The Six Core Competencies of an Effective Leader


There are many competencies that are needed to be effective and just having these 6 does not mean you don’t have or need others.  I have identified 17 that I try to work on and develop in myself.  However, these six are the ones that I have identified as critical for leaders to have for long-lasting, high level leadership success.

The best leaders are people that work on developing themselves.  This takes self-awareness to know what skills they need to work on to go to a new level of leadership.  It’s similar in marriage or parenting, taking responsibility for yourself and working on your own issues and building on your strengths leads to better relationships.

I am a campus pastor for a church that currently has five campuses.  I have been with this church for over thirteen years and previous to that I was a manager in the business of banking and accounting for 15 years.  These competencies are important for mid-level to executive level leaders.  I have tried to define each in practical ways so that you can evaluate yourself on how you are doing with that particular competency.

Here they are:


  • Defines objectives and strategies to meet customer/member requirements and organizational goals and objectives.
  • Manages performance to achieve expected results.
  • Keeps informed of performance through face-to-face meetings, written communications, analytical reports, and performance measures.
  • Keeps supervisor informed of progress, issues, and potential problems.
  • Maintains a cost/effective balance of controls and risk-taking to ensure effective and efficient operation within budget.
  • Identifies and addresses areas of weakness that may affect organizational performance.
  • Freely shares information with team members and superiors
  • Takes full responsibility for results.

Building Trust

  • Communicates an understanding of the other person’s interests, needs and concerns.
  • Makes and meets commitments that contribute to addressing the other person’s interests, needs, and concerns.
  • Takes time to get to know people and genuinely cares about them.
  • Identifies and communicates shared interests and goals.
  • Identifies and communicates differences as appropriate.
  • Addresses perceived harm to the other person by fully acknowledging any harm done, clarifying intentions, and finding a suitable remedy that affirms the value of the relationship.
  • Is quick to admit mistakes and errors. 
  • Asks for and gives forgiveness.
  • Uses a win-win approach to resolving conflicts or conducting negotiations.
  • Develops, maintains, and strengthens partnerships with others inside or outside the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support.
  • Demonstrates honesty, keeps commitments and behaves in a consistent manner.
  • Shares thoughts, feelings, and rationale so that others understand personal positions.
  • Remains open to others’ ideas and opinions even when they conflict with their own.

Developing/Coaching Others

  • Clarifies responsibilities, authority, and expectations.
  • Provides timely guidance and feedback to help staff accomplish a task or solve a problem.
  • Provides guidance in how to strengthen knowledge and skills to improve personal and organizational performance.
  • Provides new assignments and experiences to develop the employee’s capability.
  • Communicates clearly & effectively and develops subordinates.
  • Conducts performance appraisal and feedback on a regular basis.
  • Provides helpful, behaviorally specific feedback to others.
  • Works with employee behavior problems.
  • Shares information, advice, and suggestions to help others to be more successful.
  • Gives people assignments that will help develop their abilities.
  • Regularly meets with employees/leaders to review their development progress.
  • Recognizes and reinforces people’s developmental efforts and improvements.
  • Expresses confidence in others’ ability to be successful.
  • Helps others learn new systems, processes, or programs.
  • Collaboratively works with direct reports to set meaningful performance objectives and then holds them accountable.

Emotional Intelligence

  • Demonstrates an ability to control and filter emotions in a constructive way.
  • Exhibits consideration of the feelings of others when/before taking action.
  • Demonstrates recognition of the various psychological and emotional needs of people.
  • Expresses feelings clearly and directly.
  • Understands ones own fears and unhealthy emotions
  • Is willing to get help when needed.
  • Exhibits humility and persistence.
  • Balances feelings with reason, logic, and reality.
  • Demonstrates an appreciation of the differences in how others feel about things.

Establishing Focus/Setting Direction

  • Acts to align own campus/department goals with the strategic direction of the organization.
  • Ensures that people in the campus/department understand how their work relates to the organization’s mission.
  • Ensures that everyone understands and identifies with the overall mission and values.
  • Ensures that the campus/department develops goals and a plan to help fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Uses effective techniques to define outcomes and expectations.
  • Clearly identifies the target and then sets objectives to focus on.
  • Sets goals for self, campus/department and expects the same from all direct reports.
  • Reviews those goals and objectives in regular one-on-one meetings with direct reports.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Considers and responds appropriately to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of different situations.
  • Relates well with others.
  • Maintains confidentiality.
  • Is likeable and approachable.
  • Communicates in a clear way.
  • Demonstrates consistency and fairness.
  • Anticipates and resolves confrontations, disagreements, and complaints in a win-win way.
  • Is tactful, compassionate and sensitive, and treats others with respect
  • Provides timely and honest feedback in a constructive and non-threatening way.
  • Listens with the intent of trying to understand before being understood.

Lead On