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The 5 Competencies of Highly Effective Leaders: Insights from Global Organizations


As we all know, being an effective leader is not just about getting results but also about creating a positive and successful work environment. But what exactly are the competencies that make a great leader? According to a recent study of 195 leaders from more than 30 global organizations, there are five major themes of competencies that strong leaders exhibit.


In this article, I will explore these competencies and provide some insights on how to develop them.


Global Research on Leadership Competencies


Research conducted over the past few decades has shown that the most important leadership qualities are centered around soft skills and emotional intelligence. As we all know, being a successful leader is not just about getting results, but about building relationships, inspiring and motivating others and creating a positive and safe environment for everyone to grow.


But what exactly are the competencies that make a great leader? According to a recent study of 195 leaders from more than 30 global organizations, five major themes of competencies that strong leaders exhibit have been identified.


The first of these competencies is high ethical standards and providing a safe environment. As leaders, it is our responsibility to set the tone for our organizations and ensure that our employees feel safe and secure. Our ethical standards must be high, and we must lead by example. This will help build trust and create a positive work environment for everyone.


The second competency is empowering individuals to self-organize. As leaders, it is not our job to micromanage our employees but to empower them to take ownership of their work. We must provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed and then step back and let them do their job. This will help build a sense of autonomy and accountability among our employees, which will ultimately lead to better results.


The third competency is promoting connection and belonging among employees. As leaders, we must recognize that our employees are not just cogs in a machine but human beings with emotions and needs. We must create an environment where everyone feels valued and included, regardless of their background or experience. This will help build a sense of community and belonging, which will ultimately lead to a more engaged and productive workforce.


The fourth competency is being open to new ideas and experimentation. As leaders, we must be willing to take risks and try new things. We must be open to feedback and willing to change course if something is not working. This will help foster a culture of innovation and creativity, which will ultimately lead to better results and a more dynamic organization.


The fifth and final competency is being committed to the professional and intellectual growth of employees. As leaders, we must recognize that our employees are our most valuable asset. We must invest in their development and provide them with opportunities to learn and grow. This will not only help our employees achieve their full potential but will also benefit our organization in the long run.


While these competencies may seem obvious, they are difficult for leaders to master because they require us to act against our nature. We are not hardwired to relinquish control or be open to small failures. However, the ability to actively improve these competencies should be a priority for leaders if we want to create a positive and successful work environment.

In conclusion, as leaders, we must focus on developing competencies that will help us build trust, empower our employees, create a sense of community, foster innovation, and invest in the growth of our employees. By doing so, we will not only create a positive and successful work environment but will also achieve better results and build a more dynamic and resilient organization.


How Leaders Can Develop These Competencies


Developing these competencies requires a combination of self-reflection, continuous learning and practice.


Firstly, leaders must engage in self-reflection to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This will help them identify areas where they need to improve and where they can leverage their strengths to benefit their organization.


Secondly, leaders should seek out learning opportunities that will help them develop the competencies they need to be effective. This might involve taking courses, attending conferences, reading books or seeking out mentorship and coaching.


Finally, leaders should practice these competencies in their daily work. This means being intentional about creating a positive work environment, empowering employees, building connections and promoting experimentation and growth. Leaders should also seek out feedback from their employees to understand how they can improve and make adjustments as needed.


Ultimately, developing these competencies requires a commitment to personal growth and a willingness to challenge ourselves to be better leaders. But the rewards are worth it - by developing these competencies, we can create a positive and successful work environment that benefits everyone.


Examples of Leaders Who Exhibit These Competencies


There are many leaders who exhibit these competencies in their work. Below are several examples:


  1. Satya Nadella: Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, has been praised for his emphasis on empathy and inclusivity in the workplace, which has helped create a more positive and successful work environment for his employees. He has also been committed to empowering his employees to take ownership of their work and experiment with new ideas, which has led to a more innovative and dynamic organization.

  2. Mary Barra: Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, has been committed to creating a culture of accountability and transparency at GM, which has helped build trust with her employees and stakeholders. She has also been focused on promoting the professional and intellectual growth of her employees, providing opportunities for development and advancement within the company.

  3. Indra Nooyi: Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. Nooyi was committed to promoting connection and belonging among her employees, recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She was also open to new ideas and experimentation, encouraging her employees to take risks and try new things.

  4. Tim Cook: Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple. Cook has been committed to the professional and intellectual growth of his employees, providing opportunities for development and advancement within the company. He has also been focused on promoting sustainability and social responsibility at Apple, reflecting his high ethical standards and commitment to making a positive impact on the world.


These are just a handful of examples of leaders who exhibit these competencies in their work. By focusing on these competencies, leaders can create a positive and successful work environment that benefits everyone involved.


Conclusion


Being an effective leader requires a combination of hard skills and soft skills, but it is the competencies that make a real difference. By developing competencies such as high ethical standards, empowering individuals, promoting connection and belonging, being open to new ideas and experimentation, and being committed to the professional and intellectual growth of employees, leaders can create a positive and successful work environment that benefits everyone. Developing these competencies takes time and effort, but it is a worthwhile investment in ourselves and our organizations.

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