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Leadership is one of those terms that we all understand, yet each definition differs. There are a few commonalities that seem to be universally acknowledged. Probably the most agreed upon is that leadership is not a position, it’s about inspiring behaviour.

Leadership Competencies follow the same line of thinking. We can all list a number of leadership competencies which we believe are relevant, yet how many leadership competencies are there, and how do we know which ones are pertinent in which situation?

We have all experienced being led, and some of us have been leading, from a very young age.

The origins of leadership are almost impossible to peg, with a formal word being formulated in Latin several centuries ago. Why is that relevant? Because the practice is so much part of our lives that we don’t even recognise that it’s happening.


Defining Leadership

Leadership is having the ability to motivate a group of people to give their best in achieving a common goal. There is an enormous amount of social influence that a leader has which stimulates others to exert their maximum potential. Leaders make their team feel as if they are not only part of a goal, but also as if the final attainment is theirs.

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

Warren Bennis

To get a deeper insight into what leadership really is, Jacob Morgan states that a “cohesive definition of leadership within an organisation is crucial for developing future leaders and maintaining unity and s strong leadership focus.” Read his full article entitled What is leadership, and who is a leader?


Defining Competencies

Competencies refer to the knowledge, skills, experience, abilities, and behaviours required in management. This definition of competence is taken from Dr Elana Siew’s book, Competence Refined, available on


Defining Leadership Competencies

The upper most leadership competency is social intelligence. Those who not only understand themselves and others (Emotional Intelligence) but also the environment and how to best react or respond are most likely to operate effectively and yield the best outcomes.

When considering the 15 most vital leadership competencies, AIHR Digital presented the following description:

Leadership Competencies

Since ability, experience, knowledge, skills, and behaviour are the critical components of competence, each area would require an in-depth discussion to uncover which leadership competencies are most crucial in which situation.

The competencies implemented by leaders are exhaustive, and include practices such as influencing, empowerment, and integrity are all commonly related to leadership. The truth is that leadership has nothing to do with a title, position, or power. Leadership competencies are what enable a leader to achieve the results that they strive for.

One of the difficulties in detailing leadership competencies is the range and variety of leadership styles, each one embracing different form of competence.

The package which makes a leader successful determines the competencies needed to be effective. The environment, nature of the final goal, and personality and culture of the followers will all dictate the composition of competencies required.

Some of the commonly admired leadership competencies include:


Being a competent leader is about losing yourself and allowing others to find themselves to actualise their potential. Through this both you and your followers breed success. The leadership competencies required to achieve this will depend completely on the leader who drives the process.