How to Implement a Leadership Competency Framework

Implementing a competency framework empowers organisations to measure the impact of their talent strategy, and build the kind of dynamic workforce that holds its value even when deluged by new challenges.’[1]

Over many years observing the design and development of leadership competency frameworks across the private and public sectors, there is benefit in considering how to practically implement a leadership competency framework (‘framework’). 

In this article, we will explore this further and delve into the considerations to effectively implement a framework, to bring it to life in your organisation.

What are the considerations?

Many HR generalist practitioners know how to implement a framework from an HR perspective (eg updating position descriptions, interview questions). There are, however, several other key organisational development considerations that will result in better business outcomes throughout your organisation:

What will be your top priorities and timeframe for implementation?

What will you do first? What HR and organisational development areas are a priority for your organisation? An implementation plan for the next two to three years after a framework is developed gives an organisation a good chance of practically implementing it.

How will you link the framework between wider organisation and/or business group vision, purpose and plan, group business plans and team/individual key performance indicators (KPIs)?

This is so leaders at all levels can see a link between the wider organisation direction and their day-to-day work.

How will you measure success?

This could be through developing your framework competencies into 360 reviews with senior leaders and middle managers, performance in partnership guides for managers and development plans for individual team members, in addition to engagement surveys. Implementing benchmark 360 reviews and then doing them again after two years will show progress/improvements in leadership behaviours.

How will your leaders be developed?

You may have some leadership learning programmes in place. Updating and/or designing new programmes with learning objectives and content for different levels of leadership ensures that your learning programmes align with the new framework.

How can you bring your framework to life in everyday use?

Competency cards for coaching conversations

Developing competency cards from your framework can be used as a card sort by your leaders in conjunction with a development plan conversation with their direct reports. This assists leaders and team members to jointly focus on the top three areas for development for the coming year.

You may also want to identify what ‘areas for development’ looks like for each competency to assist with development conversations.

Competency cards for talent identification

Do you know what ‘highly skilled’ looks like for each of your core/leadership competencies? Developing highly skilled statements related to your competencies can assist in talent identification for internal promotion or development and recruiting high potential talent.

Implement plans – pitching to your executive/senior leadership team

An effective implementation plan shows a ‘plan on a page’ incorporating all the above, with a progress report.


Creating a clear implementation plan, incorporating the considerations above, will bring your competency framework to life. It will also provide clarity of direction and demonstrate to your executive/senior leadership team and/or board on how you will implement a leadership competency framework and report on progress over a two-to-three-year period.

Authored by Selena Bernath, one of our leadership specialists.

If you would like some help with developing an easy to use and accessible leadership competency framework, implementation plan, 360 reviews, leadership development and practical tools and resources, contact Nicky on 03 943 2373 or


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