20 Critical Leadership Competencies

20 Critical Leadership Competencies

Professionals that possess leadership qualities can assist organizations, teams, and initiatives going forward. Delegation, empathy, and decision-making are a few examples. These characteristics are used to identify capable leaders and place qualified individuals in positions of authority.

These abilities resemble leadership traits. These characteristics share many similarities with executive skills, HR skills, and team management abilities. By reading leadership books written by women and engaging in leadership activities, professionals can develop these qualities.

In this article, the following are described in detail:

  • Leadership abilities in communication
  • Soft leadership skills
  • Traits of effective leaders
  • What makes a good leader

What are leadership competencies?

Leadership competencies are the capacity of a leader to effectively use their knowledge, skills, and talents to drive an organization’s performance. Organizations develop these abilities by converting specific talents into workplace behavior that displays the capacity to successfully carry out the job requirements. Examples include strategic planning, data-driven decision-making, and streamlining company procedures.

Related: Leadership competencies: A Complete Guide

20 leadership competencies

1. Emotional quotient

Emotional quotient

The most crucial soft leadership talents are those that deal with emotions. Leaders must be able to use their sound judgment to act correctly in a variety of delicate and stressful situations. Managers can make decisions that benefit the staff by having a clear understanding of what workers may be considering or experiencing in specific circumstances. These managers have a lower propensity to alienate staff and a higher propensity to build stronger relationships with them.

Leaders who can sense people’s emotions and anticipate their reactions can maintain a positive work environment and minimize conflict. Additionally, these managers can respond immediately and alter course mid-conversation, for example, if they observe team members avoiding dialogue or exhibiting reserved body language. These abilities aid in reducing friction among leaders.

2. Relationship building 

Relationship building

One of the most important skills of effective leaders is the ability to ddevelopingA professional should demonstrate an aptitude for getting along with people to advance in the leadership ranks. Leaders work and engage with a wide range of individuals, including the team they oversee, superiors, other managers and partner departments, customers, and vendors. Leaders need to be able to connect and interact with these many groups and individuals to execute their jobs well. Since leaders can only grow their reports through a good rapport and consistent interaction, the relationship between the supervisor and supervisees is particularly crucial.

3. Solving issues

One of the most important aspectcriticalership is problem resolution. The majority of their time is spent putting out fires and finding solutions for clients, the business, and the team. Colleagues turn to leaders for guidance and assistance, and they frequently make the final decision on how to proceed.

These people must be able to think creatively, come up with original ideas, anticipate outcomes, and test theories in low-risk situations. Leaders stand apart from the rest of the workforce because of this trait. Without a formal title, leaders help their employees, brainstorm solutions to problems, and seek to improve processes.

Solving issues

Due to the collaborative nature of modern work, these people also need to be able to address difficulties in groups. With more input comes a wider range of ideas, and a leader should be able to select the finest ones from the group. Instead of immediately resolving every problem that emerges, leaders should understand how to assist teammates in problem-solving. This strategy aids teams in becoming more knowledgeable and independent.

4. Making Decisions

Decision Making

Decisions are often made by leaders. These people frequently make the ultimate decision in difficult situations and frequently have to make a decision based on faulty or insufficient information. These selections frequently affect operations or personnel or entail substantial costs.

Great leaders are competent and confident enough to reach choices swiftly. These managers understand when to wait for additional information, how to get more understanding, how to weigh options, and select the optimal solution.

Excellent decision-makers can anticipate the results and difficulties and can plan for the best and worst-case scenarios. These leaders also know how to convince others to support the strategy and can defend and explain their choices to higher-ups, their teams, and other departments.

5. Persuasion


Managers and leaders differ in their ability to persuade. Leaders inspire team members to believe in and support a vision, whereas managers only persuade them to follow orders. The ability of leaders to communicate the significance of a mission is crucial. It takes persuasiveness to persuade coworkers to support a cause. Excellent team leaders can convey the significance of the task and inspire confidence in both themselves and their abilities. Influence arouses emotion. The best team leaders inspire their teammates to work together as well as persuade them to do so. When these people gain the trust of their coworkers, they make decisions more instinctively and with less hesitation. By demonstrating to coworkers that the strategy is in their best interests, these people can gain their trust.

For aspiring leaders, the ability to persuade is particularly useful. These professionals must persuade their superiors and subordinates to trust in and take a chance on them because they lack the experience and success to demonstrate their abilities.

The ability to persuade other parties and adapt their approach to the circumstance and the individual is a skill that leaders need to gain the support of their stakeholders.

6. Delegation


Leaders are not true leaders if they handle everything on their own. By definition, leading is delegating work and directing teams. One of the most important leadership skills is delegation. To prevent team members from becoming overburdened and ensure that projects are done on time, great leaders know how to divide, balance, and rebalance responsibilities. These people are aware of the ideal moment to delegate duties and the ideal candidates to receive them.

A big part of leadership is dividing up the work and keeping an eye on the team to make sure no one is overworked or on the verge of burnout. Effective leaders know how to distribute the workload and offer tasks in a way that will be well-received. Additionally, instead of attempting to manage the entire project alone and creating bottlenecks, these people know how to relinquish control, trust team members, and allow their employees to perform their duties.

7. Coaching

Source: Trueffelpix / shutterstock

One of the most prominent characteristics of effective leaders is their capacity and willingness to elevate others. Less seasoned managers frequently commit the error of jumping in to fix supervisees’ issues rather than mentoring them or concentrating solely on their performance and metrics rather than empowering others. Great leaders are aware of their obligation to assist others around them in becoming their best selves. These people are adept at coaching and assisting others in realizing their full potential. Such leaders are adept at inspiring thought, offering support, and energizing the group without directly providing the solution. These behaviors begin even before these people hold managerial positions since they frequently support and encourage their peers.

Related: Learning and Development: Guide for organisations

8. Management of time

Time Management

The demands on a leader’s time are great, and their to-do lists can appear endless. Professionals in charge of significant projects, tasks, or teams must possess strong time management skills. These people are skilled at organizing their workdays, estimating projects, scheduling meetings effectively, meeting deadlines, and preventing their schedules from getting out of control. Professionals can prioritize projects and restrict the amount of time spent on each one.

Great leaders are also aware of the team’s time management. These managers make modifications or ideas to enhance procedures and increase the effectiveness of systems while ensuring that team members use their time productively.

9. Boundary-setting


One of the most undervalued leadership skills is the ability to set boundaries. In many areas, including with their time, leaders must be able to set boundaries and maintain equilibrium. Hours can add up, and managers who take on too many duties and are always available to staff members may find themselves working nonstop and on the verge of burnout. On the other hand, leaders who are not kind enough with their time may experience issues with employee performance and relations.

The need for professional boundaries among leaders is maybe of utmost importance. A leader should maintain the appropriate level of distance from their team members while still attempting to forge pleasant ties and be approachable.  Leaders should also have ethical boundaries, and not allow themselves or their employees to get pressured into behaviors that go against personal beliefs or moral norms.

10. Active listening

Active Listening

For leaders, active listening is a crucial talent to learn. Being the preoccupied boss who keeps asking the same questions to the team does not convey that the manager is interested in their feedback. Additionally, to prevent losing crucial facts, leaders must evaluate the information rapidly after receiving it. Effective conversation filtering allows leaders to extract the key themes from talks and follow up with smart, pertinent inquiries. These leaders are aware that listening is a visual skill that requires encouraging the speaker and demonstrating attention and participation.

11. Empathy


One of the most important traits for leaders is empathy. Understanding the various perspectives and experiences of employees enables leaders to serve their teams better when they make decisions that have an impact on the workforce. Beyond short-term gains, these choices provide long-term benefits for the firm, such as fostering employee loyalty and lowering turnover rates.

Having this trait enables leaders to spot problems earlier and find solutions. Employers who have sensitive and attuned managers can detect the trouble and find the source of issues much more quickly. Additionally, empathy results in a better overall working atmosphere. Employees want to feel heard, appreciated, and supported. Leaders who try to understand their team members’ perspectives foster a collaborative environment.

12. Multitasking


The luxury of focusing on one activity at a time is rare for leaders. The normal workload for a leader includes attending meetings, updating executives, supervising subordinates, allocating tasks, resolving issues, and maintaining documentation. Leaders frequently have to make swift transitions between responsibilities, sometimes at the last minute. These people are skilled multitaskers who can give things their complete attention while easily switching between them. Prioritization is crucial to this discipline, and those who engage in it can continually rearrange their to-do lists in their minds. Despite changes in workload, this kind of leader rarely gets lost or overwhelmed and consistently completes assignments on schedule.

13. Focus

Many analysts maintain that leaders are distinguished from the rest of the workforce by their laser-sharp attention. Leaders are committed to seeing their plans through to completion. These experts can prioritize things, give them complete attention, and keep working until they succeed. Great leaders have both a strong sense of focus on the larger team and department as well as good self-discipline on an individual level. Leaders use focus as a compass to lead their teams to the desired outcomes.

14. Creating a plan and a strategy

Creating a plan and a strategy

The team’s direction, and occasionally the direction of the entire department or organization, is decided by the leader. Leaders must coordinate their efforts with the overall business objective. Leaders must use more integrated and long-term thinking, whereas the majority of the workforce tends to concentrate more on isolated activities and immediate outcomes. These people decide on the intended results and devise strategies to get the team there.

Great leaders provide direction and structure and make sure that the work of their teams as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. These managers can design a route that gets team members from point A to point B because they have a complete awareness of the likely outcomes and determining factors. The most effective leaders can also spot when a strategy is no longer working and create a new plan.

15. Settling disputes

Leaders frequently need to act as brokers. Conflicts between personalities, beliefs, and interests are unavoidable; it is the responsibility of leaders to lead parties to a peaceful conclusion. Good leaders can effectively navigate conflicts because they have the knowledge, techniques, and tactics necessary to do so. Conflict is an inevitable element of team development. While some of the responsibility for “getting along” lies with the team, the leader is ultimately in charge of fostering peace. Great leaders know how to minimize conflict, deal with problems quickly and expertly, and secure alignment and consensus.

16. Resilience and Tenacity

Resilience and Tenacity
Hoteliers were genuinely surprised at how resilient that both they and their colleagues had been.

Leaders should be firm yet adaptable. Bosses require both strength and determination to push beyond obstacles or face subordinates. They also need empathy. Many people erroneously believe that employers must decide between being a dictator or a pushover. The best leaders operate with a balance of kindness and firmness that is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. Although they are eager to display compassion and gentleness, these people do not allow themselves or their teams to be taken advantage of.

Leaders must have internal steadfastness and resilience to handle difficulties and manage stress because they face a lot of adversity.

17. Discretion


Leaders have access to a lot of sensitive data, including information about the private lives of employees, trade secrets, and forthcoming corporate announcements and plans. Professionals in positions of authority must use discretion and be able to distinguish between knowledge that can be shared with others and that should be kept a secret. Successful leaders must find a balance between hiding information from the team and protecting their secrets. These people are dependable and adept at handling sensitive subjects. Additionally, excellent leaders exercise tact and know which topics to steer clear of even when not specifically instructed.

18. Organization


Theoretically, managers may delegate all organizational duties to assistants and subordinates. Nobody wants to work for these types of bosses. Working for a disorganized boss is rarely enjoyable. Dispersed managers complicate the workplace unnecessarily and make it difficult for employees to rely on or trust them. Unorganized managers can confuse workers and add to their workload. Not to add, the team’s leader sets an example for the others, and chaos conveys the idea that doing bad work is acceptable.

Task delegation is a type of organization in and of itself. However, leaders should have a clear grasp of their schedules and surroundings. It is acceptable for leaders to delegate and rely on assistants and teammates to maintain order. Strong organizational abilities and efficient procedures offer structure and enable teammates to concentrate their time and effort on more important tasks rather than busy work.

19. Empathy


One of the most important traits for leaders is empathy. Understanding the various perspectives and experiences of employees enables leaders to better serve to serve their team’s better decisions that have an impact on the workforce. Beyond short-term gains, these choices provide long-term benefits for the firm, such as fostering employee loyalty and lowering turnover rates.

Having this trait enables leaders to spot problems earlier and find solutions. Employers who have sensitive and attuned managers can detect the trouble and find the source of issues much more quickly. Additionally, empathy results in a better overall working atmosphere. Employees want to feel heard, appreciated, and supported. Coworkers may be their authentic selves at work when their leaders take the time to understand them.

20. Learning


Leaders may have an aura of power, but they are not always wise. More than anybody else, leaders need to keep learning. The world is evolving quickly, and new information is continually being revealed. Leaders must remain knowledgeable of circumstances and trends to make wise decisions. Colleagues can turn to leaders for advice and knowledge, and when a team member picks up a new skill or subject, the entire group has access to that knowledge. The best leaders are voracious readers, lifelong learners, and regular attendees of workshops, leadership conferences, and learning opportunities.

The most effective leaders are keen learners who are quick to pick up new information and abilities.

Related: Learning and Development: A guide for organisations

Wrapping it up…

The willingness and capacity to consider, take in, and make improvements is the most valuable quality that an aspiring leader can have. Any talent can be learned by professionals if these characteristics are present. The notion of a “born leader” is largely untrue. Even those who have a natural aptitude for leadership make mistakes and must learn from them to keep improving. Not whether or not a person is a good leader, but rather what traits they can develop to become an even better leader, is a crucial question to ask.

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