What makes a successful leader?

What do you think makes a successful leader? Several years ago, we asked leaders throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities that simple question.  We consulted with trustees, presidents, vice presidents, deans and directors throughout our 31 colleges and universities and found out what leaders thought was absolutely essential to leader success both now and in the future.

This thorough query and consultation with over 150 leaders in our system formed the basis for a set of leadership competencies that we now use to develop leaders at all levels.

Over the next year, my Talent Management colleagues and I will be focusing some of our blog entries on exploring our leadership competencies more in depth. We’ll share some tips, tools, and ideas with you.  We also hope to encourage some dialogue among leaders about your ideas of “what makes a leader successful?”

Just to give you a sneak peek of what’s in store, in January we’ll be focusing on “Understands Self and Others.” In my experience, the most successful leaders understand themselves, their style, and how they impact others. Self-awareness helps them build healthy and productive relationships in the workplace.

Over the course of the year, we’ll focus on each of MnSCU’s 11 leadership competencies*:


1)      Understands Self and Others

2)      Acts with Integrity


3)      Values Diversity

4)      Communicates Effectively

5)      Builds Trust


6)      Builds Customer Service Orientation

7)      Builds Organizational Talent

8)      Demonstrates Good Stewardship


9)      Articulates Vision and Mission

10)   Builds Organizational Capacity to Meet Future Challenges

11)   Demonstrates Effective Decision Making

So now that I’ve shared this list of competencies, what do you think makes a leader successful?

(*MnSCU’s leadership competencies are customized, yet they map very well to other well-respected leadership competency models, including Lominger, PDI, and Zenger-Folkman.)


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