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

By Rory Cellucci on 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.

 

 

Posted in Blog

About Rory Cellucci

Rory Cellucci is passionate about advancing women leaders.
4 comments on “How do I…identify the right leaders to drive the right results?
  1. Karan Rebitzke says:

    Hi Charley Morrow,

    I want to comment on the statement, “Many organizations have built a core competency model or enterprise competency model to describe the behaviors needed to perform effectively within the organization”.
    I completely understand that this model is the most ideal and SHOULD be the case for choosing leadership position. But to play “Devil’s Advocate” for a moment, what if the competencies that are outlined for a large company does not always make for success? I came from a Fortune 500 company where everything you said can be found throughout HR and Employee handbooks. It’s sad to find, unfortunately, competencies are measured by what I call “the favorite kids”? This corrupts the formal system and leaves no room for “new blood”. So I defer to your example of caveats. It’s unfortunate and potentially a “death” to a company if hiring managers and upper leadership do not follow a sound plan that includes personality testing. For sometimes someone looks great on paper; yet their real personality is not conducive to the company. Therefore, I advocate for adding personality competencies in order to have a rounded view, especially when hiring new leaders.
    Thanks, Karan

    • Charley Morrow says:

      I completely agree—how people think and react really does matter. We like to use behavioral competencies because they are so concrete. We all can see the behaviors and discuss them—for learning and emulation.

      But, many struggle with the behavioral competencies because it is not in their natural tendencies. Networking is a common behavioral competency in large corporations because it is critical to be able to work across divisions to get work done. Introverts sometimes struggle with networking — the good news is that you can measure introversion and predict how naturally someone will network. Of course introverts can network—some become quite good at it—it is just that they might rather do something else. If it is important for a company to have networking leaders, it is important to state so. Ultimately, a introverted leader may not be comfortable in such an environment.

  2. Lynda Goldman says:

    My experience tells a somewhat different story. Regarding networking, some introverts and some extroverts are able to excell. Some enjoy the process and some – not so much. Introverts and extroverts in describing what they like; what makes the behavioral tasks easier or more difficult often describe organizational characteristics. They speak about what is said and what is done and the tension between the two. They talk about the political silos that discourage or are perceived to prevent networking and how rewards are tied to really behaving in one way or another. They use the words trust, values, culture, safety.
    That being said the conversation about competencies and personal characteristics is also a conversation about organizational culture, competencies and characteristics.

  3. Charley Morrow says:

    Absolutely. And, competencies and behaviors, especially leadership behaviors shape culture. The right behaviors can make a great culture. A few negative behaviors can quickly destroy a positive culture.

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