Updated June 8, 2023
Leadership competencies refer to the specific skills, knowledge, and abilities required to be an effective leader.
Leadership behaviors and skills contributing to superior performance are known as leadership competencies. Organizations can assist in identifying and developing the leaders of the next generation by adopting a competency-based leadership approach.
Researchers from around the world have identified certain essential competencies for leadership. Apart from these, the future strategies and trends of the business also need to drive the development of new leadership competencies. Even though some of the leadership competencies are vital for every organization, a firm needs to define the attributes of leadership which are distinctive to a particular firm for the creation of competitive advantage.
The top-level leaders, aspiring managers, and managers are all concerned with developing the competencies required to help them become more effective leaders. Over 100 years of research on leadership competencies have identified and outlined the successful abilities and skills associated with leadership effectiveness.
Better leadership is a result of focusing on skill development and leadership competencies. However, the skills required for a certain position might change depending on the organization’s specific level of leadership competencies. Using the competency approach will help organizations determine the specific competencies required for different positions at different levels in a particular organization. Certain vital leadership competencies have been identified by the “Centre for Creative Leadership,” and these are consistent throughout the organizations. According to them, the overall structure gets divided into competencies needed for leading the organization, leading others, and leading oneself.
When HR professionals select and develop leaders, they need to consider the leadership competencies possessed by the individual and then compare them with the competencies required for further development to achieve success. Thus, by looking at a person’s current capabilities and comparing them to the skills and competencies essential for the position of leadership, organizations will be able to make better decisions for the hiring, development, and promotion of leaders.
Leadership Competencies and How to Develop Them?
1. Social Intelligence (SI)
SI is among the best predictors as far as effective leadership is concerned. Social Intelligence refers to the sensitivity to social situations, the “constellation of social performance,” and role-playing skills, which are crucial for effective leadership. Social intelligence is a wide concept about understanding social situations, dynamics, and the ability to operate efficiently in several social situations.
How to develop Social Intelligence?
Expose yourself to different types of people and different kinds of social situations, along with the work for the development of social perceptiveness and also the ability to engage other people in a conversation.
2. Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills, also known as a “subset of social intelligence, “form a more relationship-oriented aspect of social effectiveness. The soft skills of leadership are often represented best by interpersonal skills.
How to develop interpersonal skills?
To develop interpersonal skills, work on effective listening and communication skills. Join networking groups and Toastmasters for this purpose and work on your personal and professional relationships with your relatives, colleagues, friends, or significant other.
3. Emotional Intelligence / Skills (EI)
Emotional intelligence is a compliment to social intelligence. It is the ability of an individual to communicate at an emotional level, be able to have an understanding of emotional situations and emotions, and also stay in tune with own emotions. These are related especially to the leadership “charisma.”
How to develop Emotional Intelligence?
To develop emotional intelligence, you need to practice reading the nonverbal cues of others, especially the cues that are related to emotions. Learn to have control over your emotions as well as your anger outbursts.
It is among the cardinal virtues of Aristotle. It is a synonym for wisdom and is the ability to understand the perspectives of others by being open and unbiased.
How to develop Prudence?
To develop prudence, you need to listen to others. You have to learn to ask for the views and opinions of others and consider them when choosing a particular course of action. You have to work towards being more broad-minded and also more open-minded.
Fortitude or courage is another cardinal virtue. This includes the courage to take calculated risks, stand up for your beliefs, and do the right things.
How to develop courage?
Its roots lie in the development and the holding of strong personal values. If you value someone or something sincerely, you will possess the courage to stand up for your principles and your people.
6. Conflict Management
This “higher order” interpersonal skill helps colleagues avoid or resolve conflicts. When the members of an organization are in conflict with each other, the leaders are generally called upon to adjudicate. However, the ability to either avoid or resolve conflict situations is also involved in this.
How to Develop Conflict Management Skills?
Courses and workshops are available to assist you in understanding and learning conflict management strategies. A vital aspect of conflict management with respect to leadership competencies is to help the parties involved in the conflict to compromise (wherein each party should have the flexibility of giving up something) or collaborate (a win-win outcome).
7. Decision Making
The core leadership competencies are making good decisions or leading a good decision-making process. The ways of making decisions can be better or worse. Still, a good leader knows when to decide, when the peers and subordinates must be consulted and brought into the decision-making process, and when the time is right to take a step back and allow others to make decisions.
How to develop decision-making skills?
The best way of honing decision-making skills is by experiencing and studying situations where decisions have gone wrong. People learn more often from the mistakes that they have committed rather than from the success that they have achieved.
8. Political Skills
It is a fact that all organizations or groups at their core are full of workplace politics. To move ahead, people attempt to gain allies, break the rules and push forward their agendas. An effective leader is also a good player politically, has knowledge regarding the rules that need to be followed for playing the game, and can manage political behavior to prevent it from resulting in the dysfunction of the group or the organization.
How to Develop Political Competencies?
In the same way, as with several of the other leadership competencies that are highly developed, political skills are acquired through learning from experience, social dynamics, and people.
9. Influence Skills
Leadership, at its core, is all about influencing other people’s behavior. Therefore, a great leader is someone who is a master of social influence and can wield power fairly and effectively. You can become all the more influential in the leadership role if you can develop interpersonal or soft skills.
How to develop Influence Skills?
Reasoned and well-thought-out arguments are useful after getting trained in debating. Viewing things from the perspective of the other person may assist you in understanding what the things expected by them from negotiation are. This will let you focus on a situation that is a win-win.
10. Area Competence / Expertise
In today’s age, the significance of knowledge in every aspect of jobs is less important than it was. In creative firms or high-tech industries, the team members might possess more relevant knowledge and expertise than the leaders. Still, leaders must develop expertise in particular situations, industries, or organizations where they are in leadership roles.
How to develop Area Competencies?
Development is a lifelong process, similar to all the other competencies. You need to study the organization and also study the competitors of the organization. Effective leaders gain competence and expertise and attempt to gain as much knowledge as possible regarding their organization, product, and team members.
Apart from the above-mentioned competencies, leaders should also possess the competencies of agility, speed, passion, and focus to succeed. Such skills, however, cannot be taught. If an organization requires and supports these leadership competencies as a basis of its success, they must be instilled through an embedded system of leadership development. The success of such a program is dependent on five crucial factors, which include the –
- Support provided by the Executive Leadership
- Challenging work assignments
- The right people
- The supportive environment of work
- Instead of a course for skills, there should be a Leadership Development System.
Furthermore, if the organization’s top leadership champions the development of the fifth element, this can be the most critical factor. The unwavering support provided by executive leadership can significantly impact the success of the fifth element’s development. In that case, the leaders produced by the system will ensure that the work environment is supportive. It helps to provide work assignments that are challenging for the right people. This will also facilitate the process of building leadership teams that are strong throughout the organization. Research has also revealed that the teams produced via an embedded system in an organization hold the key to the business’s long-term success.
The “right” Chief Executive will not be able to solve all the organizational problems. Therefore, the leadership competencies of a winning organization that can stand the test of time go far beyond the organization’s Chief Executive. It extends to the leadership team and the procedures, structures, and systems they put in place. Over some time, it is the organizational systems and the broad leadership of an organization that is crucial, particularly in periods that involve high expectations and stress.