Competencies of People in Leadership Positions

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A leader is someone who has the ability to influence others. They have an innate desire to help other people achieve their goals. Leaders can be found at all levels of an organization. Some leaders may be elected by the employees, while others may be appointed by management. Regardless of how they get promoted, leaders must possess certain qualities.

KEY Takeaways

  • Leading is a process of influencing others, which starts with self-awareness and ends with empathy.
  • There are three main categories of leadership skills: self, organization, and people.
  • Most people assume that leadership comes naturally to everyone. However, there are specific traits that define effective leaders.


Typical roles and competencies of leaders are grouped into three broad categories:

1. Competencies related to "Self":

  • Integrity / Honesty: A person with integrity does what they say that s/he will do. It means doing the right thing even when no one else is looking. This includes honesty, fairness, and respect for others.
  • Courage: Leaders dare to make hard decisions.
  • Clear Communication: Clear communication is essential for leaders because it helps them understand their followers' needs and desires. Without clear communication, a leader cannot effectively lead.
  • Flexibility: Leaders are able to correct or change the plan based on the current situation.
  • Creative/ Innovative: Creativity is not just about coming up with new ideas; it also involves being willing to adapt existing ideas and concepts into something different than what was originally intended.

2. Competencies related to "Organization":

  • Create a vision: Leaders set the direction for the team. They create a vision for where the company wants to go. When creating this vision, leaders should consider the long-term future of the business as well as its short-term goals.
  • Team building:  Leaders build teams.
  • Negotiation: Leaders need to negotiate with other people to reach common ground. They should be good listeners so they can hear both sides of the argument. 
  • Decision making: The best decision-makers are those who make decisions quickly but carefully. They weigh all options before choosing. 
  • Strategic Thinking: Leaders think strategically for the long-term outcomes rather than looking for quick or short-term returns.

3. Competencies related to "People":

  • Coaching: Leaders help employees develop through coaching and mentoring.
  • Conflict Management: Leaders resolve conflicts by listening, understanding, and empathizing. They encourage others to talk things out so they can come to an agreement.
  • Developing others: Leaders develop the team members to achieve bigger goals.
  • Motivation: Leaders motivate others by helping them overcome obstacles and challenges. They give positive feedback to motivate others.
  • Influencing: Leaders influence others by convincing them of the importance of something or someone. They persuade others to support their views or actions.



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