According to the experts and practitioners interviewed in Building the Leadership Pipeline, leaders need to master 10 key competencies. Three were identified most often:
1. Knowledge and Understanding Outside the Employee's Own Department or Functional Area.
In many cases, career experiences haven’t provided exposure to other areas of government. To remedy this shortcoming, leaders need to understand what other departments or units do and how that work is connected to their own.
2. Knowledge and understanding at the enterprise level.
This is about how all the pieces fit together. It’s also about executive-level work: the tasks, functions, and challenges—including knowledge and understanding of the organization’s relationship to its broader environment—that are important at levels above individual departments or agencies.
3. A broad network of relationships.
Organizations need to help leaders build an extensive network of relationships—across departments and functions, at many levels, and in the organization’s wider environment. As described in the Pipeline report, building and maintaining relationships is of major importance in leadership development programs.
All three of these priority areas focus on boundary-spanning: stretching knowledge, understanding, and working relationships, and exposing leaders to people and aspects of the organization outside their current sphere of operation. It’s also important to note that these are competencies that leaders may not be able to develop on their own; the organization must intervene deliberately to foster development in these areas.
In addition to these three key competencies, jurisdictions and agencies cited seven other specific skill areas that leaders or managers need to develop:
- Getting things done in government or the organization/jurisdiction
- Managing change
- Managing conflict [Tips on how to take a proactive approach to organizational conflict]
- Managing relations with the public
- Managing the media [10 tips towards more effective media relations]
- Managing employees, which includes influencing, motivating, developing, and retaining talent [Mini Workshop: Engagement, Motivation and Leadership]
- Dealing with civil service and personnel policies
Again, it’s revealing that many of these skill areas, not just the top three, require managers to move outside their traditional comfort zones. It’s taken for granted that leaders understand their business units and the technical parts of their work. Beyond this, leaders need to better understand how their units fit into and support the larger organization and enable their jurisdictions/agencies to serve their stakeholders.
For more on leadership competencies and building the leadership pipeline, download Building the Leadership Pipeline.