These Competencies Lead to Leadership Success

By bcummings

Leadership Competencies

No matter your field or career level, leadership is a central factor of your work environment. You’ve probably experienced examples of strong leadership and other examples that leave something to be desired. Those examples point to certain skills and attributes that – along with collaboration and stimulating employee motivation all great leaders possess. These qualities are leadership competencies: the abilities, skills, and behaviors that allow a person to do something efficiently and effectively. To fully understand your potential as a leader, it helps to start with a framework for leadership; definitions fill in the gaps and provide a roadmap for success.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently defined leadership competency as the ability to “leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.”

How to Motivate Employees

As a leader, you can use your abilities and skills to inspire, improve, and stimulate the motivation of the teams you lead. In her book The Art and Science of Leadership (2000), Dr. Afsaneh Nahavandi (2000) writes, “A leader is any person who influences individuals and groups within an organization, helps them in the establishment of goals, and guides them toward achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective” (p.4). Dr. Nahavandi recognizes the importance of the influence attempts that occur between a leader and member. The most common influence tactics that leaders use are rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, exchange tactics, personal appeals, ingratiation, pressure, and coalition tactics (Yukl, 2006).

Similarly, Kenneth Thomas (2002) presents a model to build employees’ intrinsic motivation. This model can be used when you assign tasks to your subordinates. Give employees a sense of choice and a sense of competence. Employees then believe they can accomplish the task and are invested in its success. Concerning the purpose of the task, provide employees with a sense of meaning and a sense of progress (advancement toward the larger goals of the organization).

Enhancing motivation prompts employees to choose activities, monitor competencies, commit to the company’s purpose, and monitor their own progress through tasks. Thomas’ theory possesses tremendous pragmatic value in the workplace. When applied with situational leadership, the model can be very effective for stimulating motivation and creating influence in the workplace.

How to Collaborate as a Leader

When we collaborate, we work with people to complete a task or to create something significant in the workplace. Effective leaders engage their employees, bring people together, and remove barriers. Researchers Reilly, Minnick, and Baack (2012) explain, “Effective leaders recognize the importance of efficient communication systems. They remove barriers that can inhibit formal communication including information overload, physical barriers, interpersonal barriers, and informal contradiction of the formal message.”

Collaborate with your employees and create a culture of inclusiveness. This inclusion will help you get the most out of your team and ensure that everyone has a voice. Weiss (2012) adds, “Inclusiveness begins with the leader who leads by example by treating others inclusively and cultivating a culture supportive of diversity.”

You can create an inclusive environment by being highly aware of varying cultures on your staff, and adopting inclusive thinking and behaviors like adjusting to communicate with all groups of workers. Doing so will further develop curiosity and respect, as well as encourage acceptance of many cultures (Weiss, 2012).

Motivation and collaboration are important leadership competencies. Increasing your focus and honing your skills and abilities in these areas will improve your leadership and your team’s success.



Written by Bill Davis, MA, CM, Core Faculty and Faculty Senator in the Forbes School of Business & Technology, and Martin McAuliffe, JD, Assistant Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at Ashford University



Nahavandi, A. (2000). The art and science of leadership (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Reilly, Minnick and Baack (2012). The five functions of effective management. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Weiss, J.W. (2012). Introduction to Leadership.  San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in organizations. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey; Pearson Education, Inc. 



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