College of Business

5 critical leadership competencies

By Vishal Kumar | September 12, 2022

Leadership as a discipline has been studied for a long time. Leaders must be able to lead the organization, lead others, and lead themselves. Leadership competencies contribute to superior performance.

Strong leaders are crucial in any organization. Without them, teams decrease in productivity, client satisfaction plummets, and chaos ensues.

Here are five critical competencies which companies are looking for in today’s workplace. Nurturing them as a leader can play an important role in achieving success.

Business major, Uriah Bryant, Networking
Business major, Uriah Bryant, at a networking event

Visionary Leaders

A clear vision is vital. It forms the basis for defining team goals and provides direction for the team. Visionary Leadership is when a leader inspires others to pursue a long-term vision. It builds on participation, communication, and goal setting. Nelson Mandela is an example of a visionary leader.


Many of these competencies need leaders to have the fundamental quality of self-discipline. Leaders must act not out of their interest, but out of concern for others. They must consider the possible consequences of their actions instead of making rash decisions.

Possibilities for improving your self-discipline include:

  • Making yourself aware of how your decisions affect others
  • Choosing to focus on the needs of others over yourself
  • Managing your time
  • Using your energy
  • Committing to self-improvement


How can employees be aligned with organizational goals if they don’t know what they are? The answer is that they can’t. It is leadership’s job to evangelize these goals and to create awareness of them among the workforce.

Effective leaders can articulate their goals well. Steve Jobs was known for conducting weekly meetings with his teams to provide feedback and in doing so was providing them with regular realignment with his vision.

If a leader is incompetent in managing effective communication, he will make it difficult for his people to connect with the vision.

Conflict Management

As a leader, you need to be ready to manage workplace conflict, sometimes at the drop of a hat. The role of leadership can have a significant impact on the management of conflict in an organization. As such, many leaders use conflict handling techniques to manage conflict.


Trust is a crucial part of every workplace. Most industries operate based on established trust between employers, employees, and consumers. To lead a team, you must prove your trustworthiness to both your superiors and your team members. The more trustworthy you are, the more opportunities you will have to succeed.

Trustworthiness is acquired over time and can only be proven by action. Building trust with everyone in your workplace is an important part of being a competent leader. Here are some examples of how you can improve your trustworthiness:

  • Always meet deadlines and turn in assignments on time
  • Work on delivering reliable and worthwhile results
  • Always follow through on your promises
  • Be forthcoming about your mistakes
  • Focus on honesty in your professional relationships and interactions

Vishal Kumar served in the Indian Navy as a Ship Navigator. Presently he is a Graduate Assistant at the Career Center at Charleston Southern University while completing an internship with a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) in the accounts department. He is entering his second year pursuing a Master of Arts in organizational leadership.

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