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How Do You Create a Leadership Competency Model?

Get to the bottom of your most-asked questions around competencies. How do you create a leadership competency model? How many competencies do you need? And many more.

Publish Date: February 3, 2021

Read Time: 6 min

Author: Michael Ganeles

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The past year has radically shifted the business landscape. And for leaders, the skills once relevant in a pre-pandemic world have quickly been replaced with new must-have leadership skills. HR professionals are left asking, how do you create a leadership competency model in line with the challenges facing leaders today? How do you know what key skills leaders need to respond to both ongoing and future changes?

We got a lot of these questions during a recent webinar we hosted on competencies. So we created a few videos to answer some of your most pressing questions around how you create a leadership competency model. (If you missed it, you can check out our competency webinar here.)

Are there any recommendations with aligning competencies to a company’s values?

In answering, “how do you create a leadership competency model?” it’s important to think first about the essential building blocks of your leadership competency framework. That means defining your company’s strategic and cultural priorities and letting these guide your competency model. You’ll want your model to be tightly in alignment with these high-level priorities, so your leaders are sure to have the skills to execute against them.

When implementing a new competency framework, do you recommend starting at the individual level or C-suite level?

When building a new competency model for multiple levels of leadership, it’s best practice to start with your top-level leaders first. Why? As mentioned above, it’s crucial that your model is in alignment with your business’s top-level priorities. So, starting to build a competency model first for the people who really understand your business, like the C-level, makes perfect sense in achieving this strategic alignment early on in your process.

But note, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a competency model for an individual contributor job, or job family. While it’s ideal to look at your leadership competency framework more systemically, it’s okay to build models for individual jobs if that’s what’s best for your company’s immediate talent needs.

How many competencies should your company have?

This is the question that typically follows, “how do you create a leadership competency model?” But spoiler alert: there’s no magic number! And everyone’s favorite response, “it depends,” is applicable here, too. The number of competencies you should have depends on many different variables.

There is a sweet spot that strikes a balance, though. Strive to be at a spot where you’re capturing the most critical areas you need to consider for a particular job or job family. But then also keep in mind that you don’t have the time to interview someone on an endless number of competencies.

Get more of your competency model questions answered by watching our webinar, Updating Your Competency Framework for a New Economy.

Michael Ganeles is Director of Product Management at DDI, where he leads DDI’s leadership assessment solutions. Previously, he has also served as a director in DDI’s Global Field Enablement team and as the leader of DDI’s Healthcare Practice.

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