Knowledge Center

Definitions for the Strategic Leadership Area

Influential – Having great influence on work, direction of work and rapport

Each competency within the Strategic Leadership area can aid in achieving:

  • professional and personal bests
  • stakeholder buy-in, acceptance and value
  • team, institution and community results

At any given time, proficiency for each competency will fall at some point along the outer ring of the framework: Awareness, Application, Mastery, Influence.

The following competency definitions are offered as a guide and are to be used in conjunction with your institution's interpretation of how these competencies can be applied on your campus. 

Leading the Higher Ed Business Model


Serving as a key influencer within the organization by leveraging acquired skills, knowledge and abilities to position both HR and the institution at large for future success.

In Action
  • Proactively seeking to improve HR products, processes or services
  • Taking calculated risks to accomplish HR and institutional objectives
  • Working with institutional leadership to develop and guide organizational objectives
  • Demonstrating the strategic value of HR
  • Understanding and communicating markers of success
  • Analyzing metrics to make informed decisions
  • Asking strategic questions
  • Proposing strategies and solutions
  • Building cross-departmental professional relationships
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have with leading or implementing professional projects?
  • How comfortable are you with professional risk?
  • On what information do you prefer to base your decisions?
  • What are your personal goals and objectives, and how do you plan to reach them?
  • What is your institution’s mission statement?
  • What are your institution’s values?
  • How can you support (or how are you supporting) your institution’s mission, values and goals?
  • How comfortable are you collaborating with others outside of your department?
  • What experience do you have (or opportunities can you think of) with projects outside of HR?

Strategic Postioner


The ability to understand and translate evolving business contexts, expectations and requirements into actions that create a unique value proposition and support the institution’s overall success.

In Action
  • Brainstorming and proposing new ideas and strategies
  • Consulting with other departments
  • Facilitating implementation of new ideas and strategies
  • Innovating effective solutions to problems
  • Taking initiative on tasks, projects or problems
Assessment Questions
  • Are you aware of your institution’s current business goals and limitations?
  • How does your work support these goals?
  • Are you confident in your ability to anticipate and plan for future challenges or trends?
  • When have you or how could you take initiative on a task or project?
  • Have you ever identified potential process improvements?
  • Have you ever proposed process improvements?
  • Have you ever facilitated the implementation of another person’s ideas?
  • Have you ever led implementation of your own proposals or ideas?

Continuous Improvement


The ongoing effort of identifying, setting and achieving goals or objectives.

In Action
  • Anticipating and adapting to change
  • Asking questions to better understand concepts and processes
  • Collaborating with other employees, teams and departments to improve processes
  • Participating in non-mandatory training and educational opportunities
  • Creating and following an individual development plan
Assessment Questions
  • How comfortable are you giving and receiving constructive feedback?
  • What plans, strategies or tools do you employ for your own professional development?
  • How do you react to your own failures or mistakes?
  • Are you comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas?



The process of identifying and communicating the necessary steps, skills and resources required to achieve a desired outcome.

In Action
  • Defining desired goals, outcomes and objectives for a project
  • Communicating expectations and desired outcomes to stakeholders
  • Identifying and securing resources necessary for a project or process
  • Identifying and tracking project milestones
  • Collaborating across departments to achieve set goals
  • Anticipating changes and challenges to a project plan and suggesting alternative actions when necessary
Assessment Questions
  • What experience do you have with designing and implementing project plans?
  • What factors do you take into account during the initial planning steps?
  • Are you comfortable with your ability to communicate goals, progress and feedback to project team members and stakeholders?
  • What methods or strategies do you use to ensure engagement and buy-in for projects?
  • What closing steps do you employ at the completion of a project?

Critical Thinking


The ability to analyze and evaluate an issue in order to form a reasonable solution or judgement.

In Action
  • Asking questions to better understand concepts and processes
  • Keeping an open mind when assessing situations or problems
  • Considering alternative or unconventional approaches and solutions
  • Adjusting plans accordingly when new information becomes available
Assessment Questions
  • What questions do you typically ask when faced with a problem?
  • How do you prefer to go about gathering information?
  • Are you confident in your ability to articulate your ideas to others?
  • Are you comfortable analyzing data and objective information to make recommendations?
  • Do you feel like you are able to adapt quickly to new information or changes?



The ability to spark change by empowering and inspiring others to act.

In Action
  • Building trust and rapport with teammates, supervisors and other leaders
  • Encouraging others by providing the example
  • Participating in cross-departmental activities
  • Taking initiative in problem-solving and process improvement activities
Assessment Questions
  • What methods or strategies do you use to motivate others?
  • What experience do you have collaborating with other individuals and departments?
  • How do you or how might you convince hesitant stakeholders to adopt or embrace an idea or process?
  • What experience do you have in leadership roles?
  • Do you feel that you have built strong relationships with others, both inside and outside of your own team or department?