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Blog Employee Experience

13 Leadership Competencies Every Team Needs

Parvathi Vijayamohan

1 July 2022

4 min read

Who do you think of as a good leader? If you’re an entrepreneur, it could be Jeff Bezos. If you’re a sports fan, it might be MS Dhoni or Roy Keane. Or it could even be a manager who helped you during a tough time in your career.

Companies also struggle with this question, which is why we use leadership competencies to define a good leader. In this article, we will:

  • Talk about 13 leadership competencies divided into 4 areas.
  • Share insights from three experts about the leadership competencies of the future.
  • Explore how 360 assessments can help develop leaders.

What is Leadership?

As we saw above, leadership depends on the situation, and good leaders can be found in all walks of life.

The definition of a good leader can also change depending on the role, industry, and organizational culture. The leadership skills needed in the Army, for example, are somewhat different from those required to lead an NGO.

What are Leadership Competencies?

By consistently measuring leadership competencies, companies can develop strong leaders who will help them retain talent through the Great Resignation.

“Companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.”

Hence, HR uses leadership competencies to identify leaders who can take the company up and away. Leadership assessments are one such tool that can help with measuring and benchmarking those skills.

If you’re looking for a customizable tool to identify potential leaders in your team, try SurveySparrow’s 360 surveys for free.

How to spot a leader

Forget handwriting, Myers-Briggs or enneagrams. It's the people they work with that count.

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Leadership Feedback Form Template

Leadership Competencies: Four Areas That Apply Across Teams

Now, let’s look at the core leadership competencies and attributes that can be applied to every leader, regardless of their team or department.


#1. Persuasion & Negotiation: 

  • Ability to present individual and organizational perspectives to groups clearly and persuasively.
  • Skillful at building agreement and co-operation to get information or achieve a mutual goal.

#2. Written Communication: Ability to write thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely for the intended audience.

#3. Oral Communication: 

  • Ability to convey thoughts and ideas verbally, clearly, and concisely.
  • Skilled at listening to understand, not respond.
  • Clarifies information and doubts as needed.

Team Empowerment

#4. Participative Management:

  • Involves team members in organizational planning, decision making, and problem-solving processes.
  • Builds valuable working relationships with coworkers, other teams, and external parties.

#5. Employee Recognition: Rewards and recognizes performance in a timely and appropriate manner.

#6. Team Management: 

  • Provides team members with regular and timely feedback on their performance.
  • Offers support and guidance when individuals are confronted with problems.

Coaching and Mentoring

#7. Respectful of Differences: 

  • Ability to attract and retain diverse talent.
  • Valuing diverse perspectives from people of different backgrounds and cultures.

#8. Development of Others: Ability to coach, train and develop talent.

#9. Team-Building: Ability to create and develop engaged, cohesive, high-performance teams.

Intrapersonal Leadership

10. Continual learning: 

  • Initiates self-development.
  • Willingness to question established ways of doing things.
  • Ability to effectively manage one’s time, energy, and skills for continuous personal growth and maximum performance.

11. Resilience: 

  • Ability to stay composed under pressure and stress.
  • Ability to bounce back from setbacks.

12. Flexibility: 

  • Effectively cope with ambiguity and change.
  • Ability to rapidly adapt to new situations, information, and hurdles.

13. Conflict management:

  • Confronts complex issues and takes constructive action.
  • Ability to deal decisively and fairly with problem coworkers.

Leadership Competencies for the Future

Welcome to a VUCA(Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world

“The rate of change in the business world today is greater than our ability to respond,” states Tanmay Vora, performance improvement specialist, and author. To adapt, leaders will also have to radically change their mindset. This will include skills like:

  • An abundance mindset: Spot the growth possibilities in challenges and unique problems and meld different disciplines instead of simply doing what’s required.
  • A beginner’s mind: Constant curiosity and the willingness to learn and unlearn as necessary.
  • Design for the future: Develop a purpose-driven infrastructure, methods, systems, and processes that will continue to thrive even in their absence.

What’s not on the list?

“Human resources teams and learning and development professionals tend to focus on what is commonly recognized as core leadership competencies,” says Ann Holland, organizational development consultant. “I believe there are important competencies not included on that list that future leaders should also consider and develop.” Some of those skills include:

  • Integrity: This competency can be summed up in one sentence – “Do the right thing – even when no one’s looking.”
  • Open-mindedness: To a degree, we are all frogs in a well. But a good leader always tries to figure out how big the well is and stays receptive to other viewpoints.
  • Discerning thinking: In this age of information and misinformation, a leader will need the ability to discern between facts, perceptions, assumptions and interpretations.

Learning from the future

“Historically, present leaders have been expected to help mentor and develop future leaders,” states business thinker Marshall Goldsmith. “While this will still be true in the future, there may be a major addition to the process – future leaders may be recruited to help mentor and develop present leaders.” His research uncovered a few leadership competencies where present leaders are likely to fall behind, and these include:

  • Tech savviness: According to Marshall, this does not mean being a computer programmer or scientist. Instead, being tech-savvy includes:
  1. Understanding how new tech can help their company
  2. Making and managing investments in tech
  3. Recruiting and managing technically competent people.
  • Building partnerships: In a world where outsourcing, restructuring, and downsizing have become the norm, the ability to manage complex networks of people and resources will be a crucial trait for a future leader.
  • Sharing leadership: Within such a fluid network, a leader should be comfortable sharing leadership with partners who are experts in their domain.

Benchmarking Your Leadership Competencies: The Role of 360 Leadership Assessments

Related: The A-Z of 360 surveys

  1. “Leadership is not about our intentions,”” says Dr. Joel M. Rothaizer, “but rather about our actual impact on others.” 360 leadership reviews can be effective for finding out the impact of your leadership on different groups – peers, managers, direct reports – and refine those skills further.
  2. 360 leadership assessments offer a mix of different perspectives from colleagues. These colleagues might be your professional peers and report at your level or perhaps a level higher.
  3. With an online and interview-based 360 assessment, leaders and emerging leaders can get a well-rounded overview of their management practices.
  4. One of the most potent advantages of 360 reviews is that they provide information on a leader’s hidden strengths and blind spots. This can be valuable information when creating personalized development plans for each leader.
  5. Consciously or not, different teams and cultures tend to encourage different leadership styles. 360 assessments can give you insight into the established leadership styles of your culture.

Wrapping Up

That’s all, folks! In this article, we’ve covered the kinds of leadership, the leadership competencies, and the benefits of 360 assessments in framing the competencies that are relevant to your company. Do you have anything else to add? Feel free to comment below.

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

Fledgling growth marketer. Cloud watcher. Aunty to a naughty beagle.

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