Executive competencies are skills and behaviors that cultivate the best performance. Organizations using a competency-based approach to leadership enables them to identify and develop leaders.
Take a look at the following competencies to assess where your strengths are, as well as where you might have room to grow.
Do people instinctively look to you for answers and direction? Having executive presence means being calm, confident, and comfortable taking charge. But perhaps you avoid taking the lead, or perhaps you grab the lead it even when it's not needed. Executive presence is an impactful way to manage yourself.
Do people gravitate towards you? Approachability entails being warm, engaging, and gracious. Approachability is important in your work because you need to connect with colleagues and customers. Approachability, and how you manage yourself, is also important in your personal life. Are you approachable, or do people hesitate to approach you? Conversely, do you overshare and need to be liked too much?
Do you see conflicts as a way to find common ground and improve relationships? Good conflict management involves being a good listener and a creative problem solver. Perhaps you avoid conflict by accommodating everyone, or perhaps you insist on being right without regards to other solutions or peoples' feelings. Conflicts at work and home are inevitable, but how you handle them and manage yourself is your choice.
Comfort around higher leadership
Do you understand how leaders above you think, and what they need? Being comfortable with people or boards higher up than you means knowing how to speak their language, and create an approach that will help get the job done. Or are you nervous, mismanage yourself, or misread the situation? Conversely, perhaps you spend too much time trying to "kiss up".
Do you enjoy relating to all kinds of people? Find yourself talking to the bus driver as easily as your CEO? Interpersonal savvy means that you are tactful, positive, empathic, and can calm any kind of situation. But perhaps you don't read others well, or conversely, perhaps you spend too much time glad-handing? Building your interpersonal savvy can make the difference between being effective and not being effective.
Do you wait for folks to catch up before acting? Are you sensitive to processes and people? Taking the time to understand peoples' perspectives and the information is vital at work and home and makes teamwork and life more enjoyable for all involved. But some people jump too soon and are irritated, while others take too much time to make decisions or act. Finding the balance of patience is tough, but necessary.
Do you focus on the most important matters first? Do you get more done in less time than others? Time management is key to productivity, and ultimately to your worth in the market, whether you work for yourself or a company. But perhaps you are disorganized and waste time. Alternatively, perhaps you are so tightly scheduled that you have no "downtime"?
Writing is one of the top 5 skills executives need to succeed. Good writing means being clear, succinct, and being able to elicit the right effect in the reader. Does your writing achieve this? Or are your written communications lengthy and confusing? Or perhaps you write very well, but write instead of having a meeting or making a call? Knowing which medium to use is key to your productivity.
Can you set goals, milestones, and timelines? Planning also involves assigning the right tasks to the right people. Anticipating roadblocks is also important. Perhaps your planning and productivity are hampered by a last-minute approach to work? Or conversely, maybe you are too detailed and inflexible with your plans?
Are you able to capture your audience's attention, and to convey your message in an effective way? Are you comfortable when presenting? Or perhaps you are shy and flat? Or alternatively, perhaps you oversell? Knowing how to make presentations is an important part of engaging and managing teams.
Hiring and staffing
Do your hires learn quickly, over deliver, and get promoted…sometimes even beyond you? Then you have the very special gift of being able to select talent. This means being astute, listening, knowing what the business needs, and embracing people with complementary skills to round out your team. But if you find you have high turnover soon after your employee starts, or you find yourself having to fire many people, maybe you need to build your hiring and staffing skills and processes.
Building effective teams
Do your teams accomplish their projects in a positive and cohesive way, and within a strong and diverse culture? Are you able to assemble, build, and manage the team to be its best? Or perhaps you have not been able to create a common mindset. Or, alternatively, have created a team of similar-minded people who don't meet their goals. Organizations need effective teams for today, and for tomorrow. You are measured by your team's success, and it is your legacy.
Effective delegation means laying out a plan and purpose, then bringing out the best in people while delegating work. Do people understand your direction? Are they motivated to follow through? Or perhaps you don't get the results you intended? As you elevate in leadership positions, your success depends on others. So delegation becomes even more important.
Do you create a culture in which people want to do their best? People are engaged and empowered and get great results. But perhaps you find folks confusing because one size does not fit all. Or perhaps no matter what you do, people don't seem to care much. Managing effective teams requires motivating others.
Do your meetings hit each agenda item and run on time? Are all participants engaged and follow up with their tasks between meetings? Or maybe you have a hijacker who ambushes your meeting, and gets away with imposing their own agenda? Meetings add up to costly wasted time, if not managed properly.
Are you able to adapt your communication style to all kinds of people? Do you engage, hire, develop, and promote all kinds of people and styles? Being aware of your own self and culture enables you to embrace others, whether they are similar or different. Perhaps you have some conscious or unconscious preferences or biases against certain types of people? Or perhaps you are too lenient with certain groups? Being inclusive is one of the most important aspects of managing teams because it offers a larger pool of candidates, encourages innovation, and keeps HR out of your office.
Do you know what your underlying needs are from your career? It's important to know how to mobilize and push your development and career forward. Or perhaps you are bored in your current situation, but not sure what you would prefer? Or maybe you know exactly where you would like to be, but come across as too pushy? Ambition is a good thing; how to go about fulfilling it can be the tough part.
Do you find it easy to update, interest, and engage your boss? Do you also find it easy to receive feedback, guidance, and advice from your boss? When your boss is having a hard time, do you know how to help? But maybe you are not comfortable with your boss, and avoid contact when possible. Or perhaps you see the boss more like a peer, and it's turning out to be a problem. Bosses make or break your job, and even your career. Learning how to manage your boss is key to advancing your career.
Do you find that your interviewing process yields the best jobs for you? Do you take into account how to answer behavior-based questions, how to demonstrate your EQ, and what to research and observe about your potential future employer? Or maybe you just go with a gut feeling, or how the company looks on paper. Selecting your employer and manager is one of the most important things you can do for your career.
Career development depends on self-development. Are you aware of your strengths, and of your areas of needed improvement to achieve the next level of your career? When was the last time you received honest, informed, and helpful feedback? But maybe you are not motivated or don't know how to develop yourself. Some folks spend a lot of time learning, but not enough time applying new skills to truly progress in their career.
Corporate politics are a fact of life, and navigating them in an effective and discreet way will advance your career. Do you understand where the landmines are, who the power players are, and how the interpersonal relationships work? Perhaps you are unaware of these dynamics, and say or do things that have career-limiting consequences. Or perhaps you are too keenly aware of corporate politics, so much so that people do not trust you.
Dealing with ambiguity
Are you able to shift gears to accommodate change? Are you comfortable that some degree of risk and uncertainty are part of the job, and that you have to make calls with insufficient or ambiguous information at times? Or perhaps you jump to a solution out of discomfort? Alternatively, perhaps you wait too long and gather too much data before acting? The higher you go in leadership, the fewer trodden paths there are, and the more complex business forces are. Therefore, dealing with ambiguity is an important part of career progression.
Are you able to understand different stakeholders' underlying needs, and see the common ground to settle differences with diplomacy and tact? Are you trusted? Or perhaps you are too accommodating? Or, alternatively, too attached to a position and forceful? Negotiations, compromises, competing priorities across the organization are all part of the course. How you negotiate is a key component to your career progression.
There are times when you will be the only leader willing to champion an idea or to work on a tough assignment. Do people trust you and count on you? Or are you not comfortable taking the lead on a controversial issue? Alternatively, perhaps you are too much of a loner and stand along too much. Career progression has its moments of courage and conviction. Knowing when and how is key.