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How do I…identify the right leaders to drive the right results?

January 21, 2014

By Charley Morrow

Understanding employee effectiveness in today’s workforce is not easy to do. In low-skill positions, job tasks may be fairly well-defined and limited in scope, making it easy to measure the worker on a task basis. But today’s knowledge workers don’t perform a finite list of discrete tasks. Imagine trying to create an accurate and exhaustive list of tasks performed by a global channel marketing manager for a Fortune 100 company. Or a lead programmer at an enterprise software vendor. Or an R&D director at a pharmaceutical company.

Competency models are key to helping organizations recruit, hire, and evaluate leaders. 

Competencies are the human capabilities that enable leaders to succeed, and the best competency models are built on behaviors that can be seen and understood. Many organizations have built a core competency model or enterprise competency model to describe the behaviors needed to perform effectively within the organization. The model outlines the behavioral or leadership styles that company employees—or subgroups within the organization, such as managers—should exhibit in order to be successful.

In short, an organization’s competency model ensures that leader behaviors align with organizational needs.

competencyThe key point is that the competencies must match the needs of the organization or you will be recruiting, hiring, and evaluating against the wrong behaviors.

For example, collaboration might be a key competency at an organization where integrated products are central to the company’s success, while innovation might be more important in a fast-paced technology company.

Consider a typical competency: develops networks across divisions. The behaviors associated with networking describe an expectation that employees exchange ideas and information with other divisions. Ultimately, adopting this competency would reduce the silo-ism that is a problem in many organizations.

But, there are some caveats.

As with any model, it is a useful tool but only when used appropriately. There is, however, the potential to over-generalize the importance of a competency. For example, decisiveness is a competency that appears in many models. And while it’s true that managers who postpone or avoid making decisions are ineffective, it’s also true that managers who make decisions too quickly squelch innovation and creativity. In this particular case, decisiveness can lead to suboptimal decisions.

What competencies are important to your organization and how are they unique? Are they being measured formally or informally? Share in the comments below.

Morrow_Charley_2Charley Morrow is Vice President of Assessments at Linkage. He has over 20 years of experience designing, implementing, and evaluating training, individual assessment, and organizational-transformation interventions. He’s also an expert in developing assessments and methodologies for individual, team, and organizational motivation and performance. Follow him on Twitter @CharleyMorrow.



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