Top Leadership Competencies a Successful Leader Must Have

People tend to talk about born leaders, but to be a great leader, you need to have specific competencies. It is important to develop this set of qualities that makes you a good leader, and the work is never-ending. Cultivating a powerful set of leadership competencies is necessary not for personal growth but for your enterprise. Only with a skillful and efficient leader, can a company expand and remain successful. It has been a trend lately to pay close attention to such competencies when hiring new staff as it contributes directly to the well-being of any company.

What Does a Leadership Competency Mean?

Leadership competencies are skills, attributes, and abilities that can make an employee a great leader. When looking for a person to fill in an executive position, it is crucial to evaluate their leadership potential.

While there are a few universal skills that might be considered vital for business leaders, it is not necessary to possess all of these skills to be competent and successful. Even within one enterprise, people occupying different executive positions might have various leadership skills and hidden potential. This is why most companies focus on finding talents with the competencies or sets of skills that will be useful for their specific businesses or projects. In addition, working on enhancing these skills is a crucial part of the replacement planning process.

Why Is It Crucial to Cultivate Management Competencies?

Without having the necessary competencies for being a successful leader, you can face numerous challenges. First of all, a person might not even become a manager if they are lacking the necessary proficiency and values. Secondly, even in an executive position, your career can become stagnant if you do not improve and grow. Here are some things you need to avoid so as not to fail as a leader:

  • Issues with interpersonal relations – troubles with building trustworthy and close relationships with colleagues.
  • Problems with gathering and managing teams – issues with picking the right employees to form a working team, as well as directing and motivating them.
  • Resistance to change – changes are inevitable, and some of them might be as drastic as the pandemic. Being unable to adapt and overcome the difficulties, as well as learn from your mistakes, can set you back.
  • Inability to follow the plan – a leader must be able to stick to the plan and meet the set objectives. You will fail if you do not complete the necessary tasks in time or perform them poorly.
  • Lack of expertise – a manager must be experienced in different fields and have deep knowledge in a variety of areas. If your training is too narrow, you might face big challenges.

These things can really mess up your career as a company or project leader. To avoid such issues, it is necessary to work on your competencies and never stop improving your skills.

Three Kinds of Business Competencies

All leadership competencies can be divided into a few different categories, but HRs usually divide the three main groups. It is essential to know how to detect these skills in people when hiring a new workforce. Here are the three main types of competencies:

  • The ones necessary for managing a business;
  • For managing other workers;
  • For managing yourself;

As we have mentioned earlier, there can be some other categories as well. Some experts think that another group of leadership skills are those that can be developed in the future if the candidate has the right potential.

Top Leadership Skills and Abilities

This list contains some of the most valued skills in a leader. For businesses, it is crucial to hire professionals that possess the following competencies to continue improving and expanding the enterprise. Here are some of the most valuable skills that a manager or an executive can have:

  • Communication skills – this is one of the most necessary leadership competencies as it has the most impact. These skills help with navigating through various social situations and understanding the social dynamics between people. These skills also define how well a person can deal with a wide range of situations;
  • Resolving conflicts – this skill refers to both managing workers and the entire company. With this competency, leaders can assist other employees or even other managers within the firm when there is a need to resolve a personal conflict. However, solving conflicts is not simply taking one’s side or trying to find a compromise. A good leader would try to combine all points of view to find the best solution;
  • Making decisions – this is another highly important skill as the main objective of any leader is to make proper decisions. For a leader, it is important to be able to make decisions on their own, ask other colleagues for advice if necessary, or even allow other people to make decisions if it is the best option;
  • Creating an engaging vision – when occupying a leading position in a company, you need to have a clear vision of the future of your firm. Having a vision is necessary for knowing your next moves and being able to deal with unforeseen circumstances. It is also crucial to be able to convey your vision to employees and make them share the same ideas as you. You cannot force people to have the same vision, which is why it is necessary to present it compellingly;
  • Changes in the organization – each company is always changing, and some of these changes can be small, but others are global. From changing certain software used for communication in the company to replacing the employees that occupy executive positions, a nice leader should be able to support colleagues during these uncertain times;
  • Social skillset – these are also called soft skills. Communication with colleagues is essential for effective collaboration, and a leader has to be a good listener, offer constructive feedback and take into account what other people have to say, solve issues, as well as b able to work in a team;
  • Empathy – this is an important skill that allows understanding the emotions of other people. Being able to figure out your personal emotions is also highly important. A proper leader needs to know their own strong and weak sides, control their emotions, strive to understand people and connect with them, care for others, etc.;
  • Earn the trust of colleagues – only when people trust their leaders it is possible to influence them and change for the better, as well as increase the efficiency of their work. Being sincere and open with colleagues is one of the requirements for earning their trust. Be genuine, and people will like you;
  • Remain inclusive – it is one of the direct responsibilities of a great leader to create a working environment where each employee fits in perfectly. Ensure that all people on your team are respected evenly, have access to the same resources and possibilities, can improve and hone their skills, etc. Great managers need to welcome diversity and ensure that all other colleagues also feel the same way. It is also important to know that the system is flawed and some people need support to feel welcome and thrive. Always share your privileges to empower others and let everyone grow and succeed;
  • Managing people – every leader needs to know how to manage other people. While managers can have different responsibilities based on the lever of their position, some of these duties might include monitoring the trainees, controlling the development of employees, ensuring that all the workers are motivated and satisfied, as well as monitoring the daily work;
  • The ability to adapt – when the pandemic started, every single business and institution had to work something out to continue operating. The quicker a company was able to adapt to the new reality, the quicker it got back on track and continued earning money. We cannot predict what will happen in the future, maybe we will need to find some other solutions instead of the remote work we are already used to right now. A perfect leader needs to think quickly and adapt to any circumstances because many people rely on them;
  • Being an industry expert – it is quite common today to switch jobs and even professions frequently and without much trouble. This was not possible a few decades ago. Many industries, especially those concerning modern technology, are developing at incredible speed. It is almost impossible to be on top of all the trends and have expertise in the newest developments all the time. However, for a manager, it is crucial to understand that a high-quality professional still must have experience and expertise in their job to be useful and succeed;
  • Self-management – while managers need to know how to lead other people, it is also incredibly important to be able to apply the same skills to yourself. It is necessary to manage your volume of work efficiently, feelings, timetables, and more. How can you manage other workers if you cannot manage yourself in the first place? Each leader has their special approach to things, but ultimately, it is necessary to be methodical and forward-looking to succeed;
  • Being brave – being a good leader often requires bravery. Managers face decision-making constantly, and these decisions are often rather difficult to make. Whether you need to lay someone off or make a risky decision regarding the enterprise, this is not easy. Leaders also need to be courageous to defend their principles and other people if necessary;
  • Respectable behavior – of course, there are skills that professionals must have for their work. However, personal values are also highly appreciated in the workplace. A good leader needs to be amiable and sincere not only because they want to benefit the business but to be a decent human. Being a manager, it is important to help your employees and colleagues without wanting something in return every time. Sometimes, certain things might not go as planned, and you can feel disappointed and even angry, but it is important to forgive and keep your head cool to deal with everything without hard feelings.

As you can see, the list of competencies that good managers need to have is rather lengthy. It is not even the full list of skills and qualities that define a good leader. However, it does not mean that you need to have all of them to be an effective, kind, and successful manager. We are all human, and companies often have different managers, each with specific competencies to balance each other out.

Cultivating Leadership Abilities

There are many ways of cultivating certain abilities in a person. The same goes for company leaders as they can obtain new skills and improve the already existing ones by sticking to a special development plan. As all leadership competencies can be roughly divided into three groups, each group of abilities and skills can be developed in a certain way. Here is how managers can obtain and enhance the necessary competencies:

  • Competencies required for managing a business – when training to lead a company, you can learn a lot from mentorship. The experience gained over the years is the most valuable resource, and learning from other successful leaders is the best option in this case. It is also recommended to take management courses as there are many different categories of management, and you can learn some new skills this way;
  • Competencies required for managing other workers – it is also great to receive some help from a professional coach to learn these skills. Some areas that you can work on with the help of another expert are working with feedback, such as providing and gathering it, listening, and communicating non-verbally. Special workforce management pieces of training are also important;
  • Competencies required for managing yourself – becoming an expert is something that managers can do on their own by researching everything about the company, its products and services, and the people that work there. Some other skills necessary for personal management, such as time management and various planning, can be improved with the help of tutorials and workshops.

With a proper approach, it is possible to nurture some of the most important competencies for a manager. Becoming a leader in a corporate environment is a struggle, and it pays off when you invest enough time and effort into it.


The set of necessary leadership competencies can vary greatly based on the set of criteria. Managers in various industries, firms, or even on different levels within one enterprise can require diverse skills and qualities. HRs need to have a clear understanding of which competencies are crucial for their business and which ones can be omitted or developed afterward. This way, it will become possible to hire the best specialists for your team and discover workers that complement each other with their abilities. Finding the right people for executive positions in the enterprise is a huge step toward building a prosperous business. They will lead the company forward and direct all the other employees with their skills.