How do you rate yourself on the application of these five leadership competencies?

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From time to time there are articles that catch my attention because they have some empirical base that causes me to stop, think and reflect. Earlier this week I came across one such article by Dr Sunnie Giles writing for Harvard Business Review. Dr Giles is a professionally certified executive coach, leadership development consultant and organisational scientist.

Recently she completed the first round of a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organisations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. She has grouped the top ones into five major themes that suggest a set of priorities/competencies for leaders and leadership development programs.

While these five themes seem straight forward they are, according to Dr Giles, difficult to master.

  1. Strong Ethics and Safety
  2. Self-organising
  3. Efficient learning
  4. Nurture Growth
  5. Connection and belonging

Strong Ethics and Safety is about leaders creating a safe and trusting environment. The more ethical you are as a leader the more people will feel safer and therefore the higher capacity people have to feel safe to engage, innovate and create.

Self-organising leads to genuine empowerment when people are given the freedom and ability to organise their own time and either self-set goals or participate jointly with their leader to set clear goals. When people are empowered it allows them to work with more freedom and provides opportunities to learn. The more empowered people feel the more engaged they are, and this increases the probability that they will go the extra mile.

Efficient learning requires risk-taking, and with risk taking comes mistakes and at times failure. Admitting mistakes is challenging for everyone, however they are rich source of learning. If we discourage people from taking chances we stifle initiative and innovation.

Nurturing growth is essential, and one of our goals as leaders is to give those who report to us the best opportunity for success. The capacity to nurture, coach, mentor, teach, call it what you will, is fundamental to great leadership. Take a moment and think back to whom you learnt the most from be they parents, teachers, current or past managers; I’ll bet you find that you respected and valued them as a leader.

Connection and belonging is something that is hard wired into us. We need to connect as it is fundamental to improving our chances of success and survival. The more powerful the connection between leaders and their people and vice versa the more stable and productive people are.

In her article Dr Giles also briefly covers the neuroscience associated with these five areas and provides some useful tips to draw upon to improve our own leadership performance. To read her full article use following URL


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