6M | Marketing Strategic Leadership Competency Models to Achieve Widespread Organizational Buy-In
In today’s constantly evolving business environment, organizations face more complex problems than ever before. As workforces continue to become more diverse and competitive, organizations must look inward to leverage and develop their existing talents, in order to tackle these challenges. Pinsight’s 6M Model: 6 Steps to Developing Leaders for the Future of Your Organization, provides organizations with a useful framework for strategic leadership competency development, and in part 3 of a 9-part series on this framework, we will address the importance of marketing your Strategic Leadership Competency Model to achieve widespread organizational buy-in.
How will we ensure understanding and commitment to our competency model from all levels of the organization?
Competency models are crucial to an organization’s strategic leadership development, as they act as a blueprint that defines the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully perform critical functions. After first building a competency model based on the specific knowledge, skills, and attributes that an organization believes its leaders need, the next step in the strategic leadership development process is to ensure that the model is marketed well.
The whole point of developing a leadership competency model is to produce a tool that is useful and promotes intentional growth for employees and the organization. If key stakeholders do not see the value of developing and focusing on the chosen competencies, then organizations risk their competency models becoming nothing more than corporate shelf-ware. Therefore, garnering widespread agreement and support for the competency model is a crucial step in the strategic leadership development process.
Where do I start?
At its foundation, introducing and implementing a new competency model involves creating and navigating organizational change. Therefore, it’s important to consider the barriers to organizational change when trying to generate widespread buy-in for the model. This is an especially challenging part of the process, as leaders are tasked with promoting change, while people are naturally programmed to seek a sense of stability. However, by starting to identify barriers to organizational change, and incorporating strategies that address these pain points into the marketing of the competency model, leaders can work to successfully garner widespread organizational buy-in.
What to Consider When Marketing the Model:
Some of the most common barriers to organizational change are: 1) a lack of connection to a larger purpose 2) process and outcome ambiguity 3) a lack of consistency in content and application, and 4) a perceived lack of individual voice. It is imperative that these barriers are considered when marketing a competency model. Here are some ways leaders can account for the challenges of organizational change, to encourage widespread buy-in:
Challenge #1: Lack of Connection to a Larger Purpose
People won’t support something that they feel doesn’t serve a larger purpose. For employees to see the value in adopting the competency model, leaders must:
- Link the competency model to larger organizational goals. Remind people that the goal is advance the organization by intentionally focusing on equity, opportunity, and growth for all of its employees.
- Frame the competency model as an opportunity for each individual to strategically invest in their own personal and professional leadership development.
Challenge #2: Process and Outcome Ambiguity
Employees won’t back an initiative they are unclear about, so it’s important to clarify processes and outcomes. To do this, leaders should:
- Create an easily accessible written report that outlines the details of the model. Explain how the competencies were identified and break down what they mean. Include a clear description of how the company envisions developing the chosen competencies.
- Capture the likely and desired outcomes from implementing the competency model. Inform people about what they can and should expect— in a written report, if possible.
- Use existing organizational language to ease understanding of the model itself, and to communicate job relatedness and cohesion.
Challenge #3: Lack of Consistency in Content and Application
Inconsistency lowers credibility, which makes people less likely to support an initiative. To demonstrate consistency and generate buy-in, leaders should:
- Ensure that the competencies are internally consistent and that they reinforce each other, instead of advancing competing objectives. 
- Assure people that the model will be applied consistently across the organization. Remind them that the goal is to advance the whole organization, not to target or disadvantage any specific person or department.
- Present a united front. Ensure that those involved in the model’s creation maintain a collective vision of intentionality and determination regarding its implementation.
Challenge #4: Perceived Lack of Individual Voice
People resist change when they feel like they don’t have any say in the matter, so it’s important to invite people to the table and ensure their voices are heard. To do this, leaders must:
- Implement cross-functional steering committees to oversee and monitor the implementation of the competency model.
- Create feedback loops that allow employees at all levels to give their input on the strengths and weaknesses of the competency model and its implementation. Adjust the strategy accordingly, if necessary.
Marketing a competency model is a crucial part of the leadership development; it’s imperative that organizations garner the support necessary to ensure the model’s continued use. However, successfully marketing the model is not enough to ensure that it will be successful: once a set of competencies has been collectively agreed upon, a tool for measuring their strength and development must be created to benchmark the status and progress of the leadership development initiative.
Check back in a couple of weeks when we explore how leaders measure the success of their models. To read this series from the beginning click here.
 Moran, John W., and Baird K. Brightman. “Leading organizational change.” Career development international 6, no. 2 (2001): 111-119.
 Whetten, David A. “What constitutes a theoretical contribution?.” Academy of management review 14, no. 4 (1989): 490-495.
 Campion, Michael A., Alexis A. Fink, Brian J. Ruggeberg, Linda Carr, Geneva M. Phillips, and Ronald B. Odman. “Doing competencies well: Best practices in competency modeling.” Personnel psychology 64, no. 1 (2011): 225-262.
 Campion, Michael A., Alexis A. Fink, Brian J. Ruggeberg, Linda Carr, Geneva M. Phillips, and Ronald B. Odman. “Doing competencies well: Best practices in competency modeling.” Personnel psychology 64, no. 1 (2011): 225-262.‹ Previous PostNext Post ›