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How to Develop an Understanding of Which Competencies Are Important for Performing Higher-Level Positions, Using the Competing Value Framework

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Given today's business complexity, simply demanding better results is not enough. Organization's changing environments depend upon capable leaders to guide them through unpredictable changes.

The Competitive Value Framework provides a guide to assess our own competencies, the organization's culture and based on those measurements, to develop a personal development plan and improvement agenda (Cameron & Quinn, 2006). Organization's mission, vision and core values typically remain stable over time, this helps individuals set the foundations and understand why and how they should support the organization. By evaluating and aligning the organizations vision, mission and core values with the leadership competencies, we can increase our level of understanding of what is expected of a leader.

We might think that working towards being a leader is an achievable task; however learning ways to balance mid-level manager positions, which requires a totally different set of skills than top level positions, with developing high level leadership skills could be challenging. Leadership requires us to not only improve our skills but to enhance our style and behaviors, changing the way we think and act.

I believe that by comparing the results on the CVF self-assessment we can review the areas that need improvement and focus on a well balanced career plan that will help us develop the necessary interpersonal and leadership skills to succeed as leaders.

Managerial Levels

The levels of management in an organization vary depending on the size and the increase of the work force. The management levels can be classified in three broad categories: Top Level, Middle Level and Low Level. Each management level performs different functions:

Top level - senior or executive management responsible for controlling and overseeing the entire organization. They possess a broadened understanding on how competition, world economies, politics and social trends affects the organizational effectiveness.

Mid-level - managers accountable for a department function; they execute the organizational plans and provide guidance to low level supervisors towards better performance. They have a specialized understanding of certain managerial task.

Low/First level - supervisors or team leaders that usually focus on controlling and directing a specific operation, by assigning tasks, supervising employees, ensuring quality and solving daily problems. They serve as a role model for employees providing basic supervision, feedback, motivation and career planning.

By identifying the sets of skills and competencies, and clarifying roles and expectations, managers can better understand what expected behavior differ across level and can visualize the transition from one managerial level to the next. The variation between each managerial level typically transpires along the lines of time horizon, span of attention toward different domains and range or scope of activities (Belasen, 2000). Low level manager devote more time to direct supervision, monitoring day-to-day procedures and specific goals, while providing feedback and career planning to the direct staff. One of the most difficult tasks on a managerial position is being a Mid-Level manager, who must have strong human relation skills since they function as the link between higher and lower management. The majority of their time is devoted to organizational and directional functionalities, emphasizing on executing the organizational plans in conformance with the companies policies and objectives. They provide guidance to lower level managers towards better performance and results. Top level management spends the majority of their time on developing goals, strategic plans, policies, and making decisions on the direction of the business. At the organizational level, they are responsible for maintaining contact with the outside world; they focus on broader issues that could impact the business and financial performance, ultimately responding to the shareholders for the overall performance.

Performing at Top Level Management

To achieve a top level position, individuals must possess management and leadership skills that are fundamental to achieve superior performance such as: critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, planning, delegation and effective communication.

Higher-level positions, which are perceived as leaders in organizations, required a different set of competencies than middle level positions do. "Leaders" need to build and continuously improve their human relations, interpersonal and leadership skills to positively influence and motivate people toward a common goal. Leadership is an important management skill, as defined by the business dictionary "Leadership is the activity of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this". Several leadership competencies are vision, persuasion, motivation, relations, teamwork, communication, strategic thinking, decision making, integrity, managing conflict, mentoring, among others. A successful leader is one that creates successful levels of value for themselves, their team and their organization (Cameron & Quinn, 2006). Leadership differs from management in a sense that:

Mid-level managers play a key role in vertical organizations because they help translate goals and evaluate how work is performed (Belasen, 2008 p161). Organizations can run thanks to middle managers. A mid-level manager should be performing the above mentioned responsibilities effectively; simultaneously working towards developing the necessary set of skills to rise into the upper management level. In order for this to happen, the mid-level manager must

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