Competency is a recognized and important part of modern workforce management. Ensuring that leaders have the necessary competencies, rather than simply hard skills, to excel in their position is becoming increasingly crucial, as attention shifts from simply getting teams to do their jobs, to getting teams to efficiently do their jobs.
While necessary competencies can vary depending on a specific role (factors such as job environment, and or who is doing the work do affect requirements) experts agree that the most important leadership competencies include strong ethics, empowering self and others, openness to new ideas, nurturing, and communication.
How do these leadership competency examples play out in a real work situation?
10 examples of leadership competency at play
A leader with strong ethics can a) adhere to strong moral standards, making choices based on an ethical code to follow company procedures and policies, follow the law, and make choices based on empathy. In real-life, a strong ethical code results in leaders who follow the rules, who respect the safety and emotional safety of their employees, and who work to build others up.
This allows a leader to build a safe environment, where employees understand that they will be treated fairly and can therefore trust their leadership.
Empowering Self and Others
Empowerment ties into motivation and direction – giving others the tools and motivation to perform well in their jobs. This directly benefits any organization, because no matter how technically skilled a leader, they are wasting resources if they are trying to do everything themselves.
Teams that understand they will have the tools and resources they need and that are motivated are also more productive and proactive, with more job satisfaction.
What does empowering self and others look like on the job? A leader demonstrating this skill works to allow employees to self-organize, provides insight and guidance where necessary, and works to empower others to do their own work rather than taking it all on themselves. What else? They’re openly working to apply the same standards to themselves.
Openness to New Ideas
Being open to new ideas ties into several leadership competencies. For example, flexibility to change, willingness to learn, providing room for trial and error, and willingness to adapt to new technologies and ideas. This means being open to admitting that you’re wrong, accepting ideas from unlikely sources, identifying and working to correct ‘tunnel-vision’ or an unwillingness to learn or problem solve in employees, and the ability to withhold judgement until hearing or experimenting with all the options.
Why? Taking an active problem-solving approach, whether to technology, tasks, or employees is crucial to adapting to an ever-changing digital world. Building new techniques and options requires a certain “fail fast and forward” mentality, where leaders are encouraged to try new things, test, and allow small failures with rapid feedback and correction – to not only build teamwork and collective knowledge, but also to improve the collective capabilities of the organization.
Workforce management is a valuable part of any organization, and any leader should be able to nurture those under him or her. A leader who is committed to helping employees to do and become their best adds value to the organization by improving the competencies and skills of an employee, by nurturing future leaders, and by building employee loyalty and motivation.
This means that a good leader must be able to mentor and coach, to recognize where people are succeeding and failing, and be able to motivate individuals to improve.
Strong communication skills allow leaders to share often and openly with others and to build teams by creating a sense of connection and belonging. Communicating openly with teams allows members to build a sense of trust, to become friends with each other, and to be more open and honest when they themselves need help.
Teams that communicate well, enjoy each other’s company, and work well together are more productive and have more energy than those who frequently miscommunicate, hold negative emotions towards each other, and otherwise don’t know how to interact on a social level.
Emotional Intelligence implies perceiving, understanding and managing one’s emotions as well as perceiving and understanding the emotions of other people. EQ is related to empathy when a person is well aware of what other people feel.
For the leader, emotional intelligence is a critical competence that heavily impacts the way a leader interacts with the employees. If a leader is able to recognize the employees’ emotions, s/he will be able to timely react to them, prevent conflicts, provide help or assistance. In this way, the team will feel more comfortable and will recognize the leader as a person whom they can always count on.
A good example would be understanding why a particular employee is underperforming. If a leader has high EQ, s/he can recognize whether someone is facing problems and how to deal with it at work. It often happens that leaders mistake difficult life circumstances (i.e. family issues) for laziness or lack of motivation. As a result, both the employees and the company suffer.
Strategic thinking is the driving force behind the company’s growth and development. This competency includes such skills as the ability to analyze the current situation, align the tasks with set goals in order to achieve the required result, management of budget, resources and timeline, the establishment of efficient practices, and much more. And because strategic thinking is aimed at the company’s future growth, it is obligatory that a leader possesses this competency.
Without the ability to strategically think and plan, the leader will not bring value to the company because this is what differentiates an average employee and a leader. An employee usually performs only his own set of tasks without going further than that. A leader, on the other hand, is genuinely interested in contributing to the company’s development and therefore has to face the future and think long-term.
Successful conflict resolution is a valuable skill that any leader should possess. Unfortunately, conflicts at a workplace are inevitable as there are many internal and external factors that cause them. Therefore, a good leader should be able to efficiently manage and resolve conflicts without hurting the work process, a company, or the employees.
Conflict management includes the following skills:
- Ability to see the whole picture
- High EQ
- Ability to efficiently communicate with employees and encourage them to communicate with each other
- No judgment before hearing both parties
A leader usually has double responsibility during the conflict resolution. Not only will his decision affect the company but it will inevitably leave one of the parties dissatisfied with the outcome. Therefore, the primary concern is to minimize the effect of the conflict and strive to create a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
Another critical competency required from any good leader is the decision-making ability. From task assignment to critical decisions that may impact the well-being of a company, a leader should be able to make rational and unbiased decisions that will bring value to the company.
The decision-making competence is comprised of many skills, such as the ability to find, perceive and analyze information, ability to listen and communicate, strategic thinking, ability to conduct thorough research, etc. As well, when making a decision, a leader should always be unbiased, calm and rational, considering all the internal and external factors.
The ability to make wise decisions is critical. For example, a leader can significantly optimize the whole working process simply by assigning the right person to the right task.
Last but not least is the ability to work in a team but this competence consists of several behavioral indicators that help identify a true leader.
Work in a team implies not only the ability to collaborate but also the willingness to display initiative, introduce new and efficient practices and methods in order to optimize the work process, organization and management of tasks and resources. As well, a leader has to keep an eye on the atmosphere in the team and ensure that every team member feels comfortable and there is no tension between the colleagues.
Finally, being part of a team, a leader should be able to take responsibility, recognize and acknowledge the achievements of team members and inspire others by their own example.
Each of these 10 leadership competency examples can greatly affect how a leader is able to perform inside your organization. It also impacts the direct value they drive in their interactions with workforce they are leading.