Competencies For a Rapidly Changing World

Business leaders in our “Age of Acceleration” don’t operate in a stable, hierarchical, tightly bounded world. They need different skills than their predecessors – and changing requirements can push even successful managers beyond their comfort zones.

That’s why we partner with Organization Systems International (OSI) to identify critical competencies that can help your organization become more agile, more competitive, and better able to create sustained value in today’s convergent environment.

Disruptive Systems Thinking

The size and complexity of today’s business systems requires leaders who recognize patterns, avoid unintended consequences, and are aware of environmental and social interconnections. Systems thinking, with its emphasis on linkages and interactions, is an essential competency. So are strategic thinking, a global mindset, industry knowledge and technology savvy; we group them under the heading of disruptive systems thinking.


Leading Change

Effective change leaders challenge assumptions, recognize emerging trends, find innovative ways to use organizational capabilities, and move forward despite ambiguity. Key competencies include creativity, agility, risk-taking, vision, drive/energy, and influence. And also, something missing from most models: sustainability acumen, which reveals opportunities for societal and environmental, as well as economic, benefits.



It’s increasingly important to work beyond industry boundaries, creating cross-sector and cross-technology partnerships while involving stakeholders like NGOs, governments, and communities. Ability to work with diverse perspectives is essential, as are interpersonal competencies such as a collaborative mindset, team orientation, assertiveness, conflict management, diplomacy, and relationship-building.


Agile Execution

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Business leaders today must harness data and analytics to meet diverse stakeholder expectations, while also moving faster and handling greater uncertainty than ever before. Agile decision-making and resource allocation require competencies like problem solving, financial acumen, organization knowledge, project management, and team management.


Competency Models

Every organization has different competency needs, and different definitions of successful leadership. With our partner OSI, we leverage interviews, focus groups, surveys and other research to model the knowledge and skills required for exceptional performance across your management team.

These custom competency models draw on Polaris®, OSI’s universal competency model developed over three decades and more than 100 client engagements, to identify the essential interlocking set of competencies needed by your change leaders. The models can also be used to create 360° surveys to give leaders behavior-based feedback from supervisors, peers, and direct reports.

Using Simulation as a "Practice Field" to Develop Strategic Competencies

Strategic leadership competencies are best learned through repeated practice, feedback, reflection, and adjustment. We use realistic business simulations as "practice fields" to accelerate this learning process.

Example: Our Rio Negro Pulp Mill simulation offers the international challenge of building and operating a sustainable business in South America over two decades. Participant teams strive to transform a traditional pulp mill into an industry-disrupting bio-refinery, exercising all the strategic competencies listed above.

For more info about our simulations >

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