Year after year the tireless realization is made that every person and organization must find better ways to collaborate and compete if they want to stay competitive and thrive amidst constant change.

The challenge that decision makers face is the lack of a tool, method or immediate go-to that will lead to surefire success. Instead, “surefire” ways are generated retrospectively; the “this-worked-before-so-it-should-work-now” line of thinking may work in the short term, but long term there will always be new gaps to fill.

What’s needed are leadership competencies that adapt to the situation.

In a data driven world, the presence of ambiguity and obscurity outlive the availability of assurance and conviction, yet the indefatigable need for decision-making leans towards the latter. It’s an unequal balancing-act of thought, analysis, risk, and opportunity.

Paradoxically, the only resolution to solving the intangible is through yet another intangible: leadership.

I say intangible because attributing numbers to leadership isn’t exactly cut and dry, however, make no doubt about it that leadership is both an art and a science. It is a means of learning and doing in the most efficient and effective manner possible to maximize value for oneself and for others.

As stated above, uncharted water is the challenge that leaders face since nobody wants to be accountable for a sunken ship. At the same time, this is the very essence of leading.

To start off the New Year right, below are four leadership competencies to practice daily (not an all encompassing list):

Leaders create value. Yes, this is a very broad definition so how you define value is key here. Value—in my humble opinion—can be separated into three areas of influence: The company, the department or team, and the individual.

In the SEAL Teams there was a pecking order of priority, and it typically (I say “typically” because nothing was ever set in stone) followed the sequence of mission first, team second, and the individual last. Why? Because the individual was always the least significant piece of the puzzle—the higher purpose was always others or the purpose or missions itself. Of course, there were times when the team or individual came first, such as when a mission didn’t make sense or when the consequences outweighed the gains.

They combine action and reflection. Many leaders are good on the “doing” part but lack the ability or willingness to reflect upon their failures. Moreover, if they do open the retrospective lens it’s a myopic view (i.e. their own) rather than a panoramic one (i.e. 360 feedback).

Leaders are students of the game. Lessons don’t stick unless you take the time to understand what happened. Experience may be a great teacher but that presumes you’re a great student. Teaching and learning, leading and following—they’re all part of the same coin as the outputs for one become the inputs for the other.

Along the lines of being a student of the game is the virtue of humility. Humble leaders let their behaviors speak for themselves because their actions are a direct byproduct of their values. More so, they deflect attention from themselves to other people or situations rather than soak up the limelight themselves.

Be purpose driven—and share it. When you have a sense of purpose, a setback doesn’t keep you down. Instead, leaders see setbacks as opportunities for improvement—learning opportunities to fill any gaps in knowledge that previously existed.

There are myriad other interpretations of leadership. However, the only one that matters is that which keeps you hungry to make a difference. What would you add to this list?


This article was written by Jeff Boss from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.