Think You Need a Leadership Capability Framework?

The benefits of having a capability framework are dependent on how well it’s designed and implemented.

By Sam Robinson

A quick search online will tell you that capability frameworks are popular these days.

There are plenty more. The benefits of having a capability framework are dependent on how well it’s designed and implemented. There’s little value in a framework completed in isolation that no one in the organisation knows about. And it doesn’t help much either to have something focused solely on a narrow set of “capabilities” e.g. only personality dimensions or ambiguous traits (which could be a symptom of designing the framework in isolation).

Capability frameworks are relatively complex systems (ways of organising work) that cut across many parts of the business. As such, they need both cross-organisational input and leadership at such a level that the framework can be continually integrated back into organisational systems. In other words, there needs to be a link between capability expected of people who fill different roles and each of the following: recruitment and selection, training and development, performance and recognition. There must be linkages to the overall strategy of the organisation. What does the strategy imply about the human ability needed now and in the future?

The benefits of a leadership capability framework, if done well, can be:

  • A standard that – when applied – is seen generally as a fair indicator of someone’s suitability for a role
  • A way to see what is expected if someone wants to move to another role
  • A way to reflect on how well a leadership team is going
  • A way to target and design training and other interventions    

If you think you need a leadership capability framework, a very useful question is why. What led you to this point? What is going on that would imply now is the time to design one? I can’t emphasise this enough: purpose is vital. What do you intend to achieve? You need a framework that is used and is productive in achieving the organisation’s purpose.

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