icon 5 Essential Leadership Competencies | HRDQ Skip to content
5 Essential Leadership Competencies - HRDQ

5 Essential Leadership Competencies

Having strong leaders is crucial in any organization. Without them, teams decrease in productivity, client satisfaction plummets, and chaos ensues. But not just any manager is cut out for maintaining order within a company. They must be proficient in these five essential leadership competencies in order for your business to thrive.

HRDQ offers a wide selection of leadership skills training materials, from assessments to comprehensive workshops, games, and more. View our full Leadership Training for managers today!

What are Leadership Competencies?

Leadership competencies are the characteristics, skills, and behaviors that make a person an effective leader. Contrary to popular belief, the most important leadership competencies are soft skills rather than hard skills. Soft skills refer to personal traits and qualities, while hard skills are measurable abilities. Having a mixture of both types of skills is necessary, but embodying the below leadership competencies based on soft skills is a must to be an effective superior.

Explore the Top 5 Leadership Competencies

Below are five leadership competencies every manager must possess to best supervise their team:

High Ethical Standards

Leaders must have high ethical standards to thrive in a variety of workplace settings. Possessing strong morals allows leaders to do the following:

  • Make choices in line with workplace culture
  • Ensure a safe work environment
  • Treat employees with respect
  • Know when a workplace boundary has been crossed
  • Respectfully correct someone when they are wrong
  • Hold each employee to the same standards
  • Prioritize honesty with customers and employees

Without proper ethics and integrity, distrust quickly grows throughout the workplace. Employees and customers alike need to know that there is a leader who is strongly committed to fairness and order, which helps to instill confidence.


Leaders make decisions every day. Whether you’re choosing the color of a logo or selecting who gets a promotion, supervisors need to make these decisions with confidence and certainty.

A large part of effective decision-making includes possessing strong problem-solving skills. Leaders need to be able to keep cool under pressure, use logical reasoning to think through potential solutions, and predict the potential outcomes of their choices to reach the best decision. Making smart, meritable decisions time and time again instills a great sense of trust with employees and clients.


The best leaders take charge of new initiatives and continually innovate ways to improve company operations. Leaders should constantly be looking for current needs in the workplace, inefficient methods, and useful additions. Not only should they point these things out, but they also need to get the project started by doing initial research, forming a team, and outlining how to achieve and implement the project. Innovative leaders inspire their teams and make a lasting impact on the business by improving efficiency and driving revenue.


Without clear and open communication, your business would fall apart. Leaders with outstanding communication skills maintain order by thoroughly outlining expectations, making sure each employee is on the same page, and coaching them through the project, request, or problem at hand. When managers exemplify excellent communication skills, employees will feel more comfortable speaking to them when a problem arises, they think of a new idea, receive a client update, and more. Leaders should note that listening is also a huge part of communication. Employees need to feel that they have been heard and understood to feel secure in opening up.

Conflict Management

Conflict is bound to happen in the workplace. It could occur between two employees, with an employee and a client, within a team, and more. But conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be negative when you have the right tools to combat and overcome it. That’s where leaders come in. Being able to resolve these situations is crucial to ensuring your business runs smoothly.

Conflict occurs when at least two parties have differing goals. In these situations, an effective manager will use conflict strategies to help each party reach a mutually beneficial agreement to achieve their goals. Managers should understand how to encourage each party to collaborate and then assist them in reaching a reasonable compromise through low-stress, open communication.

Improve Leadership Skills with HRDQ

Now that you know the five essential leadership competencies, if you’d like to improve in these areas, explore the full HRDQ Leadership Collection today! If you need assistance selecting materials or facilitating workshops, our training consultants are here to help. Soon, you’ll be guiding, developing, and communicating with your team better than ever before. Start growing your leadership skills today!

Related Products of Interest

Previous article What Are The Most Common Frustrations at Work in 2023?

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.