How do you rate when it comes to leadership?

Day in and day out, you are being evaluated as a leader. What results do you get? How do you handle tough challenges? Do you have the right people skills?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a clear picture of your strengths, weaknesses and areas to improve? Wouldn’t it help to know what skills matter most in your organization now — and what you could learn to improve your future prospects?

“Leaders need in-depth feedback from a range of people who know their work — superiors, peers, direct reports, clients, suppliers,” says CCL’s Jean Leslie. “By identifying and measuring important skills, leaders have a benchmark for where they are now and a starting point for improving leadership effectiveness.”

Leslie is the research manager for CCL’s Benchmarks® assessment, a newly updated, 360-degree feedback tool that measures the most critical skills for leadership success. If your HR or training department is using Benchmarks in coaching sessions, workshops or leadership development programs, find out how you might take part. Meanwhile, Leslie offers a look at the critical skills needed for leadership success — and tips on how to take charge of your development.

“For more than 30 years, CCL has studied the on-the-job experiences that teach critical lessons of leadership,” says Leslie. “From this research, CCL has identified 16 competencies that are critical to successful management as well as five potential flaws that may stall or derail a promising career.”

The leadership competencies are:

  • Strategic Perspective
  • Being a Quick Study
  • Decisiveness
  • Change Management
  • Leading Employees
  • Confronting Problem Employees
  • Participative Management
  • Building Collaborative Relationships
  • Compassion and Sensitivity
  • Putting People at Ease
  • Respect for Differences
  • Taking Initiative
  • Composure
  • Balance Between Personal and Work Life
  • Self-awareness
  • Career Management

The five derailment factors are:

  • Problems with Interpersonal Relationships
  • Difficulty Building and Leading a Team
  • Difficulty Changing or Adapting
  • Failure to Meet Business Objectives
  • Too Narrow Functional Orientation

Just as important as measuring and assessing your current skill level is the task of setting goals and creating a development plan. “We’ve found that leaders who have used the new Benchmarks have a clear sense of direction and are ready to take action,” says Leslie.

On your own — or with help from a trusted peer or mentor — you can reflect on the Benchmarks competencies and consider what you do well and not as well, Leslie suggests. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I consider to be strengths, weaknesses or mid-range skills?
  • How might different people have different perspectives of my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Which of my strengths are most important for continued success in my organization?
  • Which of my development needs are most important for continued success in my organization?
  • Which of my mid-range capabilities (not clearly a strength or development need) are most important for continued success in my organization?

Next, think about one or two development goals. You might:

  • Identify a strength to capitalize on.
  • Choose a mid-range capability and make it stronger.
  • Identify a weakness and transform it into a mid-range strength.
  • Compensate for a weakness by owning it and adopting strategies to work around it.

Finally, think about specific experiences you should seek out in order to develop critical skills and reach your goals.

If 360-feedback is not in your future …

You still have many options to steer leadership development for yourself — and to support others to do the same. You can seek out informal feedback, set goals and find ways to get the learning experiences you need.

To get you started, consider these user-friendly guides:

NEXT MONTH: A closer look at the competencies measured by Benchmarks® and the types of experiences you need to develop critical skills.

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