The 5 Leadership Competencies

I’ve talked and written at lengths on John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership as (one of my favourites) the foundation for all leadership development. It can serve both as an assessment tool and a set of principles to embody.

Like all leadership principles, however, The 5 Levels has had its share of criticism. People have found it way too simplistic to be actionable. I’m afraid I have to disagree with that because the principles in The 5 Levels are a set of heuristics, not a roadmap. That means you know the why, what, and where of your destination but not how to get there.

Now, that’s a challenge for most people because they aren’t trained to think for themselves even if their life depends on it! I think it’s important to show them the roadmap so they can decide and plan on the journey accordingly.

The above realisation led me to explore and research on the key competencies that serve as an alternative model (adapted from the Leadership Competencies of the Farm Service Agency (FSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)) providing insights on the step-by-step approach to leadership development. I think it answers the fundamental question: “what does it take for one to become a leader?

Here’s what the model looks like:

  1. Leading yourself
  2. Leading projects
  3. Leading people
  4. Leading programs
  5. Leading organisations

I’ll be diving deeper into each of these aspects over the next few days/weeks. For now, you need to understand that contrary to what most people think — leadership isn’t just about managing and leading others. You can’t lead an organisation or the people in it if you haven’t had any experience leading yourself.

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