Follow WSA

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

People assume that you can't solve complex problems without a brilliant leader.


Suzanne Murphy, WSA

Last month in the article, 3 Responsibilities of Strategic Leadership, we discussed the responsibilities that are essential in creating an expanded leadership team that is prepared to manage the complexity and change inherent in today's business environment.

This month we will discuss the competencies that a leader must develop in order to successfully deliver on those responsibilities.

Leadership - What is it?
Leadership is the ability to create a vision, build organizational alignment around that vision and strategically deploy resources for the successful execution of that vision.

4 Critical Leadership Competencies - What Makes a Successful Leader?

Results are clear … the key difference between highly successful leaders and just OK leaders is that very successful leaders are conscious and deliberate. Very successful leaders demonstrate focus, passion, a sense of urgency and dynamic agility.

  1. Focus - the ability to clearly set the competitive differentiators for your organization in the marketplace and then focus the energy and resources of the organization toward the achievement of those differentiators.
  2. Passion - building a strong commitment throughout the workforce to achieve demanding yet compelling goals.
  3. Speed - with technology, time to market and customer response time are absolute critical success factors. Having great products and services too late is the same as not having them at all. Being slow in response to customer needs is the best news you can give your competitors. Creating and executing with a sense of urgency is a fundamental requirement for success.
  4. Agility - the ability to adapt rapidly to shifts in the marketplace, in customer demands and in technology. Organizations that are successful do not just cope with change. They ride the wave of change like a surfer, with the same agility and flexibility to shift without missing a beat.

Developing the Competencies

How do you develop these abilities in your leaders? Are competencies like Focus, Passion, Speed, and Agility really teachable?

We believe they are … if you build an organization that supports and requires these as a basis for success. They can't be taught as a set of skills in a classroom. They must be instilled through an imbedded leadership development system.

Success depends on 5 key factors:

  1. Support from Executive Leadership
  2. The Right People
  3. Challenging Work Assignments
  4. Supportive Work Environment.
  5. Leadership Development System, not a skills course.

The most critical factor is the unwavering support of the organization's Executive Leadership. If top leadership champions the development of the 5th element, the leaders that the system produces will ensure a supportive work environment that provides challenging work assignments for the right people as well as building strong leadership teams throughout the enterprise.

From our research, it is clear that teams produced through an imbedded system in an enterprise, are key to long term, sustained business success. Contrary to popular belief, there is no white knight. That is, the “right” Chief Executive will not solve all the problems of an organization.

In reality, the leadership requirements of winning organizations that stand the test of time go well beyond the Chief Executive, extending to the leadership team, as well as to the systems, structures and procedures they put in place. It is the broad leadership and organizational systems of an enterprise that are important over time, especially during periods of high stress and expectations.

If you would like to discuss how to achieve this in your organization please contact Suzanne Murphy at 781-343-4008 or

Related Services

Related Articles

Share |