Key Leadership Competencies For Consulting & Management

What are the key leadership competencies every employer is looking for? What are the essential competencies that make employees stand out across organizations? How can you develop your abilities?

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Although there is a seemingly endless list of leadership competencies that cover a vast array of roles within a company, there are only a handful of core competencies that employers are looking for across the board. Focusing on a few key leadership competencies will make you stand out to employers. In this article, we’ll discuss:

  1. What are leadership competencies?
  2. The Leadership Competency Model
  3. Situational Leadership Competencies
  4. How to improve Leadership Competencies

Let’s dive in!

What Are Leadership Competencies?

What are leadership competencies? In short, they are a set of distinct skills and abilities that make you an effective leader. Various companies categorize them in different ways. For example, Deloitte makes a distinction between developable capabilities – skills you can learn over time – and leadership potential, which it classifies as innate strengths that you’re born with.

Other companies divide them into three categories: leadership competencies for leading an organization, for leading others, and for leading yourself.

Leadership Competencies Examples

There are some leadership competencies that are specific to the company you work for and your role within that company (ex: sales, IT). Then there are essential competencies that work across organizations.

Each of the three categories listed above (competencies for leading an organization, others, and yourself) contain a list of qualities that make someone effective at their respective level of leadership.

Here are some leadership competencies examples that fall into each category, although it should be noted that some of them fall into multiple categories.

  1. For leading an organization: decision-making, problem-solving, innovation, change management, and risk-taking are just a few.
  2. For leading others: emotional intelligence, communication, coaching or developing people, and people management.
  3. For leading yourself: self-awareness, adaptability, industry knowledge, taking risks, and displaying courtesy and integrity.

leadership competencies
Source: Academy to Innovate HR

Leadership Competency Model

What is a leadership competency model? A leadership competency model is a framework that helps companies produce strong leaders. Companies have been using leadership competency models for years, but their effectiveness has been in question, especially as of late. The traditional model contained an infinite list of competencies for employees to improve on, and the result was insignificant progress at best.

New, more effective models are taking the list from 30-50 competencies down to something more like five to ten. Once again, less proves to be more.

Deloitte highlights eight “leadership capabilities” in their leadership competency model:

  1. Inspirational leadership
  2. Execution
  3. Influence
  4. Collaboration
  5. Direction
  6. Business judgement
  7. Competitive edge
  8. Building talent

Situational Leadership Competencies

Different situations call for different leadership competencies. Some of these situations require strong, decisive leadership, whereas others call for a more emotionally intelligent skillset. See some examples below of what competencies might be needed for different situations.

  1. Management Leadership Competencies

Management leadership competencies include skills like communication, conflict resolution, and a display of ethics and integrity.

Communication skills are an essential management leadership competency. Managers need to be able to articulate what needs to be done and lay out clear expectations. Conflict resolution is another one, because conflict inevitably comes up. If left unresolved, it can affect the morale and overall performance of a team.

One that stands out to employees the most is ethics. Harvard Business Review highlighted a study that found that 67% of people surveyed placed “high ethical and moral standards” as one of the top attributes of a leader. Managers need to be honest and trustworthy. Employees want to know their manager cares and is operating out of a sense of morality.

  1. Sales Leadership Competencies

Sales leadership competencies include strategizing, goal-setting, and motivating. Sales leadership requires someone who is able to analyze data and strategically use it to their advantage. They need to be able to set goals that are attainable, but also push people to reach further than they might on their own. They need to be highly motivated themselves to meet these goals, but also be able to motivate others to do the same.

  1. Change Leadership Competencies

Companies change all the time. They’re constantly looking to become more efficient and grow. Change leadership competencies involve helping people navigate that change. This includes informing and equipping them ahead of time and being able to communicate the vision behind the change in a meaningful way. These leaders also need to be people who don’t resist change, but embrace it as an essential part of growth, and can form a team of people with the same outlook.

  1. Emotional Intelligence Leadership Competencies

Emotional intelligence leadership competencies include things like self-awareness, empathy, relationship-building, and social skills.

Leaders need to be able to understand and manage their own emotions. They need to be aware of their own shortcomings and understand how they come across to people. They also need to have an aptitude for connecting with people. Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to ask questions, build relationships, and demonstrate empathy and compassion when needed. They give their employees a sense of being understood. Common courtesy and respect for others go a long way.

How To Improve Leadership Competencies And Effectiveness

Building leadership competencies is essential to becoming a desired employee. Some competencies are unique to the particular field you work in, but there are also key competencies that work across the board.

Here are a few tips for how to improve leadership competencies and effectiveness:

  1. Focus on building on your strengths.
  2. Learn from others and ask them for feedback.
  3. Get formal training. This could be a seminar or online course.
  4. Take advantage of free resources: books, articles, blog posts, and podcasts.
  5. Observe good leadership. Notice the things that stand out to you about good leaders and ask them questions if possible. Good leaders are a wealth of knowledge and experience.


Leadership competencies are essential in developing yourself as a leader and employee. Over the years, companies have seen that the best results come from focusing on a few essential competencies and developing the innate strengths of their employees. We trust that the leadership competencies examples given above help to highlight the importance of developing these competencies within your organization. You can start with a few key strengths you want to improve on and go from there.

Learn more about our corporate training programs – we can help your team develop the core competencies it needs to excel!

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Filed Under: Consulting skills, Corporate Training, Leadership, Leadership & Management