Management. Leadership. Two simple words, two complex concepts. In today’s hyper-competitive business environment in which profits are scarce and companies are forced to do more with less, financial success (if not mere survival) depends on hiring the right people to manage and the right people to lead. The question is, of course, how to do this. In order to find effective managers and leaders, you must first identify the management and leadership competencies that make them successful.
Since successful recruiting and hiring is contingent upon finding leaders most likely to perform, if not excel, in the job, it critical that these efforts focus on managerial competencies. But let’s stop there for a minute.
What are competencies? They are, in short, a set of personal traits, skills, knowledge, and abilities that determine whether someone can perform a specific activity, task or job. These attributes address personal capability, a person’s focus on results, the interpersonal skills and, for those considered for leadership positions, ability to lead organizational change and vision the future.
Many large American employers, including the federal government, have developed or are developing a list of core competencies which drive their personnel decisions (as an example, see Making the Right Connections-Targeting the Best Competencies for Training, A Report to the President and the Congress of the United States by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, February 2011).
This sounds easy enough, but it really isn’t. The difficulty doesn’t lie in choosing the competencies that are important; the difficulty also lies in whether the management competencies of those doing the choosing are sufficient to adequately assess the importance and criteria of each competency. In other words, are your managers capable of distinguishing critical factors so that they can apply them appropriately when making personnel decisions?
Because traits, motives and characteristics are qualitative rather than quantitative, recognizing those deemed most relevant is a subjective exercise. And evaluating these characteristics is itself a subjective exercise. You could say that employing the right competencies by which to evaluate a candidate is actually something that requires its own competency.
Unfortunately no hiring decision requires accurate recognition of relevant competencies more than when a company is looking to bring aboard or promote a leader. Effective leadership requires that a person with vision is able to transmit that vision and convey a sense of mission (where are we going, how do we get there?) in such a way that she gets commitment from others to realize the vision and energizes them to feel empowered so that they, in turn, utilize their own capabilities, characteristics, their competencies, to maximum effect. (While that’s a mouthful, it accurately represents the complexity of effective leadership!)
So where does that leave executives and business owners? It leaves us is with the task of determining what competencies are crucial to the position for which we are hiring and then picking out the person in possession of those competencies, preferably in abundance. We can no longer hire people simply on the basis of education and prior experience, because what got a business to where it is today very likely aren’t the same skills required to keep it moving forward.
A typical list of managerial competencies might look like this:
- Decisive Judgment
- Championing Change
- Driving for Results
- Planning and Organizing
- Managing Others
- Influencing and Persuading
- Coaching and Developing Others
- Motivating Others
- Relationship Management
- Business Acumen
(Source: Assess Leading Others Competency Model)
How do these compare to your managerial skill list? How are you evaluating these competencies on candidates, current managers, as well as future leaders?