. Often these frameworks are expensive and complex. One framework we have used in the past is this simple 55 item competence framework. It is based on 3 key factors:
- Managing yourself,
- Managing tasks, and
- Managing others.
You can use this list to look at the statements, rate yourself out of 10, and consider developing any scores below 6, and any which you believe are critical for your current or next role.
Leadership Competences come in many forms. If you talk to 100 Learning and Development Managers or Training Managers, you will get 200 different frameworks. The trick of course is to keep them simple. Look at the types of skills and behaviours that we need our managers and leaders to do. Of course the balance of each of these will vary with the level of the role. the sector, and the number of people being managed. Leaders will also need a different mix compared to managers!
Each organization will have what they consider to be their own Leadership Core Competencies. Sometimes organizations call these Key leadership competencies.
In 2008 SHRM said this:
Leadership competencies are leadership skills and behaviors that contribute to superior performance. By using a competency-based approach to leadership, organizations can better identify and develop their next generation of leaders
Leadership Competences – Managing yourself
- Responsibility – taking responsibility This begins with recognizing and accepting their part in the proceedings – what is their contribution? People can only take responsibility (it cannot be given to you without your acceptance). Taking responsibility means taking personal charge of your part in making things happen.
- Assertiveness – Being assertive The managers assert themselves – but not at the expense of others. In other words they use the strength of their position and arguments, not to force other people round to a certain way of thinking, but by laying their cards on the table whilst listening with equal respect to what the other party has to say, accepting that they have an equal right to state their case. From this position of mutual respect and clarity of views a workable compromise and agreement can be reached.
- Pressure – Able to deal with pressure Maintaining a stable performance under the day-to-day pressures which most management tasks involve can be difficult and demanding. Sometimes the pressure gets to people and they suffer from stress. Often this is unavoidable, so ways have to be found to deal with or manage the stress to keep it within the limits of personal tolerance. If one can manage oneself when under stress so much the better. This involves maintaining equilibrium, showing a calm approach, keeping one’s head, and keeping on course.
- Impact – making a personal impact What is meant here is making an impact by demonstration, clarity and surety of purpose. The manager is clear and visible to others. They make their presence felt by being purposeful. They show a willingness to express, share and stand by their own ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings about the issues involved. The skills of successful intervening explored.
- Dealing with uncertainty – It is impossible to be certain about the future. People have to live with the fact that there are times when they have to make judgments about what is going on or what is about to happen. Many things seem to point in many directions at once. Dealing with uncertainty does not mean that you give in or fall asleep. The manager remains alert and observant to see which way the wind blows.
- Being flexible – There are times when managers need to be firm – but there are other times when they need to move their position, perhaps discarding the ideas and plans first thought of to meet new circumstances. This calls for the ability to be open and to be influenced, to have a change of mind if appropriate.
- Integrity – Setting personal standards Personal standards are concerned with the way in which you carry out your job and conduct yourself. The issues concern personal integrity – moral choices about what is acceptable and what is not, the ethical basis of the work carried out. In short, what the manager does and how it is done.
- Showing enthusiasm – When plans are formulated and initiatives outlined the manager expresses confidence and optimism about their successful implementation, e.g. ‘they are going to happen’, ‘it will work’. This enthusiasm is seen to be well founded, not just a pious hope or speculation. The manager is fully committed to the course of action which is outlined as part of the plan, e.g. ‘I will make it happen’.
- Being objective – Being objective is the ability to step back from situations and to see them from the outside, without being colored by your own views or emotions. People tend to get very caught up in situations, especially when they have a strong opinion or a vested interest. Stepping back to look on as a great help – the manager may then see things differently and possibly much more accurately.
- Showing resilience – Resilience is best described as bending with the wind – not breaking in a storm. This requires a certain amount of subtlety and ‘give’ in approach – so that the manager can return to a previous position once the storm has passed. A totally rigid or insensitive approach may result in snapping or breaking.
- Being self-aware – Very few people really know themselves as well as they might –Everyone is many-sided. Everyone has some weaknesses – but strengths as well. An awareness of the manager’s ‘total self’ is important – is the manager’s picture of him/ herself balanced, and of a ‘whole’ person?
- Authentic – Valuing yourself Modesty often prevents people from seeing their total worth. If you do not recognize your worth or value then it will be difficult for you to make your optimum contribution – to add value to the situations and challenges you face. So can the manager overcome modesty and recognize his/ her true worth?
- Being an active learner – Being an active learner can involve a number of things – but it really means having a learning attitude – to self, to work and to life. This requires taking responsibility for one’s own learning, making sure you maximize any opportunities there are around to learn. Often the experience people have pass them by without them extracting all the possibilities to learn. You can learn something from most things that happen to you – as long as you continue to ask the question, ‘What have I learned from this?’
- Developing yourself – You will not make the best of any opportunities there are around for developing yourself unless you take your own development seriously. Your own development is your concern, and the support and help you get from others will be, to some extent, dependent on your own attitude to it. If you have an open, determined and positive approach the opportunities will come.
- Exercising self-discipline – Discipline is far more effective when it comes from within. If you decide what you want to do and stick to it, you are clearly in control of yourself and this becomes obvious to other people. When you make a promise to yourself you should keep it; the last person you should let down is not your boss, but yourself.
Leadership Competences – Managing others
- Relationships – Working effectively in groups and teams Research has shown that the most successful and effective organizations of today are those which use groups and teams as the main basis of the ope, practice. The manager has, therefore an essential role in encouraging and facilitating team-working or ‘teaming’ as it is sometimes called.
- Adapting – In view of the fact that circumstances often change whilst a plan is being implemented, objectives should not be set in concrete. Modifications along the way can be allowed for and built into the process. In this way objectives are kept realistic and appropriate.
- People Skills – Developing other people Assessing and developing the abilities of other people at work is considered by many to be the key competence of managers today. The manager can use their own best efforts to do this – but use can also be made of more extensive networks and contacts within the working environment, with the aim of encouraging and stimulating everyone to make best use of their abilities and capacities.
- Influencing To induce others to do something by argument, advice and persuasion is another key competence for managers in getting thing done through people. Many tactics and approaches need to be used; different people are influenced by different arguments.
- Displaying care and attention – People often promise care and attention to colleagues and indeed give it when specifically requested. However, it is important to make this visible – to show that you care, that you are giving attention all the time, not just when somebody is in difficulty.
- Being easy with people – putting people at ease This involves being relaxed and open to people – so that they in turn feel relaxed and are able to discuss things (sometimes delicate and difficult things) openly and honestly. To do this requires building up a rapport with others, quickly and seemingly without too much effort, i.e. not forced or false. Getting on to the same wavelength as others means you must tune-in to their situation.
- Improvement – Valuing continuous improvement Actively seeking to do things better is a key feature of a total quality approach to effective work. This attitude can be encouraged by the manager – and various ways and means to ensure this policy is applied in practical terms can be provided. This often means involving those most immediately concerned with the work in actively looking for opportunities to improve, and encouraging them to bring forward their ideas and put them into practice, using changes and alternatives to working methods as opportunities to working methods as opportunities to improve.
- Showing sensitivity to others – Picking up signals from others about how they are and what is happening to them can be difficult under the normal pressures of the working environment. People can make it easier or more difficult for us to pick up these messages. A basic requirement for this competence is for the person concerned to either want or need to know. Unless you observe and closely monitor what is happening for other people you will not be able to help and support them – which is an essential part of the manager’s job.
- Empathizing – This is ability to stand in other people’s shoes – to see things from their point of view, to understand how they are feeling, to tolerate and accept them (particularly if their position is different from your own). You will often need to help others to express themselves to enable you to be empathetic – so you will need to demonstrate patience and acceptance to encourage them to so do.
- Being responsive to others – When other people express their needs and requirements they expect a response from you as a manager. Before taking any action you may need to check with them what is called for. The response should be quick and to the point.
- Listening and questioning – Listening to other is an important way of showing that you are really interested and value what others have to say. Being a good listener is a key skill – especially for managers. It is an essential and useful tool to use for effective working together. Listening and questioning go hand in hand – one reinforces the possibilities for other.
- Handling conflicts – Tensions, friction, misunderstanding and difficulties can arise at work. Handling these conflicts at an early stage can often prevent things from getting out of hand. The manager’s ability to nip things in the bud can be an important skill in ensuring difficult situations don’t get any worse. When conflicting views and positions arise the manager is often in a good position to step in and help the parties to discuss and resolve issues openly.
- Valuing others – Everybody involved in a working environment has a potential contribution to make to the effectiveness of the operation. To bring the best out of them the manager needs to help them to recognize their own self-worth – and value what they can do.
- Challenging and confronting –Sometimes the most helpful and supportive action the manager can take is to challenge and confront. Without this capacity in the manager’s repertoire things can get too cozy or complacent. Provided the motives for challenging and confronting are helpful, then these behaviours can be most valuable in enabling people and situations to become unstuck and to be open about difficulties which need to be faced.
- Being supportive – A more usual way of being helpful is to be supportive. Again this is often a combination of an attitude and the use of a set of skilled behaviours. Sometimes support is formalized and structured – but more often it is available when people really need it – and it is for them to decide. The manager who wishes to be seen as supportive needs to make time available to support others.
- Motivating – The essential element in this process is to obtain commitment and motivation by involving and working together with others. Going out and actively building co-operative relationship with others (i.e. situations where everybody wins) goes a long way to ensuring that others are sufficiently motivated and committed. The manager should make it clear what kind and degree of commitment is needed. It may also be necessary to point out clearly and precisely how this commitment can be of help – and where.
- Networking – Networks (informal or semi-formal connections between people) are another essential means by which the best organization of today manager their operation. They can be designed and built to serve a variety of different purposes – especially for taking initiatives and collecting and disseminating information.
Leadership Competences – Managing the task
- Resourceful – Being resourceful requires the ability not only to find resources when they are needed, but also using resources sparingly and appropriately. To run a ‘resource-lean operation’ is to be waste conscious, re-cycling materials where possible and effectively managing your ‘people’ resources – including yourself.
- Attention to detail – Concentrate, on the task in hand This involves what Tom Peters calls ‘sticking to the knitting’, i.e. paying close attention to the job in hand when this is required. Attention to detail, being concentrated and alert, using observation skills and means of recording what is going on are ways in which this competence can be shown.
- Proactivity – Rather than being the victim of circumstances the manager needs to take proactive control of situation and events. This requires you to try and influence events rather than passively accepting things. Others can also be encouraged to accept their responsibilities, pinning them down to their part in a course of action.
- Implementing – Many plans are made and agreements reached which fall down in their application because not enough attention has been paid to how they will be implemented. Before plans are put into action the manager needs to actively seek to identify (with others) any problems and constraints, then examine the implications and consequences.
- Decisiveness – There are situations when it is appropriate to be quite firm in sticking to a course of action which has been decided (despite disagreement from others). To be decisive the manager needs to make decisions which are timely – for example, taking decisions in time for appropriate action to be carried out.
- Being strategic – Being able to differentiate key issues from irrelevant ones and secondary factors, to see what is important and what is not so essential, is a key management competence. Strategic thinking then involves being able to establish significant relationship between different elements, enabling you to deploy resources and efforts to best effect.
- Innovation – Being creative In a work setting, this competence requires being able to look for opening and possibilities where none seem to exist. Looking for alternatives and being creative in gene, possible solutions often releases new energies and commitment, particularly in situations which have become fixed, over-rigid or stuck.
- Envisioning – As well as setting immediate targets, people also need to have a longer-term view – an indication of an overall goal towards which their efforts are directed, around which their contribution can be focused. This involves building up a living picture of the future – one which can then be shared with others, easily communicated and explained.
- Showing concern for excellence/ quality People at work have an in-built desire to do their best and to be associated with a quality job, product or service. In order to achieve these high standards of outcome, performance and processes have to reflect these standards. Excellence and quality should run as a thread through everything that is done. Concern for quality has to be all-embracing and ever-present. It is the attitude of ‘good enough is not good enough’.
- Setting goals, objectives, targets – People often work best when they have a precise and clear description of what is required i.e. when they can picture the goals, objectives and targets they are required to attain. The results required – and what the outcomes of people’s best efforts will look like – need to be a constant factor in the manager’s message to them.
- Measuring performance – This means performance in terms of processes (i.e. how things are done, how operations are to be carried out) as well as results and outcomes. Measurement of performance provides the yardsticks by which everyone can assess how well they are doing. It is the task of a manager to help provide appropriate means of measuring performance both qualitatively and quantitatively.
- Managing changes – Everyone tends to be somewhat ambivalent to changes as these may herald opportunities to make things better, but may also be seen as a threat to existing (comfortable) ways of doing things. Overcoming in-built resistance to change may be necessary if the manager is to get changes fully accepted. By making a reasoned case and listening carefully to objections and difficulties (recognizing others legitimate interests and needs) the manager will be able to work though some of these resistances.
- Monitoring – Once a plan of action is underway it is very tempting to move on to the next task and leave things to chance and hope for the best. Monitoring techniques can be established to ensure that any problems, difficulties or changing circumstances can be taken into Consideration. These monitoring aspects are best introduced as part of a scheduled procedure (i.e. at particular times and control points). People can be encouraged to take part in this process – using their own self-monitoring skills and techniques.
- Handling complexity –Many work situations are extremely complex and involve much detail and a large number of variables. Somehow, this complexity has to be handled – but not by over-simplifying or ignoring important elements, nor by giving in and being overwhelmed.
- Collecting and organizing information – Personal effectiveness relies on information that is collected and assembled from a wide variety of sources, and it involves the free exchange of views and data. This requires making the best use of existing sources, checking the validity and reliability of information obtained. The information then needs to be assembled, organized and presented in its most acceptable and understandable from.
- Thinking conceptually – Concept and ideas presented as models can have a powerful and persuasive impact. Extracting the essentials from a mass of information to from patterns and meaning is an important skill in your managerial kit bag. It is also useful to be able to from overviews or concepts from restricted or incomplete data – especially those grounded in experience and practice.
- Problem focusing – Identifying existing or potential problems is important. Exploring and analyzing problems should be carried out before moving on to solutions. This process can involve others in building up a more complete and composite picture. Problem situations can be probed and tested before conclusions are reached.
- Thinking logically, analytically – Using logical and systematic approaches to work problems often enables a clearer and more accurate picture to emerge. This picture can then be analyzed and assessed – particularly with a view to distinguishing causes from effects. If a number of people are involved, a logical, analytical approach will help them to work more effectively as a group, lending to better results.
- Making judgments – There may be a number of possible courses of action which can be taken in facing any decision. Each option needs to be carefully weighed up (evaluating implications and benefits). Before a final judgment and choice is made, criteria need to be generated against which a variety of solutions can be tested or evaluated.
- Prioritizing – In very few working situations can people simultaneously carry out all the tasks which need immediate attention. Time and resource constraints will impinge on decisions about which tasks to carry out first, but you may still need to maintain a balance between achieving a number of different objectives. This task is made much easier if you have some sense of the priorities involved – i.e. what is most important and why.
- Using time – Time is an essential factor to consider in managing any tasks. Time is always a scarce resource – but like any other resource it can be used effectively or wasted. Time should be used well and any abuses, or opportunities for neglecting to pay attention to time, reduced.
- Being consistent- Taking decisions which are consistent is essential if the manager’s credibility is to be established and maintained. Being consistent means that decisions are taken in line with decisions previously made, with priorities earlier agreed.
Over the next few months, we will be publishing actions plans to help develop your skills in these areas.
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This post was first published – Dec 16, 2013 Updated
If you have hints and tips about improving your abilities in any of these Leadership Competence areas, please share in the comments area, thanks.