Leadership Competency Model: An Introduction
The approach I take extends the Krone model to a second level of complexity, so that it serves as a learning framework for leading and leadership competency of self and organization.
Will: Why are individual and collective leaders motivated to take action to do the work that is necessary to grow themselves and the business organization?
Being: How are aspiring leaders to prepare themselves? And how are they to work together in an organization to inluence positive change?
Function: What actions by individual aspiring leaders or collective activities by the organization need to be taken to bring about positive change?
Let me illustrate this idea of holistic leadership competence. In the engineering department of our company everyone was striving to develop their competence both as leaders and as engineers – Everyone a Leader. That meant developing their competence as leaders of self as engineers as well as leaders within their business unit organizations.
The value-add work of the engineering department involved many things, but a large part of it was directed at capital project execution. Our company “spend” here was many tens of millions of dollars per year, comprising a multitude of small / medium and occasionally very large capital projects. It was essential that the department's engineers be competent. One of those major projects was the design and construction of a large expansion to one of our major polymer manufacturing operations. The complexity of this project related to its size in inancial terms (it would cost many millions of dollars), its technology (it involved launching a new, innovative process from our R&D organization), and its timeline, which for business reasons was much shorter than was normal for our company. It was essential that this project be done well.
Terry (I will call him that) had come to our company around the same time I did after graduating from a very good engineering school. He wanted to contribute to the organization as an engineer and was not interested in being a manager or salesperson – he wanted to be a high-performance engineer who worked on delivering projects. Over the years, he and I saw a lot of each other – in the beginning, we worked together, and now I was a business unit leader and a customer of his.
Terry had developed into an excellent project engineer. He was sought after by all those who had a capital project to be executed because all his projects were completed safely, on time or faster than scheduled, and at or below planned cost. No one was ever injured during the design or construction of any project he led, that I can recall.
Terry was always straightforward, conident, tenacious, and hardworking. He also communicated well, not only to business managers but to all the people on his project teams. When I irst discussed the project with him, he was immediately excited and began to quiz me about the business goals, asking a lot of questions that started with why. He said he needed to understand the business goals so that he and his project team could add value, and that could only happen if he knew the business strategy and objectives.
So we assigned the project to Terry, and he put together the project team. Many of the department engineers wanted to work with him. They admired him because they knew he was a good leader whose skills as an engineer and coach were well known. But mostly they wanted to work on his project because of his character and his ability to develop the people on his team. Terry would always take time with his team to teach. The team he put together included me, as the business leader, and a number of the R&D people who had developed the new technology. He persuaded all of us to be active members. Communicating with a diverse team is always a challenge, but he had a track record for succeeding at it. The team's engineers gained much from his ability to understand and communicate the needs of the project's customers. As the project progressed, it became clear to me that his team members were delivering the project in terms of safety, schedule, cost, and quality. Also, the team members were learning from Terry and from one another. The engineers were becoming more skilled as engineers, but also more skilled as team players – that is, they were learning to work with others more effectively. By the project's end, because of Terry's success in leading them, all of them would be more valued as engineers on future projects. This only strengthened his reputation as a role model.
All of Terry's engineering talent and all the concern he expressed for people relected his motivation to do the right things for the business organization. You knew from his behaviour that he would do everything possible to deliver. Terry was a role model leader-engineer who knew how to contribute at a high-performance level to the leadership of the business organization. And yes, the project was completed well – all objectives were met or exceeded.
I end this part of the book by describing a leadership competency model (Figure 2.4).
Figure 2.4 Leadership Competency Model
Again, as with the model for developmental leadership, this igure shows three aligned interdependent frameworks. Each has three speciic actionable elements relating to the generic terms function, being, and will. In addition, each leg of the model has a fourth action element that is unique. The element thinking effectively is important for determining the competency of leading self; serving stakeholders is a critical set of processes and activities to be learned by those who aspire to lead organizations.
Each of these two processes to be learned – thinking effectively and serving stakeholders – has elements of function, being, and will. For example, thinking effectively requires us to think about why a person is motivated to think, how the individual prepares to think about things, and what the individual is thinking about doing. Similarly, serving stakeholders of the business organization guides us to consider and learn to understand why serving society is so important to the success of the enterprise, how the business can advance by achieving shared purpose with employees, and what needs to be done to continuously add value by serving customers effectively.
The “Self-Leading Competency” mental model will be detailed more fully in part two of this book. The “Organizational Competency” mental