16 Competencies Guaranteed to Deliver Results
One in three leaders has no outstanding strength. If you have one extraordinary strength you are in the 64th percentile of over 200,000 leaders.
Competency delivers results.
Extraordinary leaders display and leverage at least one extraordinary strength.
John Zenger, author and CEO of Zenger|Folkman, spoke with me about strength-based leadership. He explained that research based on over 200,000 360-degree assessments indicate that effective leaders possess one or more of 16 potent leadership competencies.
Great outcomes are connected to 16 leadership competencies that span five categories:
- Displays honesty and Integrity
- Exhibits technical/professional expertise
- Solves problems and analyzes issues
- Practices self-development
- Focuses on results
- Establishes stretch goals
- Takes initiative
- Communicates powerfully and broadly
- Inspires and motivates others
- Builds relationships
- Develops others
- Collaborates and fosters teamwork
- Develops strategic perspective
- Champions change
- Connects the group to the outside world
Leaders with 5 outstanding strengths are in the 91st percentile; Leaders with no outstanding strengths are in the 34th. The good news is you can move from the 34th percentile to the 64th percentile by developing one extraordinary strength.
My first response to their research is I’m not as good as I imagined. My second response is how can I get better?
Zenger explained an innovative path to developing strengths that I’d never heard or considered. Tune in tomorrow for more of my conversation with John Zenger and learn how to strengthen your strengths.
The chart to the left is published in October’s Harvard Business Review.
Effective leadership is more about the way others perceive you than the way you perceive yourself. With that in mind, what extraordinary strengths do your colleagues, co-workers, or direct reports think you have? How are you leveraging your competencies to deliver results?
Part two of my conversation with John Zenger: “How to Magnify the Impact of Your Strengths”
Dan, most of these 16 are learnable (I’d question whether you can learn honesty and integrity) so that puts our leadership ability firmly in our own hands. I like that. And I agree that a strength that is not percieved by peers and subordinates is no strength at all, so those perceptions are key.
There are a few things on this list I believe my co-workers percieve me to have, which is encouraging. I have maybe the opposite problem: I don’t give myself as much credit as they do. Excepting honesty and integrity, I need to work on every item on this list.
Thanks for starting today’s conversation. I agree 100% that leadership competencies are learnable. If not, lets close up shop and go home or drift where we are.
I wonder if honesty/integrity is learnable? Even at it’s most basic, telling the truth, I learned to do that when I was a kid caught in a lie.
Also, Zenger points to 8 “competency companions” that leaders can learn that strengthen the strength of honesty/integrity…but more on that tomorrow.
Thank you for your generosity. Generosity is a good strength, right?
Have a great week,
Greg is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. He blogs at: http://hippocketleader.blogspot.com/
Dan, you’re probably right that honesty and integrity as behaviors can probably be learned. I was thinking in terms of base values; I think once people decide it’s OK to dissemble if it’s to their advantage, it becomes a case of teaching them it’s not to their advantage rather than an internal value that says it’s bad.
I don’t think anyone can learn honesty and integrity… You are either born and raised with it, or you’re not…
Dan & Greg,
Touching on your assertion that leadership competencies are able to be learned, perhaps the “desire to learn” is one trait that truly identifies a top-tier leader. Do you agree?
Great point, Brian. I worked for a general once who always said, “Leader are readers.” What he meant was they never stop learning. So yes, I agree.
I think desire to learn fits under the broader umbrella of Practices Self-development.
Thanks for joining in,
I most certainly agree with you and with Greg’s reactions. They are learnable, should that individual actually choose to try to learn something new.
Dave Barry said, “You can only be young once. But you can always be immature.”
• The average tenure of CEOs has dropped to a new low level of 2-3 years with burnout tendency now at 85%,
• An average of 83% of employees are NOT engaged with their work and the problem isn’t getting better;
• 1/3- 1/2 are seeking employment elsewhere with the price-tag on these two issues alone reaching billions of dollars;
Yeah, one would think that a bit of perspective on some of these issues would garner people’s attention. But go figure… Maybe the outrageous salaries and compensation packages lead to The God Syndrome or some such other framework where admitting that there are opportunities for improvement is an admission that they are not deserving of the money.
Wonder what a survey of “Why don’t you get some Leadership Skills?” might turn up… Too busy?
Sure is fun out there in the real world.
Love the Dave Barry quote, just wish I didn’t prove it so often!
Those are sobering statistics – thanks for sharing them. I suspect that if we could get a survey out, most leaders would say they do get or have most leadership skills. That’s why we need to use the perceptions of others as the scorecard.
Thanks for a useful and challenging comment.
“Too busy” is code for NOT IMPORTANT and that’s a problem.
Best to you,
Scott – Can you please share with us the source of your statistics?
Those particular stats came from a flyer from Dtr. John Keenan and his Institute for Leadership and Global Education. I have seen most of them before and could probably dig out the references somewhere — John gets some of that stuff from me… I tend to be the quote / stat hound.
The engagement is probably either Gallup or Blessing White or Towers Perrin. All three have similar stuff out there.
I actually tried to find the stats on the numbers of people ready – right now – to quit their companies for a comparable job elsewhere. It is on the order of 70%.
There are a ton of numbers out there, most of which would be really depressing if one actually tried to work in American these days… The ones that have jobs are now being “job-enlarged” — that is quite different than the old motivating job enrichment of yesteryear… This is not your father’s workplace — well, maybe it is if he cannot affort to retire because his pension got stolen in one of many different ways.
I read once that Ronald Reagan claimed that he created more jobs than any president in history. He did, actually. More people had to take two jobs during his presidency then under any other president until George W. I wonder how many decades it will take to get out from under his leadership and restore the country to what it could have been.
Bush wanted to restore it to what it once was — a land mass covered with a one-mile thick sheet of ice. It seems like we are headed in the opposite direction — he never said anything about massive coastal flooding…
Got surf? Get a surfboard.
Dan, these may be great characteristics of effective managers of teams and of individual performers – especially the latter. But what distinguishes a top leader is the ability to draw the best out of people. I don’t see anything here that will excite the passion of the team, stimulate its imagination, contribution and innovation, or make people ache to follow you.
Great call. Zenger and his co-authors place skills like “inspires and motivates others as “competency companions” of:
Establishes Stretch Goals
Communicates Powerfully and Broadly
Collaborates and Fosters Teamwork
I wan’t able to bring out all their ideas on this post. The HBR article is an excellent read.
I’ll add more tomorrow.
Dan, long time. It is hard to argue against any of these 16 competencies, the trick is exhibiting them when the time presents itself. In the competency research and training I have done over the years, it is always surprising how unique competencies are in each organization. The key is knowing which competencies work in your organization. Don’t assume all of these 16 apply to leaders in all organizations.
Great seeing you today. Seeing you makes this dreary day in PA seem brighter. I bet it’s bright where you are.
Thanks for adding the situational component to this discussion of competencies. Great addition.
Being able to swim and snorkel doesn’t do much good in the dessert. You need wide feet and the ability to hold water. 🙂
Best Regards to you,
Can we fast forward to tomorrow to learn how to strengthen our strengths? 🙂
This 16-item list is a bit overwhelming but it does cover some very important characteristics of effective leaders.
You asked how we are leveraging our competencies to achieve results. This is an area of challenge to me currently (to be honest). Sometimes there is not an organizational “place” that is vacant that is in need of your best skills … and that leads to a decision point for all involved. I would think one of the challenges of leading effectively is being able to assess people’s strengths in order to use them the most effectively. I suppose that is a mashup of the interpersonal strength “develops others” and the leading change strength “develops strategic perspective.”
Strength based focus? Things to google include “Strengths Finter” and “First Break All the Rules”
I think one of the things you can often find is that people ARE using their strengths and tending to even OVER use them.
Detail-oriented people can become nit-picky.
Driven people can become overbearing.
Innovative / Creative people can become unfocused
and so on.
What we need is balance and breadth along with behavioral flexibility to see the opportunity to use the right strength / competency at the right time. Seems like best bosses do that best.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to leadership, it seems.
I agree that leadership is more about the way others perceive you than the way you perceive yourself. Additionally it depends more on the kind of people and surrounding you are in. When you are in the environment where people believe more in vacuous and superfluous appearance then they will perceive you negatively. Opposite is also true, mask layered person will be perceived negatively in authentic environment. I would like to honesty admit that I possess the top five qualities. I am happy to share with you. I am happier to know that I come under 91st percentile. However, I would rather focus to strengthen others criteria to increase my percentile without diluting top five. I believe that personal competencies are more powerful and sustainable qualities than desired by organisations. Personal qualities are core and external forces influence our core. So, there are process of layering and de-layering knowledge on core. Stronger the core, higher the expected outcomes and vice versa.
I believe that honesty, integrity and ethics are the greatest attribute of any ordinary person to become successful leaders. And almost all successful leaders, whom we remember today, possess these qualities.
“Effective leadership is more about the way others perceive you than the way you perceive yourself.” I think that true leaders are aware of those perceptions and work very hard to develop the skills that will enhance the perceptions of others. In so doing they increase their leadership skills and gain confidence in themselves.
i’m excited to learn more about how to strengthen my strengths.
Not to nit pick too much…
Under ‘Interpersonal Skills’ if you are prioritizing and put ‘Builds Relationships’ first, that drives the others well. Also, would suggest based on Norman’s remarks, if you are building deep relationships, you are inspiring, stimulating, and engaging others which are the measures of a top leader.
As far the ‘Leading Change’ components, ‘champions change’ might be champions positive change. We all have seen leadership champion change for covert reasons or even ‘flavor of the month’, which may not be positive for a culture. Positive change can engage on many levels.
And Dan, while the column and comments were very uplifting, how sad that 34% have no chops…and probably limited awareness that they don’t.
I’ve been enjoying and learning from your blog over the past couple months. It is a great way to keep me thinking and reflecting in order to continually improving my leadership skills.
I had never heard of “stretch goals” before, and did a little research. I just wanted to share the link that helped me understand stretch goals better. http://tinyurl.com/6hnqjue It is an article titled: Stretch Goals Can Lead to Breakthrough Thinking!
Thanks again for your prolific blogging on the subject of leadership.
THINKING — ah there is a great concept for leadership and personal improvement.
Disengaging and perceiving are useful skills, as a desk if very often a most dangerous place from which to view the world. Ideas are good, but not ALL ideas are good.
I use a cartoon of a leader who has implemented a triangular wheel to replace a square one on a wagon loaded with round rubber tires. The names of the cartoon are,
— the cost of human capital
— triangular wheel replacing Square Wheel® equals 25% cost reduction
and, most dangerously,
— one less bump per revolution.
Leaders simply implementing change can create all kinds of misfortunes in good organizations unless they consider, listen and think. Measures can be deceiving…
What a lively discussion I helped to provoke. I enjoyed all the comments and was struck by those who wonder about learning or developing greater “honesty and integrity.”
There are those who believe “honesty and integrity” is an on-off switch, but I think it is a knob that we turn up and down and that we can learn what it means in different circumstances. Years ago I was involved in taking a company public. My eyes were opened by our lawyers about the meaning of disclosure. Their level of wanting to disclose potential problems and every contingency imaginable far exceeded my prior assumptions. They raised the bar for me.
Did this change my fundamental beliefs about the need to be honest? Not exactly, but it taught me what that meant in a new and different circumstance.
Yes indeed, great conversation. I appreciate your work. The HBR article really helped me.
Great post. I really like this one. What a great road map for leadership development!
Dan is great for throwing mud at the wire fence.
None of us is sure what will stick where, but if we throw enough mud, patterns will emerge. And issues and ideas will stand out.
I too like this discussion and hope that my chirping in (in my oftentimes irreverent and hopefully seldomly irrelevant way) might contribute a little.
Advice for leadership: “Expect some rain.”
And have fun out there!
Thanks for extending the conversation. I appreciate it… reverent or irreverent. 🙂