Creating a Competency Model That WorksA friend who hasn’t seen a doctor in years was recently diagnosed with serious heart disease. He was immediately prescribed medication to reduce his blood pressure, control cholesterol, and thin his blood. His wife is fanatically devoted to natural remedies. She found a book arguing for cayenne pepper and garlic to soften and dissolve arterial plaque and clean out blocked arteries. When I asked my friend whether the book had scientific evidence that this worked he replied that the book was full of testimonial letters.

We often encounter similar thinking around leadership competencies. Many executives and HR leaders develop competency models with little to no research on whether they have any connection to outcomes. For example, charisma, time management entrepreneurial spirit, managerial courage, and executive presence are examples of competencies that don’t predict or correlate to levels of employee engagement, profitability, sales, safety, turnover, customer satisfaction, or quality.

Decades ago in graduate school Joe Folkman worked with some of his professors who created one of the first 360 assessments. Joe wrote his PhD dissertation on data he collected from a 360 he developed. Joe went on to become a founding partner in a company that developed hundreds of 360 assessments based on a wide variety of competency models. In 2002 he teamed up with Jack Zenger and took a completely different path to developing, assessing, and strengthening leadership competencies.

Joe has just published a white paper summarizing Zenger Folkman’s extensive and highly successful experience with using an evidence and strengths-based competency model. Key points include:

  • What is the purpose of a competency model?
  • How are competency models created?
  • How our research changed the way we thought about competency models.
  • The importance of focusing on strengths.
  • The illusion of perfection.
  • Correcting fatal flaws.
  • Cross training to build strengths.
  • What are the characteristics of a great competency model?
  • Should competency models be used for evaluation/assessment or development?
  • Embedding competencies in Human Resource systems.

This new white paper outlines the good, the bad, and the ugly of competency models. It’s hot off our e-press and available for download now at Creating a Competency Model that Works.

May you get to the heart of evidence-based leadership development.