Refound’s Competency Model

Refound’s leadership system focuses on three core areas: Authority, Alignment, and Accountability. These areas each contain the essential mindsets and behaviors that drive a leader’s success and organizational impact. Through them, we can measure a leader’s ability to authentically and productively express themself as a leader, encourage growth among their team members, and leverage their unique leadership style to deliver results for their organization.

Refound’s Competency Model

Refound’s leadership system focuses on three core areas: Authority, Alignment, and Accountability. These areas each contain the essential mindsets and behaviors that drive a leader’s success and organizational impact. Through them, we can measure a leader’s ability to authentically and productively express themself as a leader, encourage growth among their team members, and leverage their unique leadership style to deliver results for their organization.

More leaders, more problems measuring success.

Organizations can spend countless dollars and seemingly endless amounts of time (sometimes years!) developing leadership competency models that measure the growth and effectiveness of their leaders effectively. Getting to a clear list of what to measure and track to help

Many leadership competency models are notorious for tracking too many skills, categories, competencies, capabilities, and proficiencies in a single model. While trying to cover all the bases, models can tend to be intricate, time-consuming to read, difficult to understand, and nearly impossible to execute upon.

This approach to measuring leadership, in our experience, can be counter productive. Being overly prescriptive in your vision for leadership can prevent your leaders from evolving with your organization and with market demands. They can be too prescriptive about what leadership looks like and therefore serve to diminish diversity of thought and the models of leadership that are allowed to thrive within an organization. Overly detailed models can also be too overwhelming for leaders to execute on, thereby preventing any desired progress.

Back to basics.

At Refound, we firmly believe in the power of simple solutions. Instead of measuring every possible leadership and management skill, we focus on developing the core behaviors and mindsets of a leader—the basis for their potential to influence and directly affect outcomes your business is looking for.

We’ll leave it to you to measure for whatever sales goal, marketing metric, or revenue target your business needs to grow and thrive, but we know as a result of our work with thousands of high performing leaders the foundations of leadership are what allow an individual to perform in all aspects of their work. Regardless of company and industry, the foundations of leadership are surprisingly consistent because the problems leaders face are pretty similar—even if the specifics are different every time.

In our experience, 90% of leadership problems fall into what we see as three main challenges:

  • How a leader shows up to lead
  • How a leader sets expectations
  • How a leader coaches and supports through feedback

At Refound, we call these capabilities Good Authority, Good Alignment, and Good Accountability. The Refound System is based on how those capabilities work together to create an environment where everyone is doing the right work, in the right way. You can think about this as the network effects of leadership—get the basics right and you’ve set yourself up for success no matter the specifics of the situation a leader might find themself in.

Our behaviors and your skills, a love story.

We get it, you probably already have a long list of skills you’re working on yourself and with leaders at your organization. As you scroll through the 17 specific competencies on our list, we suspect you'll find some overlap. But what probably sets our list apart from yours is a focus exclusively on behaviors and mindsets.

We focus on behaviors and mindsets because we know remarkable and consistent outcomes come from leaders who are thinking and acting in consistently good ways, flexing to their everyday context. We also know that skills (like running a 1:1 meeting) can miss the nuance and situational factors all leaders face. For example, if you only practice giving feedback in a singular context like a 1:1, you might find yourself unprepared to give feedback while someone's in a meeting or when there's a major news event happening or when someone's struggling in their personal life.

We've crafted our competencies to flexibly fit with the skills you might already be building in your leaders today.

Good Authority

Good Authority is the difference between supervising and developing a team. It encompasses the behaviors and mindsets that encourage personal growth so that leaders spend less time doing the work beyond their core responsibility and more time supporting others to achieve innovative results for their team and organization. Leaders adopting this mindset notice that intentionally creating space for team members to grow and own their work naturally reduces the need for leaders to exert their authority to see results.

01. Demonstrates self-awareness

A people leader's knowledge of their impact—in other words, owning how your values, personality, needs, habits, and emotional responses negatively or positively affect your actions and, as a result, your team. It's a leader's knowledge of their tendencies, biases, and assumptions. The leader isn't over or underconfident but is self-reflective of their authority's impact on those around them.

02. Seeks feedback for growth

A people leader's ability to request, digest, and incorporate constructive criticism to improve their leadership approach. Leaders who prioritize listening to feedback model accountability and growth for their team. It demonstrates the mindset that personal and professional growth is never finished, and one must take ownership over their development to see results.

03. Leads with curiosity

The ability of a people leader to actively listen and ask open-ended questions before taking action or making assumptions. Leaders with this mindset understand there is something to learn in every situation, and by modeling productive curiosity, they foster trust, candor, and improved decision-making on their team.

04. Models healthy behavior

A people leader's ability to set standards for moral, ethical, and professional conduct. Leaders who model good behavior create a level playing field. By living and working according to their standards of professional conduct, they show others the type of behavior they want to see from their employees, enhancing the overall feeling of belonging, trust, and collaboration on their team.

05. Leads through change

A people leader's ability to maintain focus and productivity through times of uncertainty, even without having the whole picture. Leaders who carefully and intentionally navigate changing conditions while keeping their cool instill confidence and trust among their team members.

06. Demonstrates resilience

A people leader's ability to face adversity and approach challenges as an opportunity for growth. Leaders with a resilient mindset see failure as minor setbacks, creating the personal conditions that enable them to guide their team through adversity without losing optimism. Leaders who practice resilience also foster resilience in their teams.

07. Creates space for growth

A people leader's ability to create opportunities and space for others to step up, take ownership, and grow. It's a willingness to let others lead and resist solving their challenges for them. Creating space for growth starts with the mindset that people are capable of more than what their current performance demonstrates and that by stepping back, a leader creates space for others to meet their potential.

Good Alignment

Good Alignment is about removing the false gap between your business objectives and the personal and professional goals of the people on your team. It's about translating company-wide objectives into something personally meaningful for each person on the team. Good Alignment creates an agile environment where managers can adapt to an organization's shifting priorities simply by refining team expectations and personalizing their approach. It encompasses the behaviors and mindsets that enable leaders to align their team's goals so that each team member is simultaneously reaching their individual development goals. Through Alignment, leaders foster engagement, initiative, and momentum. 

08. Sets purpose and expectations

A people leader's ability to define clear expectations and professional development goals for each person on the team. It's the ability to create role and behavior agreements with their team based on individual needs, potential, and motivations. By connecting their team's goals to the broader team and organizational objectives, leaders naturally increase the motivation and engagement among their employees.

09. Inspires ownership

A people leader's ability to provide a level of oversight and guidance to team members that define and inspire ownership of work without being overbearing. Striking that balance requires just the right amount of involvement. It's the ability of a leader to be intentional about how available they are to their team and what level of urgency warrants their intervention. This process helps team members develop a sense of autonomy by creating an implicit agreement that they should own their problems rather than rely on a manager. Leaders inspire ownership by giving their team the space and trust to hold the decisions, challenges, and results they bring to the organization.

10. Acts transparently

A people leader’s ability to give their team the full picture and access to the right information at the right time in order for their team to be successful. Acting transparently is a leader’s bias toward openly sharing the broader context that their team needs to make and hold decisions. This means involving team members in the right conversations and decisions. Acting transparently allows a leader to help their team feel less like an observer of their organization and more like active participants. By giving access to the full context and picture, leaders encourage better communication, deeper ownership, and improved accountability among team members. 

11. Acts inclusively

A people leader's ability to foster a team climate where diverse identities, abilities, and perspectives inform better, more inclusive decision-making. Leaders who acknowledge, value, and incorporate the diversity of their team can leverage their perspectives and life experiences in constructive ways that benefit the group and the organization.

12. Balances empathy with ownership

A people leader’s ability to understand the needs of their team and to anticipate their feelings and thoughts. It’s about actively listening to the concerns of their team members as a key barometer to tackle outstanding issues and for opportunities to support growth and accountability. Empathetic leaders appreciate and engage the perspectives of others, even when they do not align with their own. This enables leaders to understand and actively work to improve their team's personal and professional experience at work.

Good Accountability

Good Accountability is about upholding the expectations, standards, and goals people leaders set for themselves and their team. It encompasses the behaviors and mindsets that enable a leader to receive and deliver feedback, encourage their team members to own their work, and feel confident in their team's ability to meet and exceed their goals. Leaders practicing accountability will feel empowered to be their team's coach and mentor rather than their boss.

13. Coaches through feedback

A people leader's ability to give timely feedback that is specific, actionable, and focused on encouraging team members' professional and personal growth. Feedback should implicitly communicate the employee's potential to grow beyond their current role. Coaching through feedback empowers team members to hold themselves accountable for missteps while proudly owning their successes too.

14. Promotes personal growth

A people leader's ability to positively motivate their team to grow, innovate, and achieve objectives. Leaders who promote personal growth foster an environment where people feel safe taking creative risks without fear of reprisal, so that team members have the space to try new things (knowing they may not succeed at first). By doing so, team members are more likely to push themselves outside of their comfort zone and into a better version of themselves. It requires a leader to actively create the opportunities that ask people to stretch and allow them to achieve remarkable results.

15. Drives results

Driving results is a leader's ability to develop a shared purpose, vision, and bond among their team members—so that team objectives align with the goals and values of the organization. Developing a shared purpose with clear milestones that define success helps leaders earn a reputation for fairness, consistency, and integrity.

16. Develops a culture of accountability

A people leader's ability to cultivate a culture where constructive feedback is shared freely among team members. It's a leader's ability to focus feedback on unconstructive mindsets and behaviors that lead to lower performance and ultimately inhibit individuals from reaching their potential. Leaders foster this culture by being consistent and compassionate in their accountability conversations and by encouraging team members to hold each other accountable. It’s also a leader's ability to encourage their team members to lean into uncomfortable conversations and not to avoid conflict in order to support growth and the behaviors that drive results.

17. Evaluates fairly

A people leader's ability to receive, process, and evaluate information to make well-informed, objective decisions. Leaders with this competency resist the urge to make negative assumptions or jump to conclusions after receiving new information. Instead, they give team members the benefit of the doubt, assume their positive intentions, and ask open questions before drawing any conclusions or making decisions. Leaders who approach situations objectively foster a climate of trust, respect, and accountability among team members, ultimately driving results by reaching solutions more efficiently.

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