Integrating a Leadership Competency Framework

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Integrating a Leadership Competency Framework

Excellence in an organization often starts from the top down. If your leaders including managers, board members, CEO, and other top staff are not behaving in a way that benefits the organization, you cannot expect the rest of the workforce to do so without them. Leadership competency frameworks allow you integrate new competency standards from the top up, first integrating and adjusting leadership and then onboarding the workforce.

While it is important that leadership competency frameworks never become standalone or separate from the competency framework as a whole, integrating or introducing competencies for leaders first gives you the ability to introduce and streamline the process where it matters most – the people guiding the rest of your workforce.

Providing Training

A leadership competency framework will give leaders a template for their own behavior, showing what is effective and what isn’t inside of a role. However, making the switch to new management styles often isn’t easy. Providing training and learning opportunities gives everyone the ability to adapt and learn new things. This, in turn, gives those who won’t succeed well with the new model the opportunity to recognize where they have to change in order to keep up.

Clearly Communicating What is Expected

Many organizations attempt to be ambiguous about what is expected from competency frameworks, simply because information can be translated in many different ways. While it’s true that allowing individuals to interpret competencies in ways that apply specifically to their situations can be valuable, this can backfire. By taking the time to identify and clarify points of confusion you ensure adoption and understanding. Offer clear examples of what good behavior is so that leaders know what is expected of them. Using behavioral statements as well as anecdotes, studies, and even case-studies of behavior inside the organizations can be extremely helpful for conveying a point. For example, if you can say “remember when X employee did this and achieved Y? What if X employee had done Z instead, a behavior that many of you do every day… would Y have still been achieved?”

  • Link expected behavior to outcomes and production
  • Make sure leaders understand why competencies exist. What’s the end-value?
  • Provide examples that fit your work culture and environment
  • Ask leaders to come up with their own examples to ensure understanding

Define Where and How Competencies Are Used

Leaders will eventually use competency frameworks to assess candidates for hire, for managing performance, for professional development, and for career planning for their workers. It’s crucial that they understand this and how those factors affect them and their own careers before they begin to use it.

For example, a common misunderstanding is that competency frameworks only come into play during end-of-year review. However, a good competency framework integrates into daily behavior, individual task management, and in guiding employees on how they should perform their job.

Introducing any new performance measurement tool will be met with resistance, even from leadership. The best path to success is to ensure that everyone involved has the information to see what it’s for, how it works, and what it will do. Providing adequate training and information also ensures everyone has the opportunity to get onboard.


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