Competencies are individual collections of behaviors that are observable, measurable, and critical to successful performance. A competency model (CM) is a group of related competencies that come together to describe successful performance. CMs can be used at the micro level to establish functional competencies required to successfully complete a particular position or family of positions.  More frequently, they are used at the macro level to establish core organizational and leadership competencies that are broad based for all employees in a particular organization. Core leadership competency models describe the behaviors for successful performance as a leader.

We develop competency models to identify the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed by your organization to ensure it recognizes, attracts, develops and retains the right talent to achieve its strategies and long-term objectives. The competencies identified can be used to inform a broad series of human resource systems such as performance management, training, selection, compensation, and succession planning.  

Competency Profiling Methods

There are three main ways to collect data in order to develop competencies: interviews, focus groups, or surveys/questionnaires. The focus of all three methods is to gather concrete specific behaviors that can be taught or altered through training, coaching, or other developmental approaches. Once these specific behaviors are identified, they are clustered or grouped into similar competencies. The basic steps to create and use a leadership competency model include:


  1. Identify specific behaviors with constituents: Typically the senior leadership team is tapped to identify the specific behaviors and assist in grouping the behaviors into initial competencies.
  2. Conduct validation with employees: Competencies developed previously by senior leadership are vetted by larger employee population. The purpose is to gather information such as:
    1. Clarity and accuracy of the behavioral and competency statements/definitions.
    2. Relevancy of the behavioral statement to the competency.
    3. Relevancy of the behavioral and competency statements for the employee’s position level.
    4. Relevancy of the behavioral and competency statements for the next level below the employee’s position (if applicable).
  3. Finalize leadership competency model: Based on information from the larger employee population, changes to the competency model may be warranted in order to ensure clarity and relevancy of behaviors and competencies.

Use and Implementation

  1. Develop data collection tool: Create a measurement tool (e.g., general survey, 360 survey, etc.) based on the finalized competency model to collect data. This data is analyzed to create a score for each competency.
  2. Integrate with other human resource areas: Competency scores can then be used to look for strengths, areas for concern, and gaps which can be used for other human resource areas such as selection, promotion, succession planning, training, and/or compensation.


  • Provides a common language and set of metrics to evaluate employee/leader performance.
  • Provides a basis for training and development.
  • Focuses employees on important areas to improve and strengthen.
  • Provides vital information for successful career movement and career planning.
  • Helps organizations to identify and benchmark superior performance.
  • Links organizational strategy with individual performance.