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What Are the Top 5 Leadership Competencies?

What makes a good leader, and which leadership competencies are considered the most important around the world?  An organizational scientist recently turned her talents towards finding out.

What Are the Top 5 Leadership Competencies?

A global study  sheds light on leadership competencies.

Dr. Sunnie Giles, leadership development consultant, published her findings this month in the Harvard Business Review.  Not surprisingly, high ethical and moral standards was the top pick for survey respondents.

The study was conducted in 15 countries and queried 195 leaders, who were each  asked to pick the most important leadership competencies from a list of 74.

After the top pick, the next four were a little less obvious, with #3 and #5 both bearing particular weight with us…you’ll see why in just a moment!

And the results are in…

“High ethical and moral standard” was chosen by 67% of the respondents, while the other qualities in the Top 5 list trailed closely behind in popularity. Take a look at how the numbers came through:

  • 67% Has high ethical and moral standards
  • 59% Provides goals and objectives with loose guidelines/direction
  • 56% Clearly communicates expectations
  • 52% Has the flexibility to change opinions
  • 43% Is committed to my ongoing training

Since we’re all about good, clear communication around here, #3 on the list above is right in line with the principles we adhere to in our workshops (and in everything we do!).

Of course we support ongoing training for employees, too (that’s #5).  Whatever your position in your company, there’s never too much you can learn about personality styles, behavior, and communication.

Actually, “communication” figured heavily into the responses.

Beyond the Top 5 leadership competencies, if we peek at #6 we’ll find “communicates often and openly” and #8 “creates a feeling of succeeding and failing together as a pack”.  That means 3 out of ten most important leadership qualities are focused on good communication!

Not that we’re surprised, or should you be either.  After all, we’re a social species and connection is important not just for a sense of well-being but also for us to feel confident we’re doing the right thing and proceeding the right way with our tasks at work.

In her study findings, Dr. Giles mentions that our sense of connection may impact how productive we are.  And good communication leads to a stronger sense of connection.  In other words, teamwork is good for productivity, and leaders who display leadership competencies related to communication are doing something right.