Good leadership in any team or organization of pretty much any size or type is more important than ever in today’s highly competitive and fast-changing world. To answer this question we need to focus on what should be the core content of a leadership development training initiative and then what is the best vehicle we should select by which to deliver it.
Although there are many ways to categorize leadership development, one popular way to do this is to separate it into the two big headings of leadership style and leadership competencies.
Although style is undoubtedly important, a leader’s ability to flex it successfully often rests on the skills that he or she has available in his or her “toolbox”. There is no single answer to this question, but as the chart below indicates, one approach that we can take, which has widespread application in many organizational settings, is to “cluster” competencies into the four areas shown. Starting at the first cluster at the bottom right above-“Functional knowledge”, there are a range of competencies which relate to the extent to which any leader knows about the organization of which he or she is a part in functional terms.
In the next cluster at the bottom left of the chart above is “Personal awareness” or what some may call self-awareness. In the next cluster-“Interpersonal skills”, there are a range of competencies which cover how a leader relates to other people, either one-on-one or one to many. Leadership development training can take many forms and is usually best delivered by conducting a proper training needs analysis exercise for the intended recipients. Thank you for posting this article and articulating the distinction between competencies and styles. Thanks Brenda and I think you make a valid point about cross cultural competencies and diversity.


Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. ReadyToManage is your one-stop shop for world class employee and personal development resources. However, most leaders are not “born” to be effective (or have an “innate” ability to lead) but with a little focus, are “made” or developed over time in order to make the best possible contribution. Leadership style relates heavily to the way that leaders relate to other people and essentially to how they communicate in a range of situations. For this reason a competencies-based leadership development approach may be the best way to put together a structured program.
This will of course vary by organizational type but is general, any leader in any one function should have a basic knowledge or the other major ones and what they do, so as to ensure that effective and intelligent cooperation or teamwork can occur when it’s called for.
The simple idea here is that no leader can manage others until they can understand and manage him or herself.
The ability to think critically and strategically is often key here, as well as the capacity to evolve a compelling vision and manage the resultant journey to be travelled with good project skills and the ability to analyze and solve problems as they arise.
However, in broad terms, early thought needs to be given to whether to focus on leadership style training or leadership competency development. The ten competencies under each of these cluster headings provides a useful starting point to evolve a leadership development approach that can help any organization’s leaders to be better able to cope with the many situations they encounter. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience.


There are others that could have been included in all 4 quadrants of course -its one of the things that is lost in producing a model such as this. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. It is also concerned with the degree to which leaders can change or “flex” their style when circumstances require a new or different approach. Perhaps most important for most organizations amongst these functional areas is customer service and this is therefore often given the greatest focus in this quadrant in terms of training, although financial management and budgeting often runs a close second. In this category are therefore a range of competencies which must be either already relatively well-mastered or which should be developed further.
In general considerably more money is generally invested by large organizations in training or development in this particular cluster, than any of the other three. Some of these (such as ethics or emotional intelligence for example) are not necessarily easy to train or possible to develop quickly. However, these are often foundational skills which will provide a stable foundation upon which other skills can be learned at a later stage.



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