What is a Leadership Competency Framework?

What is a leadership competency framework?

To answer this question, let’s first define what a competency is.

A competency is a characteristic, skill, attitude, or behavior which when present will result in effective performance on the job. An example of a competency would be:


Communication: Keeping direct reports and leaders informed about decisions, events, and developments that affect them.


Typically, competencies are defined and then categorized into proficiency levels to quantify an employee’s current level of performance and convey a clear path for achieving the next level.

An example of competency levels for the communication competency may look like this:



Shares relevant information and ideas in a timely manner with staff, supervisor/ manager, colleagues and others.


Communicates information in effective, creative ways within the department.


Develops and cultivates information sharing strategies between departments and amongst staff. Establishes a network of contacts/ processes/ strategies to facilitate communication.


So, now that you have a clear idea of how we define a competency, and different levels of succession execution, it is important to understand how we conceptualize a leadership competency framework.

A leadership competency framework is a collection of competencies identified as necessary for success in leadership positions. Organizations typically work from a larger leadership competency library to develop and refine the leadership competency framework relevant for their leaders and their organization.

When developing your leadership competency framework, ensure that it is:

  • Focused on results: How leadership behavior and traits benefit the organization must be clearly linked.
  • Organization-specific: Despite the existence of several universal competencies, not all competencies will be equally valuable to every organization. The competencies you choose need to be well aligned with your business objectives and strategy.
  • Forward thinking: What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. Define what it will take to get your organization to succeed in the future and select your leaders based on those criteria.
  • Clearly tied to rewards: It is vital that there is a quick and appropriate response and acknowledgement to reward employees who meet performance criteria for critical competencies.
  • Accepted: There must be buy-in from all stakeholders.

For more information, we have developed a free guide designed to familiarize you with the steps required to create your own leadership competency framework that reflects the unique characteristics of your organization and your people. Click here to download.

About the Author

Sharon Van Duynhoven

Office Manager

Sharon brings our tests and assessments from the development stage to marketable product. She ensures quality control at every step of a project, edits technical documents and manuals, and artistically enhances reports and resources. She also manages contracts with clients across the globe and answers technical questions.