Integrative Improvement Blog

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Do you have the right mix of leadership competencies?

Do you have the right mix of leadership competencies?

If engaging your employees in ways that motivate and empower them sounds like a lot of work just for the privilege of giving someone a salary, remember that an inspired workforce is your best sales tool. Plus it is the only way to attract and retain talent.

Employees with positive feelings towards their jobs work harder, are more innovative, healthier and a lower risk to your business. The ability to lead and manage human development initiatives is therefore a core competence of leadership. But change will not occur without the focused and concerted effort of leaders who not only believe in the change, but are also equipped with the competencies to deliver the required outcome.

Highly successful organisations are generally led by visionary, enthusiastic champions who display visible, actual and unmistakable behaviours. These behaviours generally combine the more visionary ‘big picture’ competencies, such as leading, inspiring, motivating and empowering, with elements of the traditional management functions of planning, organising and controlling.

Only a few leaders will have all these competencies in equal proportions — they will tend to gravitate towards the traditional management functions on the one hand, or the more visionary competencies on the other. The important point is that both sets of competencies are critical and each leader constantly needs to increase their own capabilities.

Core competencies

Core leadership competencies are made up of knowledge, skills and attributes that contribute to effective leadership and — in a business context — to superior organisational performance. While there is a fair degree of consensus in the literature on what these competencies might be, they are not fixed. As the business environment changes, so too will the core competencies that are required by leaders in the business context.

One advantage of applying a competency approach to leadership development is that it lends itself to requiring core leadership competencies in different ratios and proportions, depending on the level of leadership under consideration. In broad terms, a more senior leader will require more of visioning and strategy competency than a supervisor or middle manager, while the latter will require more competence in terms of execution.

Specific competencies

Every organisation will have certain context-specific leadership requirements. Continuous innovation competencies will be critical in any end-customer IT-driven organisation, while in a manufacturing organisation innovation might be relevant but various forms of measurement and problem-solving might be far more important at leadership level.

Going further, specific leadership competencies will also be driven by organisational strategies — where these are, for example, externally focused and growth-driven, global connectivity competency might be critical, whereas these might be of less importance where a locally-driven agenda is being pursued.

Specific future trends might also impact the mix of competencies selected — the broad competency framework would generally pick up on broad business trends, but trends and future developments which are industry and sector specific would need to be picked up by individual organisations or by their associations. An example here might be the textile industry where textile manufacturing in many countries is giving way to sourcing and vendor management requirements as textile manufacturing itself moves to the East.

Global leadership competencies

According to one survey of senior executives, 76 percent believe their organisations need to develop global leadership capabilities, but only 7 percent think they are currently doing so effectively. And some 30 percent of US companies admit that they have failed to exploit their international business opportunities fully because of insufficient internationally competent personnel.

leadership_competenciesIn addition to essential leadership competencies, global leaders face special challenges that require additional competencies. To clarify, a global leader is commonly defined as someone that cultivates business in a foreign market, sets business strategy at a global level and manages globally diverse and diffused teams. According to a conference board research report, 73 percent of managers agree that domestic business leadership and global leadership differ in the skills required. Some of the challenges that global leaders may face are managing a diverse group of employees and business processes; adaptively approaching problems and challenges; adjusting to new values and cultures; and adapting to different types of business and personal stressors.

To address the unique challenges of global leaders, researchers have identified global leadership competencies that can contribute to success. Among these competencies, developing a global mindset, cross-cultural communication skills and respecting cultural diversity are paramount to succeeding in the global workplace.

Where a sound mix between generic and specific leadership competencies are achieved these competencies can, in addition to development, also be used as a basis for recruitment, selection and promotions in the organisation. This can also unleash the potential of your middle managers to improve morale, foster collaboration, and help the organisation respond to changing market conditions more quickly and efficiently, and seize strategic opportunities.

And when these middle managers thrive, they will fill the leadership pipeline and give organisations their next crop of seasoned leaders ready to take the reins to guide their companies toward future success.

The TRACC framework helps organisations build standardised and integrated good practice and performance capacity across their Plan, Source, Make and Deliver functions. Simultaneously it accelerates their collaboration and alignment capacity to build world class end-to-end value chains, enabling the organisation itself to become the ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage.
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