What is a leadership competency framework? (With examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

All types of organisations benefit from good leaders to bring teams together and guide them to success by reaching company goals. To find the right people to lead individuals and teams, companies use a leadership competency model to identify and assess candidates for leadership roles in the business. If you're looking to advance towards a leadership role or find the right person for the job, it helps to understand this framework. In this article, we look at what a leadership competency framework is, the benefits it provides and some examples of leadership competencies.

What is a leadership competency framework?

A leadership competency framework is a tool that businesses use to identify, assess and measure specific competencies of employees to determine their ability to hold leadership roles in the business. It's a tool that helps to assess performance, reward the best employees and keep talent in the company by measuring their compatibility with leadership opportunities. The competencies these frameworks measure help outline what a company looks for in ideal leadership candidates and help companies make better-informed decisions around hiring and promoting individuals.

What are the benefits of a framework for leadership competency?

Using a framework for leadership competency offers several benefits to companies looking to identify leaders within their existing workforce. Using a clearly defined framework to assess and select the right person for leadership positions helps companies in a few different ways, such as:

Helps to assess leadership performance

One of the biggest challenges when identifying and managing leadership within a company is effectively assessing leadership performance. A framework for leadership competency provides a clear model for companies to measure leadership performance by assessing several competencies. They have an impartial reference that provides clear milestones for development towards leadership which allows companies to target and measure skills, characteristics and experiences that align with leadership.

Related: What are competency frameworks? (And how they are developed)

It establishes performance expectations

Using a framework for leadership competency helps companies to outline and search for the correct behaviours and skills necessary for leadership roles based on established performance standards. This allows human resources teams and senior management to set out clear expectations for those looking to enter leadership roles. It also creates a useful process for managing performance in these areas by assessing certain skills, knowledge and attributes in the workforce.

Related: Leadership models: What are they and how do they differ?

It improves leadership development and training

Companies that use a framework for leadership competency have a better understanding of the attributes necessary for leadership positions, making it easier to train staff and guide them towards the role. By measuring the levels of leadership, it's easier to notice any gaps in skills or knowledge. This allows human resources teams to prioritise the most relevant training programmes to help develop leaders internally. Those looking to advance towards these roles also have a better understanding of what areas to develop. For example, managerial staff looking to advance might undertake specialist leadership development training to reach the right standards.

It supports succession planning

Succession planning is an important process for companies to ensure they have the right people ready to step into leadership roles when they become available. This helps keep the business agile and protects against skills shortages for leadership roles in the company. Leadership competency frameworks provide the right information to help companies outline what attributes to look for in potential successors for important senior roles in the business. Moreover, it helps establish leadership succession planning by highlighting specific employees with the right blend of experience, skills and knowledge to enter certain leadership roles in the future.

It helps with leadership recruitment

One of the most compelling reasons to implement a framework for leadership competency is that it helps with leadership recruitment. Using this type of framework allows businesses to identify the suitable characteristics for leadership positions so they have more information available to them regarding recruitment. This is especially useful for senior management and human resources, as they typically work on sourcing leadership candidates. For example, if a company emphasises innovation as a key characteristic for leaders in their organisation, then recruiters know to look for this trait in candidates.

It gives employees a clear path to progression

Another benefit that a framework for leadership competency provides is a clear understanding for employees looking to progress towards leadership roles in the company. By referencing the framework, employees know what characteristics to develop and what areas of expertise to focus on if they want to advance towards leadership roles. This makes it easier for them to work towards senior roles in the business, which is a strong motivator for their overall success at the company.

Related: How to address and strengthen leadership weaknesses

Examples of leadership competencies

There are many different competencies that a company might choose to include in their framework for leadership competency depending on the needs of the business. Below are some notable examples of leadership competencies that you might find in a framework for leadership competency:

Conflict management

Conflict management is an important skill for leaders in any company as it allows them to de-escalate a situation and promote new ideas instead of driving negative conflict. A good leader can mitigate conflict while creating a productive workplace environment. All types of businesses benefit from this type of leadership which incorporates things like mediation and conflict resolution to bring teams together. There are also associated skills that tie into conflict management that help elsewhere, such as the ability to negotiate and compromise.

Decision-making

Companies rely on their leaders to make the right decisions for the company, so it's an invaluable competency to measure when selecting potential leadership candidates. Good decision-making requires the ability to make the best choices for the company, know when to bring in a consultant or expert for their opinions and also invite colleagues to assist in the process of decision-making. A competent leader also understands their limitations and when to let others make the decisions.

Related: The importance of leadership and culture in organisations

Vision and strategy

A competent leader looks forward and has a clear vision of what their team aspires to accomplish with a plan on how to do it. As a result of this vision and strategy, teams enjoy more direction and have a better understanding of what their work is building towards. It's also important to let the rest of the business know about the team's role in the overall success of the business.

Strong leaders tend to have good foresight and vision, often leading to improved innovation by working towards a shared goal. These leaders help guide the vision of the company as a whole by establishing long-term goals and supporting these goals with effective strategies. By bringing good strategy and targeted execution together, leaders provide a clear path ahead for a company to work towards success in both short-term and long-term endeavours.

Handling change

For companies to succeed, it's essential that they effectively manage internal and external changes. A good leader knows when to adjust company goals when these changes occur, which requires excellent foresight and planning. Strong leaders also know how to manage these situations and devise alternative strategies to guide the company through periods of change. This involves understanding what consequences these changes bring to the company and the potential impact they might have on things like staff morale or company targets.

Related: 10 essential situational leader characteristics: a guide

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are an important attribute for leaders as it helps nurture professional relationships and ensures that teams work optimally. Strong leaders know how to manage emotions effectively and communicate across a team coherently. It's also a useful trait as it ensures that leaders make well-measured decisions without doing so in haste, which helps to prevent poor decision-making.

Emotional intelligence

Like interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence is an important skill for leaders as it allows them to control their emotions and positively influence others. Emotional intelligence is also an important way to lower stress levels in leaders while ensuring they communicate effectively and bond with their team. This helps to face challenges head-on without issue and handle conflicts more effectively.

Related: What are leadership principles? 12 principles to follow

Coaching

Leaders often act as coaches or mentors for their team, so coaching skills work as a useful metric for frameworks for leadership competency. A good leader knows when to push colleagues out of their comfort zone to help them achieve something beyond their current expectations. They can then couple this with tailored feedback to help guide and support individuals to ensure their efforts are successful.

Related: 12 visionary leader qualities (and how to become one)

People management

Another important measurement for selecting leaders in a company is their ability to manage others. This includes directing staff, motivating them towards success and providing them with sufficient training to help them improve their performance. Leaders help build strong teams to help drive company success but to do this, it's essential for them to balance individual needs with the overall needs of the business. A strong leader takes both the existing objectives and long-term goals of the company into account when developing and managing teams.

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