What do your most effective leaders have in common?

Competency modeling is a way to spell out and standardize the leadership characteristics that matter most so you can use them in your hiring, promotion and performance management.

While many of the characteristics of top leaders are consistent over time and across industries, the competencies you use should align with your company’s unique culture and objectives. If your competencies never change, your results won’t, either. In our latest webinar, we focused on using competency modeling to enhance leadership development.

Before you dive in, though, make sure you’re starting with the right competencies. Here are four signs it’s time to update yours.

1. You’ve Changed Your Strategy

A change in strategy could come as a result of a recent acquisition, a shift in your product or service offerings or something you’ve done to adapt to a changing market. If your company previously focused on selling software and you’ve shifted that model to focus on long-term service agreements, for instance, you’ll need sales leaders with different strengths.

2. You’re Trying to Change Your Company’s Culture

Several years ago, Pep Boys began a significant shift in its organizational culture. The company traditionally had the feel of a “boys’ club,” yet more and more of its customers were women who felt intimidated by all the shop talk.

The company re-evaluated its practices for hiring and promoting employees, placing more emphasis on strong customer service. These changes didn’t happen overnight; they required months of planning, developing and executing new competency models across its HR functions.

3. Your Company’s Performance Is Suffering

If you’ve noticed your company isn’t hitting its targets in key areas, you’re receiving more frequent customer complaints or it’s difficult to make progress, it’s time to look at your leaders. You may find many of them aren’t adequately prepared for their positions because you’ve hired or promoted them based on the wrong criteria.

4. You’re Concerned About Your Leadership Pipeline

You may have a strong leadership team now, but how confident are you in the ability of those on deck to lead a few years from now? Strong succession management starts with establishing the right criteria for identifying and developing future leaders. In many ways, the very future of your company is built upon competency models.

Even if your company has already established competency models, keeping them current and relevant can be time-consuming. You’ll likely need extra hands on deck to make it happen, and it’s often helpful to have an objective perspective.