The HR community have been promoting the development of ‘competencies’; behaviours that are deemed to be the right behaviours for leading and managing organisations. Like a lot of fads, this one originated in the USA. The fad has plenty of trappings: assessment exercises, feedback systems, training courses and so on.
But no one seems inclined to ask the validation question:
If managers behaved in perfect accordance with these competencies, would better performance result?
If you ask this question of the protagonists, you get blank looks.
As a result we see lists of competencies which are plausible. We see people development strategies, programmes and the associated resources being devoted to effort which is, at the very least, questionable.
The least that should be done is to establish measures which would tell us more about the relationship between behaviour and performance.
This was the approach taken for the development of Vanguard’s leadership competencies; when leaders behave these ways performance improves. But, of course, Vanguard’s list of competencies is implausible to the conventional thinker, and its plausibility that makes fads sell.