The 10 Critical Core Competencies of High Performers

7 16 January, 2013 Comments
Core competencies - The Right Questions

US soldier by morning calm weekly newspaper, via fotopedia

What skills and core competencies do you need to succeed and stand out in the work place?

How do you stand out in the workplace? What abilities must you have to be successful in business? Work in all sectors is increasingly dynamic, and in order to succeed, employees must have the ability to deal with complexity, identify critical information, make sound decisions, and collaborate effectively with people both inside and outside their immediate environment. The problem is, many people lack the skills that employers need to achieve their goals.

CEB, a member based advisory company based in the US, has recently published research looking into this challenge and the results are of vital importance to employers and employees alike. As a consultant friend of mine noted ‘this is gold dust!’ If you are wanting to be hired or looking to hire people then you should be thinking about this list of core competencies.

But before the list, here is Conrad Schmidt, global research officer for CEB, who frames the problem in this way:

“Employees today have more ambiguous objectives and are working with larger groups of stakeholders, making both flexibility and the ability to collaborate ‘must-have’ competencies for companies seeking higher levels of performance. Important business decisions are also being made lower in the organization, putting an even higher premium on good judgment. Building the next generation of high-performers will require organizations to cultivate these skills within their employee base and to be keenly aware of the dramatic shifts occurring in today’s work environment.”

What are the top 10 competencies?

CEB looked at the performance of over 20,000 workers from across the globe, incorporating data gathered from more than 40 different organisations. The conclusion of the study was that there are 10 competencies that, when exhibited together, identify someone as a high performer. The core competencies are:

  1. Ability to Prioritize
  2. Works well in teams
  3. Organizational Awareness
  4. Effective Problem Solving
  5. Self-Awareness
  6. Proactivity
  7. Ability to Influence
  8. Effective Decision Making
  9. Learning Agility
  10. Technical savvy

How can you develop the essential competencies?

Here is a bit of self promotion, but The Right Questions is a framework that identifies and directly addresses the first 8 of these core competencies and is connected to the 9th. The development of the system and mode of delivery is in line with the 10th. Please do read the book and you will find out more!

You might also be interested to know some more about CEB. They seek to equip executives with the information and tools they need to grow their organisations. They provide excellent resources and you can find out more via the CEB’s website ( and you can also download CEB’s Executive Guidance 2013 where the research referred to above was first published.

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