12 Core Competencies For Great Leadership

by  Lolly Daskal  |  Leadership Development
12 Core Competencies For Great Leadership post image

Asked to define what a great leader is, many people might say something like great leaders have integrity or great leaders inspire people or great leaders lead by service and setting the right example.

And each one of those answers is correct in its way. At its root, leadership is a collection of competencies.

This list outlines the most central of those competencies. Read through and ask yourself how you measure up.

  1. Great Leaders Create Vision & Inspiration – They clearly see where they want to take their organization, and they inspire others to share in the journey.
  2. Great Leaders Provide Support & Motivation – They help people believe in themselves and the work they are doing, instilling in their team a sense of confidence and shared mission.
  3. Great Leaders Supply Strategy & Clarity – They work hard to understand the big picture and help others see their team’s role, and their individual role as part of the team, within that context.
  4. Great Leaders Are Tactical & Flexible – They thrive on facts, figures and numbers – whether it’s ROI, ROE, or EBIDTA. But when conditions change or obstacles emerge, they are agile enough to generate and evaluate new solutions on the fly.
  5. Great Leaders Build Collaborative Communities – They bring together the powerful forces of empowerment, accountability, and communication to build the foundation for a healthy culture of collaboration.
  6. Great Leaders Leverage Diversity & Appreciate Talent – They actively seek out and leverage diversity of every type. The more perspectives at the table, the more creative, strong, well-developed ideas are likely to emerge.
  7. Great Leaders Develop Others & Encourage Them To Be More – They are committed to providing the ongoing feedback and opportunities to learn—formally or informally—that help a team and its members stay functioning at their best.
  8. Great Leaders Are Focused & Responsible – Whatever the task at hand, they define leadership with their example of attention to detail and personal accountability for outcomes.
  9. Great Leaders Are Ethical & Trustworthy – They live by the qualities that are at the heart of leadership—honesty, integrity, fairness, consistency—and set the standard for their team.
  10. Great Leaders Are Masters & Lifelong Learners – They invest the study, work, and time to master their field. And whether they’re reaching for depth or breadth, they never ever ever stop learning.
  11. Great Leaders Are Committed – They follow through and persist through obstacles and opposition, uncertainty and risk, pressure and adversity. They are dedicated and optimistic.
  12. Great Leaders Are Accountable & Decisive – They hold themselves responsible for providing measurable, timely, cost-effective high-quality results. Toward that end, they move with purpose and speed when it’s time to set a priority, choose a direction, or delegate a task

Lead From Within

At the end of the day, leadership means being the one person who manages people; who fosters vision and change; who facilitates collaboration and communication; who brings together critical thinking, organizational knowledge, and strategic acumen; and who concentrates on getting results.

The heart of leadership is where you can manage all that lies within you in conjunction with all that you manage externally. With the right balance of internal and external leadership, you will be truly grounded in the core of leading.

How do you show the heart of leadership? How do you lead from within?
Photo Credit: Getty Images

About The Author

Articles By lolly-daskal
Lolly Daskal is dedicated to helping cultivate the right values, vision and culture for individuals and organizations. Founder of Lead from Within, a global consultancy, client’s range from heads of state and CEOs of large multinational companies to budding entrepreneurs. Daskal’s coaching, consulting and speaking uses a heart-based leadership approach designed to help people to achieve their full potential.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paul LaRue  |  03 Dec 2014  |  Reply

A very solid list here, Lolly! I especially like how you’ve outlined the “hard skills” that comprise leadership. Beyond vision and inspiration, great leaders need to be financially astute, understand strategy, and build collaboration.

Leadership character is not a fuzzy concept, and you have captured the essence here nicely by challenging us to be more complete and competent in our roles.

Thanks for a terrific post!

Paula Kiger (Admin)  |  03 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Lolly, with each one of these I thought “that’s the one I’ll comment on!” I enjoyed them all. I guess if I had to choose, I would blend 10 and 11 — if you are committed and a lifelong learner, you are likely to have something positive to give your team. Thx for a great list!

john paul  |  05 Dec 2014  |  Reply

There is also something magical about the number 22 and the number 12. Thank you for these great pointers about the core competencies of leaders.

John Smith  |  26 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Hi, Lolly

Very late commenting on this excellent list, which I shared at the time of publication.

As others have pointed out, this is a very comprehensive look at what goes into competent leadership, with hard skills, soft skills, nurturing, vision, and all the rest.

Makes me a little tired just thinking about all this:) … but also enthused about the tremendous impact that an individual leader might have when they seriously undertake to become proficient in the range of leadership competencies noted here.

Thanks for a clear and compelling statement about what it takes to be a great leader:)


Join The Conversation