Leadership competencies at play

For many years, a key service from Workz has been to help organisations with the design and facilitation of their leadership academies and training programs. In many of the solutions, game-based training has been a key component, either through tailormade tools or by integrating one or more of our “off-the-shelf” leadership simulations into the curriculum. The feedback from clients across industries has been spectacular – done right, game-based training can work wonders.

However, we must admit that it has sometimes been difficult to describe in detail how the magic works or to pinpoint which specific simulation or game was best suited to train what leadership skill. Therefore, we were exited when, a few year ago, we were introduced to the Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ competency framework. The framework, which numbers 36 leadership competencies, offers a very helpful structure and shared language for analysing training needs and designing leadership programs and academies. We have since had the pleasure of using the competency framework with several industry leading companies.   

The competency framework at a glance

Korn Ferry Leadership Architect™ is a global research-based and experience-tested competency framework designed to help companies select and develop their forward-looking competencies.

The framework defines competencies as “observable and measurable skills and behaviours that contribute to workplace effectiveness and career success”, and the 36 competencies are divided into four major factors based on their orientation: 

  • Thought
  • Results
  • People
  • Self

Each of the factors are divided into three clusters containing 2-5 competencies. As an example, the factor Results contains the cluster Making Complex Decisions, which again contains the competencies: Manages Complexity, Decision Quality and Balances Stakeholders.  

Nuanced building blocks

What we especially appreciate about the framework can be pinned down to three elements:

  • Shared reference The framework serves very well as a shared language and reference within an organisation. This enables deeper and more nuanced conversations about leadership and organisational development.       
  • Deep understanding - The 36 competencies and their strong scientific foundation can help highlight leadership issues that are often overlooked or addressed in a too simplified way. One example could be how the framework highlights the competency of Managing ambiguity as a key component of being a flexible and adaptable leader.  
  • Building blocks - When designing training activities and development plans, the framework provides very helpful building blocks for defining which competencies are the top priorities for specific functions or at certain management levels. As an example, the competency of Directs work might be extra important for front line team leaders, whereas the competencies of Collaborates and Drives vision and purpose becomes more important at higher levels of management.     

An example of where we have had the pleasure of working with the competency framework was in ISS. We helped the global facility services company with the design of their new Leading the ISS Way academy. Based on 12 selected leadership competencies, the academy was structured around three core modules that combined a blend of learning methodologies incl. simulations and game-based tools. For more information about the project and key learnings from the design process, please visit https://workz.dk/posts/leading-iss.

Our leadership simulations and the framework

In addition to tailormade solutions, Workz offers a portfolio of standardised board-game based leadership simulations, that are available worldwide through a network of local consultancy partners. In many cases we have seen excellent results from using selected leadership simulations to address specific leadership competencies that are of special importance to a client.   

An example of this is Gamechangers®, our simulation on creating results through others in complex organisations without a formal leadership mandate. Seen from the perspective of the Korn-Ferry Competency Framework, the simulation provides an opportunity to reflect on and develop perspectives on a number of targeted competencies:

  • Manage Complexity – Making sense of complex, high quantity, and sometimes contradictory, information to effectively solve problems.
  • Balances Stakeholders - Anticipating and balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders.
  • Organisational Savvy - Maneuvering comfortably through complex policy, process and people-related organisational dynamics.

The Gamechangers simulation focuses very cleanly on bringing these competencies, based within the Thoughts and People factors, to life by providing a training ground where managers can apply their knowledge and experiences, while learning from the game and each other. The simulation becomes a place to take action, to bring the competency into play and to reflect on the leadership decisions and their outcomes.