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

Competencies
  • Demonstrates how HR can be an integral piece in developing and executing the institution’s mission and objectives.
  • Centers HR vision around improving HR products or services, and illustrates the importance of integrating it into the overall institution vision.
  • Possesses skills to position HR and the institution for future success by identifying new opportunities.
  • Takes calculated risks to accomplish HR and institutional objectives.
  • Is perceived as a credible institution activist who builds relationships of trust and influence, and has a clear point of view for building institution performance.
  • Demonstrates that HR leadership is critical as strategic and transformative, rather than solely as transactional.
  • Makes well-informed, effective and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences.

Other Higher Ed Business Model Considerations:

  • Metrics: why they matter and to whom
  • Questioning the work
  • Defining what success looks like
  • Understanding demographics effecting your own institution
  • Building an HR model for the future
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands how HR is an integral part of the overall institution’s business model
  • Asks / acts on how to improve service, processes and products to support the team and institution as a whole

Application

  • Centers HR vision around improving HR products or services, and illustrates the importance of integrating it into the overall institution vision; possesses skills to position HR and the institution for future success by identifying new opportunities.
  • Demonstrates how HR can be an integral piece in developing and executing the institution’s mission and objectives.

Mastery

  • Demonstrates that HR leadership is critical as strategic and transformative, rather than solely as transactional; Takes calculated risks to accomplish HR and institutional objectives.
  • Makes well-informed, effective and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences.

Influence

  • Perceived as a credible institution activist who builds relationships of trust and influence, and has a clear point of view for building institution performance
  • Influences what overall institution success looks like and leads the way in accomplishing it
Sample Interview Questions
  • Tell us about a time when you shared how HR strategies can assist with decision making for other institutional issues.
  • Describe how HR can be an integral piece in developing and executing the institution’s mission and objectives.
  • Describe a time when you demonstrated the ability to see the broadest possible view of an issue or challenge or to project scenarios into the future.
  • Describe a situation when you demonstrated initiative and acted without waiting for direction. What was the outcome?
  • Tell about a time when you anticipated future work processes and made changes to current responsibilities and operations to meet the future needs.
  • Describe a time when you had to take a calculated risk to achieve HR and institutional objectives.
  • Tell us what you believe have been the barriers to see HR as a critical influence for the overall higher ed business model.
  • What would you do to ensure HR is seen as integral force in creating a successful higher ed business model? What would be your top, say 3 priorities in ensuring this?

Strategic Postioner

Competencies
  • Understands evolving business contexts, stakeholder expectations and business requirements, and is able to translate them into talent, culture and leadership actions — Human Resource Competency Study (HRCS), Round 7, RBL Group.
  • Creates a unique value proposition.
  • Does things differently to deliver value and makes choices that are unique and beneficial to the overall institution’s success.

A company’s relative position within its industry matters for performance. Strategic positioning reflects choices a company makes about the kind of value it will create and how that value will be created differently than that of rivals. Strategic positioning should translate into one of two things: a premium price or lower costs for the company (HBS definition). HBS’ value chain and HR’s role within it.

Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands HR practices [need to] change; recognizes when change is necessary to do things better
  • Initiates being involved in creative thinking and brainstorming ideas

Application

  • Recognizes strategic opportunities; assesses which creative ideas and suggestions may work; can plan and operationalize the innovative ideas
  • Manages the creative process of others, brings their ideas to the table, and projects how potential ideas could play out

Mastery

  • Acts on the assessment of creative ideas and suggestions; plans and operationalizes innovative ideas; articulates visions of possibilities in guidelines
  • Anticipates future trends accurately and is poised to implement needed changes; aids other leaders in how to strategically position departments.

Influence

  • Seen as having a highly effective strategic vision; forecasts where institution should be positioned and how to address it
  • Regarded as a proven and respected consultant to team and other groups during complex strategic planning; creates value wherever they go
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a situation that demonstrates your ability to anticipate future trends accurately. Please include why it was necessary to accurately anticipate the trend or trends.
  • Sometimes, we are in situations where our role is less about being the one to come up with creative ideas and more about facilitating the creative process or helping others get their ideas implemented. Describe a time when you played this type of role. What did you do to facilitate the process? What were the results?
  • Describe a time when you demonstrated the ability to see the broadest possible view of an issue or challenge or to project scenarios into the future.
  • Describe a situation when you demonstrated initiative and acted without waiting for direction. What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of when you took a risk to achieve a goal. What was the outcome?
  • Tell us about a suggestion you made to improve the way job processes or operations worked. What was the result?
  • What innovative procedures have you developed? How did you develop them? Who was involved? Where did the ideas come from?
  • Tell about a time when you anticipated future work processes and made changes to current responsibilities and operations to meet the future needs.
  • Give an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your co‐workers or subordinates at work.
  • Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co‐workers. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?

Continuous Improvement

Competencies

Over the past several years, the term "HR Transformation" has been used to describe the way in which HR practices are transformed to align with customer needs and are integrated around organizational capabilities (Ulrich, HR Transformation: Building Human Resources From the Outside In). However, the term can be misleading as it implies that HR is transforming and improving separately from the institution. HR is a part of the entire institution’s change and improvement processes. Therefore, the following emphasizes leading continuous improvement practices that impact the entire institution.

  • Initiates and advocates for conversations about the institution’s future state.
  • Adopts a systematic approach to bring about necessary improvements in existing institution processes.
  • Thinks about big and long-term impact by first making incremental improvements.
  • Easily integrates and translates HR practices with other critical institution practices.
  • Leads the ongoing efforts to improve practices, processes and relationships.
  • Involves all key stakeholders in universal ownership and doesn’t rely on solely an individuals or one team.
  • Easily adapts to anticipated changes.
  • Measures, assesses and implements improvements.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the importance of improving processes
  • Asks questions about processes and adapts to anticipated process changes

Application

  • Understands the importance of improving processes and acts upon it; considers systematic approach to bring about necessary improvements
  • Works with other team members on how to address and handle improvements, and adapting to the changes

Mastery

  • Leads the ongoing efforts to improve practices, processes and relationships; implements and translates practices to others; has vision for long-term efforts
  • Involves all key stakeholders in ownership and assesses accountability measures

Influence

  • Influences how improvement practices play out across the institution; seen as an advocate and has frequent conversations about the institution’s future state
  • A proven and respected individual to lead others and aspects of continuous improvement
Sample Interview Questions
  • What is the most creative idea you’ve had for making your job better? Was it implemented? How was it received by others?
  • Tell me about a time you received feedback from your manager that resulted in improvement in your work.
  • How do you feel about failure? What did you learn from a recent failure?
  • Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake at work and how you recovered?
  • Talk about a time you worked as a team to solve a challenge at work.
  • Tell us about the steps or processes you use to enhance continuous improvement behaviors.

Collaboration is an essential element of continuous improvement, so you want to be sure to learn more about the applicant’s approach to working with others.

Planning

Competencies
  • Converts team and institution goals into action by first creating a road map to achieve them.
  • Initiates the process of turning ideas into sound action plans.
  • Develops effective strategies to achieve individual and team performance.
  • Translates planning into real, tangible results.
  • Thinks ahead during certain and uncertain times.
  • Anticipates and plans for changes.
  • Anticipates negative reactions or resistance and offers alternative solutions.
  • Plans effectively to maximize use of all resources.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Understands the process and steps behind planning and the goals associated with them
  • Establishes priorities for self and others, developing schedules and assignments

Application

  • Initiates the process of turning ideas into a sound action plan; sets clear, realistic and time-bound objectives and goals
  • Converts team and institution goals into action by first creating a road map; translates plan into tangible results

Mastery

  • Investigates possible roadblocks and develops contingencies to redirect tasks; anticipates and plans for change
  • Develops strategies for the organization and coordinates efforts to implement them; Designs methods for implementing plans and for measuring success

Influence

  • Seen as having a highly effective vision; places importance on value of the people and process
  • Influential with team and other groups during complex planning efforts
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe how you develop a project team’s goals and project plan?
  • How do you schedule your time? Set priorities?
  • Of your current assignments, which requires the greatest amount of effort regarding planning? How have you accomplished this assignment? How would you assess your overall effectiveness?
  • Think back to the most complex task or project you've had to develop a plan for and implement. What made the project so complex? Describe your planning process. Who was involved in implementing it, and how did you coordinate efforts? What were the results?
  • Please describe a situation that demonstrates your ability to effectively plan work by breaking it into process steps and then communicating that plan to those involved. In addition, how did you ensure the plan aligns with institutional goals and expectations?
  • Despite our best planning, unexpected events can throw our plans off track. Describe a time when you established priorities and target dates for yourself or others and developed contingency plans for potential roadblocks or challenges. What potential roadblocks or challenges did you identify? What contingencies did you put in place? What was the result with the plan?

Critical Thinking

Competencies
  • Employs self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored and self-corrected thinking.
  • Employs effective communication and problem-solving abilities.
  • Asks relevant questions and formulates and articulates sufficient solutions.
  • Gathers and assesses all relevant information and uses logical and abstract ideas to interpret situations and subsequent solutions.
  • Keeps an open mind when assessing situations, perspectives, implications and consequences.
  • Assists others in critical thinking processes and assists in leading them to solutions to complex problems.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Wants to know about decision making and problem-solving processes
  • Aware of the importance of communication in the critical thinking process

Application

  • Uses effective communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills for department issues.
  • Gathers all relevant information and uses logical and abstract ideas to interpret situations and solutions.

Mastery

  • Uses the effective skills for department and personnel issues. Keeps an open mind when assessing situations, perspectives, implications, and consequences.
  • Leads others in critical thinking processes and leads to a solution for a complex problem.

Influence

  • First person considered for division and possible institution matters involving a complex issue[s].
  • Influences others in ways to approach critical thinking skills for issues and people
Sample Interview Questions
  • What would you do if you have a looming project deadline, but you don’t have all the information to deliver it on time?
  • If you’ve figured out a quicker or more cost-effective solution to a problem, but your manager doesn’t get what you’re saying, what would you do?
  • When you’re in a team, you can easily find differences of opinions on what direction projects should take. How do you find consensus?
  • You have an employee who’s excellent at their job but is blunt and abrasive with colleagues and that’s causing friction in your department. How do you resolve the matter?
  • You’re working on a project and you struggle coming to an agreement with your team about your next step. What would you do to make sure you choose the right direction and get your co-workers onboard?
  • Describe the project or situation which best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
  • Tell about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through?  What was your reasoning behind your decision?
  • Describe a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem. What happened? What did you learn from that experience?

Influence

Competencies
  • Affects actions, behavior, processes and relationships to achieve a common goal.
  • Creates followers who want to follow.
  • Demonstrates influential qualities that spark  change and action with and passion within others.
  • Successfully navigates through risk and change.
  • Embraces the institution’s idiosyncrasies to move teams and projects forward.
  • Builds and maintains trust during successful and challenging times.
Proficiency Level

Awareness

  • Knows the impact or effect influence can have on others perspective, practices and on others
  • Understands what actions and behaviors are needed to influence in order to reach a common goal

Application

  • Demonstrates influential qualities to spark change, action and passion with others
  • Creates followers who want to follow within the team

Mastery

  • Frequently shares influential practices with team and others; builds and maintains trust during successful and challenging times
  • Creates followers who want to follow within team and throughout the institution

Influence

  • Influential in changing practices and behaviors with minimal to no disruption
  • Influences and embraces the institution’s idiosyncrasies to move teams and projects forward
Sample Interview Questions
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to positively influence the actions of others in a desired direction.
  • Tell us about a time when you were able to successfully influence another person about a project approach.
  • What have been some of your most creative ideas that were put into practice? How were you able to convince others this was the approach to take?
  • Have you ever had to influence someone to accept an idea that you knew they would not like? Describe the resistance you met and how you overcame it.
  • Tell us about a time when you had to convince someone in authority about your ideas. How did it work out?
  • Tell us about a time when you used data, facts and reason to influence the outcome of a project.
  • Tell us about a time when you used your leadership ability to gain support for what initially had strong opposition.

 

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