What is it to be a leader? Why do some people lead and some people follow? The answers to these questions concerning leadership, and many more, can be seen in what we observe as well as study in other people. From our observations we then choose to accept or reject those that are favourable or non-favourable to our understanding of what a good leader should be. These observable behaviours are what we categorise as competency.
- impact job performance
- can be measured against established standards; and
- can be improved or learned through training and development
There are many examples of competencies put forward for leadership, and one from the many is that of the work of James Kouzes and Barry Posner who developed a survey called The Leadership Practices InventoryTM. They asked people to indicate from a list of common characteristics of leaders, which were the top things they look for, admire and would willingly follow in a leader. Over twenty years, they asked this of seventy five thousand people.
The results of the study showed that people preferred the following characteristics, in order for their top 5:
- Honesty (Trust)
- Forward-looking (Vision)
- Competent (Self-knowledge)
- Inspiring (Influence)
- Intelligence (not necessarily Academic)
Interestingly some these also correspond to the work of Gardener, Payne and Beasley in their work on Emotional Intelligence (EI), popularised by the books and publications by Daniel Goleman. It is often cited that Emotional Intelligence as being a high factor in leadership, as well as leadership development.