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
  • 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
Strategic Positioner
  • 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.

Continuous Improvement

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.
  • 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.
Critical Thinking
  • 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 mine when assessing situations, perspectives, implications and consequences.
  • Assists others in critical thinking processes and assists in leading them to solutions to complex problems.
  • 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.