The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World

18 March, 2020

What makes an effective leader? Sunnie Giles asked 195 leaders in 15 countries and over 30 global organisations to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74.

The most highly rated at 67% is ‘high ethical and moral standards’. Combined with ‘communicating clear expectations’ at 56%, Giles says “these attributes are all about creating a safe and trusting environment. A leader with high ethical standards conveys a commitment to fairness, instilling confidence that both they and their employees will honor the rules of the game. Similarly, when leaders clearly communicate their expectations, they avoid blindsiding people and ensure that everyone is on the same page. In a safe environment employees can relax, invoking the brain’s higher capacity for social engagement, innovation, creativity, and ambition.”

This competency is about behaving in a way that is consistent with your values. If you find yourself making decisions that feel at odds with your principles or justifying actions in spite of a nagging sense of discomfort, you probably need to reconnect with your core values. 

“Neuroscience corroborates this point. When the amygdala registers a threat to our safety, arteries harden and thicken to handle an increased blood flow to our limbs in preparation for a fight-or-flight response. In this state, we lose access to the social engagement system of the limbic brain and the executive function of the prefrontal cortex, inhibiting creativity and the drive for excellence. From a neuroscience perspective, making sure that people feel safe on a deep level should be job #1 for leaders.”

In this article she’s grouped the top competencies into 5 major themes that suggest a set of priorities for leaders. In Giles’ view they’re all difficult to master, in part because improving them requires acting against our nature, but with deep self-reflection and a shift in perspective she sees enormous opportunities for improving everyone’s performance by focusing on our own.

Read the full article here.

via Harvard Business Review, 15 March 2016