Career Development

8 Key Leadership Competencies

December 3, 2020

Good leadership is an integral part of every industry. Showing that you are a competent leader in your field can make you a valuable asset to your entire team. If you want to become a leader in your workplace, or if you want to improve your current leadership skills, consider evaluating your leadership competencies. In this article, we will explore eight leadership competencies that can improve your influence as a leader.

What are leadership competencies?

Leadership competencies are skills and attributes that you can possess which make you a good leader. Your competency in—or ability to show—these skills will increase the trust and commitment that your team has in you. Effective leaders inspire, encourage and facilitate in order to improve the productivity of their team. The value of a leader is not determined by their own success but by the success of their entire team.

Read more: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

Important leadership competencies to target

Here are eight areas to focus on if you want to become a more competent leader:

Integrity

Leaders are often judged by their character. Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Leaders with integrity prioritize the consistency of their character in both their personal and professional relationships. Leaders who show integrity are honest, humble and reliable. 

Some ideas for improving your integrity may include:

  • Upholding the values and beliefs of your company or organization, even when it is a challenge
  • Admitting your mistakes with an honest and humble attitude
  • Prioritizing honesty in all your professional dealings
  • Making sure all your professional decisions are in line with the values of your employer 
  • Doing everything you can to ensure the well-being of your customers, clients and employees

Read more: Integrity: Definition and Examples

Self-discipline

Many of these competencies require leaders to have the fundamental quality of self-discipline. Leaders act not out of their own interest but out of a concern for others. Leaders carefully consider the possible consequences of their actions instead of making rash decisions. Self-discipline involves controlling any natural tendencies to act out of anger, greed or selfishness.

Possibilities for improving your self-discipline include:

  • Making yourself aware of how your decisions affect others
  • Choosing to prioritize the needs of others over yourself
  • Managing your time carefully
  • Using your energy wisely
  • Making a commitment to self-improvement

Read more: Self-Discipline: Definition and Examples

Communication

Interpersonal skills are a must for effective leaders. Leaders are often evaluated by the effect they have on their team’s productivity. The key to improving productivity in the workplace is often clear and open channels of communication. Leaders are willing to share their ideas and plans with their team. Leaders who share information concisely and efficiently are valuable in any work environment. Often, employees are only able to complete assignments if they have accurate and actionable information. It is a leader’s responsibility to impart instructions and expectations clearly.

An equally important element of good communication is a leader’s ability to listen. Effective leaders are willing to listen to input and ideas from their teammates. Even if you are unable to implement a particular team member’s suggestion, they will still appreciate you taking the time to listen. Team members who see that their opinions and ideas are acknowledged and respected are more willing to trust their leader’s decisions and judgment.

Here are some suggestions for improving your communication skills:

  • Make an effort to ask your colleagues for their opinions and ideas
  • Deliver instructions clearly and thoroughly
  • After sharing information, ask your listeners if they have any questions or concerns
  • Be open to considering others’ points of view
  • Maintain an atmosphere of openness in your workplace
  • Make it clear to your team that their input is valuable to you

Read more: Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

Trustworthiness

Trust is a crucial part of every workplace. Most industries operate based on established trust between employers, employees and consumers. In order to lead a team effectively, you must prove your trustworthiness to your both your superiors and your team members. The more trustworthiness you show, the more opportunities you will have to succeed. Trustworthiness is acquired over time and can only be proven by action. Building trust with everyone in your workplace is an important part of being a competent leader.

Here are some examples of how you can improve your trustworthiness:

  • Endeavor to always meet deadlines and turn in assignments on time
  • Work on delivering reliable and worthwhile results 
  • Always follow through on your promises
  • Be forthcoming about your mistakes
  • Prioritize honesty in your professional relationships and interactions

Teamwork

A valuable quality in a leader is their ability to be a team player. All teams function based on the individual skills of the team members. Good leaders know what each member of their team can contribute to a project. They know their team well enough to recognize their skills and know how to use them. Team players are sometimes called on to make personal sacrifices in order to improve the overall productivity of the team. Exhibiting teamwork means prioritizing the good of the group over personal gain.

Possibilities for how to improve your competency in teamwork include:

  • Familiarize yourself with your team members’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Volunteer to contribute to group projects or tasks
  • Be willing to support your team in a new capacity
  • Be willing to adapt or change your point of view
  • Give others the chance to excel and show their skills

Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definitions and Examples

Conflict management

Conflict of some sort is virtually unavoidable in the workplace. Competent leaders know how to manage and reduce conflict in order to preserve a pleasant and productive work environment. Conflict management is an important skill to utilize in both large and small workplaces. Cooperation is the first step in any group project. If conflict arises between individuals or between teams, the atmosphere and productivity of the entire workplace is often affected. A leader who can act as a mediator—or listen to both sides of a disagreement—is capable of dissolving the tension and reviving the cooperation of their team. Negotiation, compromise and tact are valuable skills in conflict management.

Here are some suggestions for how you can work on your conflict management skills:

  • Learn to sense tension in your workplace
  • Make sure your coworkers or employees know they are welcome to come to you directly with any complaints or dissatisfactions
  • Practice tact when offering advice or input on a situation
  • Research negotiation skills or seek out opportunities to observe them in action

Problem-solving

Leaders must use their creativity and practical experience to solve problems that arise in the workplace. For many leaders, the opportunity to lead comes with a certain amount of responsibility. When roadblocks appear, competent leaders draw on their resources to find actionable solutions. Problem-solving skills can be gained from practical work experience. Part of problem-solving is knowing the ins and outs of your career field. Combine your knowledge of your job, your practical experience and creative thinking to solve problems in your workplace.

Some ideas for improving your problem-solving skills include:

  • Studying the details of how your job, workplace and industry function
  • Seeking advice from senior professionals in your workplace
  • Researching logical thinking skills and how to implement them in your workplace
  • Learning from any mistakes you might make while gaining experience

Initiative

It should come as no surprise that part of being a good leader is the ability to take the lead. Competent leaders see a need and take the steps necessary to fill it. Leaders do not always wait to be asked before agreeing to manage or contribute to a task. Leaders focus their energy on getting important projects off to a good start. This may include doing the research, assembling the team and forming the plan of action. Competent leaders use their initiative and innovation to produce valuable results.

Here are some options for how you can show initiative:

  • Look for needs in your workplace and think about how you might be able to meet them
  • Volunteer to solve an inconvenience or inefficiency in your workplace
  • Go above and beyond the minimum requirements of a task whenever appropriate
  • Take it upon yourself to do the necessary research before pitching an idea
  • Tackle any problems that might appear with your methods or plans instead of expecting someone else to solve them

Learning to become a more competent leader is an admirable aspiration for anyone who hopes to be a positive influence in their workplace. A good leader can make all the difference for a company or organization. Competent leaders increase productivity, improve workplace morale and inspire their team. Making an effort to improve your skills in the areas discussed in this article can help you become a more competent and efficient leader.

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