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The 8 Core Competencies of Leadership - Part 1

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Diverse employees listening team leader during briefing

Having a clear company vision and inspiring employees toward it has long been considered a requisite for outstanding business leadership. In the context of today’s disruptive marketplace, a business leader can achieve this by cultivating an agile team that rises above the competition in a knowledge-based economy.

Guiding staff to meet organizational objectives demands that a leader possess a diverse skill set in planning, strategy, communication, prioritization and motivation. While a multitude of approaches to leadership exists, our model breaks down leadership into eight core competencies. Below we review the first three foundational skills. These decision-related skills form the theoretical framework for optimal effectiveness while at the helm of a company.


1. Define Your Purpose


The first step in the leadership journey is knowing where you are headed. Here you will define your purpose. This is not a constellation of goals, but an arching set of values.

Defining your purpose is not a solitary act performed by a leader; rather, it involves building a shared vision and value system with your work group. With a clear purpose established, your company can excel at making decisions and overcoming obstacles as they arise. Your value-based reference point will serve as your guide.

Pro Tip: Defining or redefining purpose may signal to staff that change is coming. A smart leader will employ change resistance mitigation tools to get the team onboard with shifts in strategy and operations.

2. Establish Your Goals


The next step is concretizing your vision in the form of specific, measurable goals. This is the nuts and bolts of your team’s operations. The goals give tangible meaning to staff’s daily toil.

The targets that you set for the organization will inform team and individual goals since their work should align with larger operational objectives. This certainty in what they are striving for on an organizational, team and individual basis imbues work with purpose, in turn bolstering team stability and worker engagement.


3. Focus Your Resources


Every team is confined by limited resources. Time is of course a finite asset for any working group. Funding, materials and personnel are other resources typically in not-enough supply. A competent business leader has resource limitations at the top of their mind. Key resources will be strategically focused on goal-promoting activities, but with enough flexibility in the allocation system to pivot and accommodate fluctuating needs.

An effective leader does not bear the full weight of resource allocation alone. Instilling a sense of ownership in every worker for their resource allocation and work product is inherent to successful leadership. A team that appreciates problem-solving, decision-making and takes personal responsibility for their role in team projects inherently understands the critical nature of resource allocation and its partner time management. This is to say that such a team becomes highly collaborative and results-oriented, rather than working in their silos only focused on completing tasks and “doing their job.”

Pro Tip: Empower your team to make sound decisions by making relevant data available to them and encouraging them to use this resource.


Next Steps


The next five competencies form the doing and delivering aspect of leadership. These abilities build on the crucial decisions made in the first three steps and inspire ownership, responsibility and accountability in a team.

To learn more, read our companion piece The Core Competencies of Leadership Part 2.

Priority Management has been at the forefront of leadership and workload management best practices across the globe for over forty years. Find out why so many companies big and small have relied on us for instruction and positive behavioral change in the workplace.

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