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How to Develop Leadership Competencies

Leadership Competencies

Leadership behaviors as well as skills which contribute to superior performance are known as the Leadership competencies. The organisations can assist in the identification and development of the leaders of the next generation by the adoption of an approach to leadership that is competency based. Researchers from around the world have identified certain essential competencies for leadership. Apart from these, the future strategies and trends of the business also needs to drive the development of leadership competencies that are new. Even though some of the leadership competencies are vital for every organisation, 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 mangers are all concerned with the development of the competencies that are required to help them in becoming more effective leaders. Over 100 years of research on leadership have identified and outlined the successful abilities and skills which are associated with the effectiveness of leadership.

Leadership Competencies

Better leadership is promoted by focusing on skill development and leadership competencies. However, the skills that are required for a certain position might change as it is dependent on the specific level of leadership in that organization. The use of the competency approach will help the organisations in determining the specific competencies that are required for different positions at different levels in a particular organisation. Certain vital leadership competencies have been identified by the “Centre for Creative Leadership” and these are consistent throughout the organisations. According to them, the overall structure is divided into competencies that are needed for leading the organization, leading other people in the organization and for leading the self.

When the HR professionals select and develop leaders, they need to give consideration to the competencies that are possessed by the individual and then compare them with the competencies that are required for further development to be able to achieve success in the role of leadership. Thus, by looking at the current capabilities of the person and comparing them to the skills and competencies that are essential for the position of leadership, the organisations will be able to make decisions in the hiring, development and promotion of leaders in a better way.Some of the top leadership competencies and the way in which they can be developed are given below.

Leadership Competencies and How to Develop Them

  1. Social Intelligence (SI)

Si is among the best predictors as far as effective leadership is concerned. However, the research on it is poor and it is also not very well-understood. Social intelligence is very wide but it can be viewed best with respect to the understanding of social situations as well as dynamics and the ability to be able to operate in an efficient way in a number of social situations. As per the research conducted social intelligence, which is described as the sensitivity to social situations, “constellation of social performance” and skills of role playing are very crucial for effective leadership.

How to develop social intelligence?

You need to expose yourself to different types of people, different kinds of social situations along with the work for the development of social perceptiveness and also the ability of engaging other people in a conversation.

  1. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills might be viewed as a “subset of social intelligence”. However, they form an aspect of social effectiveness that is more relationship-oriented. The soft skills of leadership that is often spoken about are represented in the best way by the interpersonal skills.

How to develop interpersonal skills?

For the development of interpersonal skills, first of all you need to become an active listener, then you need to work on speaking and conversational skills. You can even join networking groups and toastmasters for this purpose and also work on the personal relationships that you share with your relatives, friends or with the significant other. Such types of skills generalise to relationships in the workplace.

  1. Emotional Intelligence / Skills (EI)

Emotional intelligence is a complement to social intelligence and is the ability of the individual to be able to communicate at a level that is emotional, be able to have an understanding of emotional situations and emotions and also stay in tune with emotions that are our own. These are related especially to the leadership “charisma”.

How to develop Emotional Intelligence?

For developing emotional intelligence you need to practice reading the nonverbal cues of others especially the cues that are related to emotions. You can need to learn to have a control over your emotions as well as your emotional outbursts. You need to practice the way to express your feelings and become an “actor” who is emotionally very effective and learn the way to express your emotions in an appropriate way.

  1. Prudence

It is among the cardinal virtues of Aristotle. It is a synonym of wisdom and is the ability of being able to understand the perspectives of others by being open and considering the viewpoint of the others.

How to develop Prudence?

For the purpose of developing prudence, you need to listen to others. You have to work towards being more broad minded and also more open minded. You have to learn to ask for the views and opinions of others and take them into consideration when choosing a particular course of action.

  1. Courage

Fortitude or courage is another cardinal virtue. This includes the courage of taking calculated risks along with the courage of standing up for what you believe in and doing the things that are right.

How to develop courage?

Some degree of effort is required for this. However, its roots lie in the development as well as the holding of personal values that are strong. In case you value someone or something very truly, you will possess the courage of standing up by your principles as well as by your people.

  1. Conflict Management

This is an interpersonal skill of a “higher order” which helps assisting your colleagues for either avoiding or resolving the conflicts of interpersonal nature. When the members of an organisation are in conflict with each other, the leaders are generally called upon for the purpose of adjudicating. However, the ability to either avoid or to resolve the situations of conflict that are your own are also involved in this.

How to develop Conflict Management Skills?

Courses as well as workshops are available for the purpose of assisting you in understanding and learning the strategies of conflict management. A vital aspect of conflict management is to help the parties involved in the conflict to compromise (wherein each party should be having the flexibility of giving up something) or to collaborate (a win-win outcome).

  1. Decision Making

The ability of making good decisions or to lead a process of good decision making is among the core competencies of the leaders. The ways of making decisions can be better or worse but the good leader knows when the decision has to be made, when the peers and subordinates have to be consulted and brought into the process of decision making and when the time is right for taking a step back and allow others to make decisions.

How to develop decision making skills?

The best way of honing the skills of decision making is experience along with the study of the situations where the decisions have gone wrong or have gone right. It has been seen that people learn more often from the mistakes that they have committed rather from the success that they have achieved.

  1. Political Skills

It is a fact that all the organisations or groups at their core are full of politics. In order to move ahead people attempt to gain allies, break rules and push forward their personal agendas. A leader who is effective is also a good player politically and has knowledge regarding the rules that need to be followed for playing the game and is also able to manage political behaviour in order to prevent it from resulting in the dysfunction of the group or the organisation.

How to develop Political Competencies?

In the same way as several of the other leadership competencies that are highly developed, the political skills are acquired by means of learning as a result of experience and also the learning that is related to social dynamics and about people.

  1. Influence Skills

Leadership, at its core is all about influencing the behaviour of other people. Therefore, a great leader is someone who is a master of social influence and has the ability to wield power in a fair and effective way. You can become all the more influential in the role of leadership if you have the ability to call on your interpersonal or soft skills.

How to develop Influence Skills?

Reasoned as well as well-thought out arguments can be made if you have been trained in debating. Viewing the things from the perspective of the other person may assist you in understanding what are the things expected by them from a negotiation and this will let you focus on a situation that I win-win.

  1. Area Competence / Expertise

Most of the people would put in at the first position in the list, however, in today’s age, the significance of knowledge in every aspect of the job is less important than what it used to be earlier. In creative firms or high-tech industries, the team members might be possessing knowledge that is more relevant and also more expertise in comparison to the leaders. Still, it is vital that the expertise in particular situations, industries or organisations where they are in leadership roles are developed by the leaders.

How to develop Area Competencies?

Development is a process which is lifelong, similar to all the other competencies. Leaders who are effective gain their competence and expertise and attempt to gain as much knowledge as they can regarding their organization, product and also the members of their team. You need to study the organization and also study the competitors of the organization.

Apart from the above mentioned competencies the leaders should also possess the competencies of agility, speed, passion and focus in order to be successful. Such skills however cannot be taught and if an organization requires as well as supports these competencies as a basis of its success, they have to be instilled by means of an imbedded system of leadership development. Success of such a program is dependent on five crucial factors which include –

  • Support that is provided by the Executive Leadership
  • Work assignments that are challenging
  • The right people
  • Supportive environment of work
  • Instead of a course of skills, there should be a Leadership Development System.

The factor that is the most critical is the unwavering support that can be provided by the Executive Leadership of the organisation. If the development of the fifth element is championed by the top leadership of the organization, the leaders produced by the system will make sure that the work environment is supportive which helps to provide work assignments that are challenging for the right people. This will also facilitate the process of building the leadership teams that are strong throughout the organization. Research has also revealed that the teams that which are produced via an embedded system in an organization hold the key to the sustained success of the business in the long term.

Contrary to the belief that popularly exists, no white knight is there. This means that the “right” Chief Executive will not be able to solve all the organizational problems. Therefore, in reality, the requirements of leadership of a winning organization which is able to stand the test of time go far beyond the organization’s Chief Executive. It extends to the leadership team along with the procedures, structures and systems that are put in place by them. Over a period of time, it is the organizational systems as well as the broad leadership of an organization that are crucial particularly in the periods that involve high levels of expectations and stress.

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How to Develop Leadership Competencies


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