Competencies vs. Leadership Deliverables

Reading time: 4 minutes

The Difference is Obvious 

If you ask a kid in 4th grade about the difference between competencies and deliverables, most will be able to give you a clear answer. A competence is when I can do something well, e.g. I’m good at reading or good at math. Deliverable is the homework that I hand in, my contribution in class or anything else that I produce using my competencies.

If I only have competencies, but don’t hand in homework or take the tests, I will flunk that topic.

In Leadership, Competences Are Too Often Mistaken for Deliverables

While the distinction between competencies and deliverables is clear in most areas of life, it doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to leadership. In fact, most leadership training focuses on competencies in one form or the other (communication skills, personal skills, etc.) However, more often than not, the leader is left without a clear picture of what actions are required before the deliverables have been produced.

What are the Consequences of Ignoring the Deliverables in Leadership Training?

When the deliverables of day-to-day leadership are neglected, the entire organisation suffers.

  • Employees suffer because their leaders don’t know how to turn their intentions into the sort of action that supports their performance and engagement
  • Leaders suffer from overload and contrary expectations. Without a clear picture of the leadership deliverables leaders are torn in opposite directions by staff and bosses. This is a proven way to feeling stressed and insufficient.
  • Organisational performance suffers when leaders across the organisation don't speak a "deliverables language" that employees immediately understand as relevant for their job responsibilities

Let’s Recognise that Deliverables and Competencies are Different - even in Leadership

We teach school kids that deliverables and competencies are two things and that both are needed in order to succeed.

Let’s also recognise the difference between leadership deliverables and leadership competencies.

Leadership Deliverables – What are they?

Leadership Deliverables are a set of responsibilities and behaviours that guide leaders into focused interaction with employees. The sort of interaction that will engage and guide employees to:

  • Perform in sync with the organisations mission, vision and values
  • Understand their own and other people’s work processes
  • Acquire and share relevant knowledge
  • Demonstrate positive collaborative behavior
  • Use and grow their competencies
  • Make sound decisions. Be responsible and accountable
  • Perform in agreed time and quality

Competencies in Leadership – What are they?

Leadership competencies are what reading, writing and math are for 4th graders, i.e. a spectrum of insights and skills that may increase the quality of the leadership deliverables, for example;

  • Professional Insight
  • Cultural insight
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Negotiation Skills 

Why is it Important to Distinguish

It’s important to distinguish between competencies and deliverables and to require and measure deliverables because otherwise we won’t get any. This applies to 4th graders and to grown-ups.

Consequently, leadership training that focuses only on increasing the leader’s competencies will never translate into action.

Leadership Deliverables Translate Existing and Future Competencies to Action

To understand this we need to think about means and ends. A "means to an end" is a way of getting to a given goal. This is true in all areas of life.

Deliverables are the goal we want leaders to reach. Competencies are means. They are qualifications, that may increase the quality of the deliverables.  When leaders know the leadership deliverables, their competency training can reinforce their ability to reach it.

Probably the Only Leadership Program focused on Leadership Deliverables

When Karin Zastrow, the Head of Leadership Development for an international Danish corporation, realized that even the most successful, cross-organisational training in leadership competencies did not bring about a clear and consistent day-to-day leadership, she went looking for what was missing.

After a while she realized that nobody had described to the leaders what the deliverables of good day-to-day leadership looked like. So, she set out to do it. That was the start of Direct Leadership®, which today is a proven leadership concept, appreciated by thousands of leaders around the world, and available in 8 languages. And to this day, Direct Leadership® is probably the only leadership training that gives leaders a model and a method for mastering the essential leadership deliverables.

Boost your Leadership, by mastering the Leadership Deliverables

Direct Leadership® is designed to make leaders succeed by providing the sort of guidance that makes employees shine, be productive and engaged. 

Who is it for?

  • Team leaders
  • Project leaders
  • Leaders of leaders
  • Flat organisations
  • Hierarchical organisations

No matter what particular context you are in or what your title is. If you are a person charged with leading a group of people for more than a week, you can benefit from Direct Leadership®. With our online course you only need to invest 3-4 hours to learn the leadership deliverables that can change your leadership performance forever.

Learn more about the online course Direct Leadership® - The Essential Leadership Deliverables here


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