Meta Analysis on Managerial and Leadership Competencies


Jayasheela Patil1 and D. Masthan2

1Vivek Vardhini School of Business Management, Hyderabad.

2King Saud University, Riyadh.

  *Corresponding Author E-mail:




Competency approach to Human Resource Management is at least 40 years old in the advanced countries. But it is relatively a new phenomenon in the Asian countries. The same phenomenon was noticed in India, till it bit the reforms capsule.  As such, with the prevailing global competitive environment, every organization, irrespective of the country of its origin, has found a need to think of excelling by better performance by ensuring their people’s productivity and efficiency. Consequence of this, the organizations across the globe start assessing the competencies of their people. This paper attempts to analyze the significant research carried on competencies for the last decade to know the trend of research. Though the studies found a variety of findings, that are contextual, yet a common and consistent finding noticed is the contribution of competencies towards successful job performance.


KEYWORDS: Managerial and Leadership Competencies, Classification of Competencies, Meta Analysis




Competencies- A Conceptual Background

McClelland’s (1973) research findings indicate that traditional academic aptitude and knowledge content tests as well as school grades and credentials did not predict job performance or success in life and were often biased against minorities.  This research has laid the foundation for studies on competencies.


As such, the word ‘competency’ being a generic word, scholars have tried to apply competency approach both in the context of organization and that of employees.  Prahalad and Hamel (1990), Antonacopouloy and FitzGerald (1996) looked at the competencies from the organizational strategy perspective, while others like  Boyatzis (1982), Burgoyne (1989) and Collin (1989) studied the competencies from the angle of employees. This paper limits its discussion on competencies to its people.


According to Klemp (1980), the job competency is an underlying characteristic of a person which results in effective and or superior performance in a job.


In the words of  Guion (1991), competencies are underlying characteristics of people and indicate their way of behavior or thinking, generalizing across situations and enduring for a reasonably long period of time. Whereas Spencer (1993) defines competencies as motives, traits, self concept, knowledge and skill.  He developed competency models for a variety of industries, government, military, health care and education jobs, which came as publication: “Competence at Work” (1993).  He defined competency as ‘an underlying characteristic of an individual that is casually related to criterion referenced effecting and/or superior performance in a job situation.’  Different competencies may be required by a person for performing different jobs.  In the same way when the same job is performed by different people individually they may not exactly require similar competencies since individuals use different methods/means to accomplish the given task. Recent work (Ulrich, 1995) dwells on the competencies for HR professionals. His study identifies three inner most competencies required for successful HR professionals as, change management, HR functional expertise and Knowledge of business. Scptt (1998) also opines competency as (a) a cluster of related knowledge, attitudes and skills that affects a major part of one’s job; (b) that correlates with performance on the job; (c) that can be measured against well accepted standards; (d) and that can be improved via training and development.  Schippmanna et al. (2000), define competencies as a combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and other individual characteristics (often called KSAs ).


From these definitions we can summarize that what is required of a person to be successful in a given job is competency. The recent researches by Daniel Goleman in ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and Richard Boyatzis, in ‘The Competent Manager’ also reinforce the importance of competencies as essential predictors of outstanding performance.


Classification of Competencies:

Competencies can be classified as following:

Ø  Threshold and Differentiating competencies

Ø  Generic and Specific competencies

Ø  Higher order and lower order competencies

Rao (2003) classifies competencies into four groups;

Ø  Technical (dealing with the technology or know how associated with the function, role ad task)

Ø  Managerial or organizational (dealing with managerial aspects, organizing, planning, mobilizing resources, monitoring and systems use)

Ø  Human or behavioral (competencies that are personal interpersonal and team related)

Ø  Conceptual or theoretical (competencies like visualizations and model building)



An attempt is made in the paper to review the research carried on competency management during 1999-2009.  The discussion gives us a panoramic view on the pattern of research on competencies.  It covers empirical studies undertaken by various scholars in India and abroad.


Athey and Orth (1999) argue that a job related competency is a set of observable performance dimensions, including individual knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors, as well as collective team, process and organizational capabilities that are linked to high performance, and provide the organization with sustainable competitive advantage.


Rao P (1999) study covers the leadership and management skills of effective bank branch managers and makes an attempt to understand their personal and behavioral characteristics.  The study points out that more effective managers, not only do certain things differently from their less effective counterparts, but they also differ in their personal attributes, such as beliefs, values and convictions about their customers, employees and other organizational matters.


Peters (2000) identifies the most critical domains in the science of dental health care administration, then differentiates and ranks job skill, knowledge, and ability (SKA) requirements that are necessary for successful senior dental health care managers today and in the future. Results indicate that senior dental health care executives will need to focus their development on personnel management and leadership issues.

Farah (2001) aims at examining the relationship between the processes and product variables of teaching competencies of the teachers trained through the formal system of education and distance education system, along with comparing the variable like knowledge, attitude, skills and pupils liking.   Findings suggest that there was a significant difference in the knowledge and attitude of the teachers trained through the formal education system and those trained through the distance education system.   But there is no significant difference in the skills used by the teachers and the pupils’ liking for the teachers trained through the formal education system and those trained through the distance education system.


Abraham et al. (2001) used survey research to investigate two general questions concerning managerial competencies and performance appraisal: whether a set of managerial competencies currently being used by organizations to describe successful managers can be identified; and whether organizations are appraising these same competencies as part of their managerial performance appraisal processes. Six competencies were identified as critical to the success of a manager. Findings showed that many of these organizations are not appraising same competencies in their managerial-performance appraisal processes. Study concludes that failure to appraise the competencies reduces the effectiveness of the competencies and the managerial performance appraisal programs.


Lindner (2001) examines perceptions of Ohio State University Extension County Chairs regarding their human resource management competencies and performance of human resource management activities. The study sought to describe the relationship between human resource management competencies and performance of human resource management activities of County Chairs. The highest human resource management competencies perceived by County Chairs were written comprehension, oral comprehension, written expression, information gathering, inductive reasoning, and problem sensitivity.


Shipper and Davy (2002) examine a model of effective management which was developed based on criticism of prior two-factor models. They identify six specific skills and explored their theoretical contributions. Both self- and others' evaluations of the skills were incorporated. The model was tested using both employees' attitudes and performance as measures of managerial effectiveness. Results indicate that others' evaluations of skills were better indicators of employees' attitudes than self-evaluations. In addition, the results support that a complex set of relationships exists among self- and others' evaluations, employee attitudes, and managerial performance.


Srinivasan and Shyam (2002) discuss about the development centre that was introduced by Vysya bank. Accordingly the bank conceptualized, crystallized and adopted an approach plan for improving the skill levels in tune with the market conditions.  For a said position, the different competencies that are required were identified.  All the competencies possessed by officers were measured on a four point scale and feedback was given.


Rao and Annapoorna (2002) use Styles, Delegation and Qualities (RSDQ) feedback model and found that there is 85% chances the Asian Managers change in the direction of performing their roles better after 360 degree feedback .Their study found few percent of the participants showing positive improvement in all areas, half percent showing improvement in communication, caring and increasing market share and others percent participants were found to be more receptive to feedback.


Nuthall, Peter (2002) did a survey on managerial competencies. The study records that there is a very wide range of levels of profitability achieved, presumably due to a wide range in managerial skill levels.  Their study identifies three most important 'Managerial Attributes’, ‘Entrepreneurial Attributes’, and ‘Personal Attributes’ as crucial for success.


Hamlin (2002) attempts to identify the criteria of managerial/leadership effectiveness at the middle and front line levels of management within  a Trust Hospital. Findings suggest that the self-perceptions of managers and the perceptions of superiors/subordinates are very similar, and only differ on a limited number of criterions.


Soundari (2003) studied the process of developing competency models for project managers in software organizations which are in similar lines of business and to see if the outcomes are unique or similar and if similar their extent of similarity.  The study explored different competencies that should be exhibited by the managers. The competency model was based on three competency clusters namely, customer management competencies, performance management competencies and personal competencies.


Vaishali and Mohit (2003) discuss about the importance of competency mapping in banks and how the latter facilitates the organizational restructuring towards meeting organizational goals efficiently.  They suggest that banks need to refurbish their training systems by scientifically identifying training needs with the help of tailored competency tool as this would prevent banks form spending upon such training programmes that do not add to the increased performance of the bank and its officers.


Agut et al (2003) analyze the influence of individual (age, education level, and job tenure) and contextual factors (type of establishment and number of subordinates) on managerial competency needs. Results show that managers from restaurants perceived more competency needs in tourist organization management and communication skills than managers from hotels.  Education level is negatively related to competency needs in customers and employees management and efficiency at work. On the contrary, job tenure is positively linked to needs in customers and employee’s management and facilities and infrastructure management. Age and number of subordinates did not show any significant relation to competency needs.


Agut et al (2003) aims to identify managerial competency needs in the Spanish hospitality industry, differentiate present and future training demands requested by managers, and identify the relationship between managerial competency needs and training demands. Results show that technical managerial competency needs were required mainly in computing, languages, and economic–financial management. Generic managerial competency needs appear mostly in job performance efficacy and self-control and social relationships. All training demands refer to technical issues, while none refer to generic managerial competencies.


Rastogi et al (2004) test managerial effectiveness of top and lower level managers in production and marketing departments in relation to their personality type in private sector organizations. The effect of three independent variables (departments, managerial positions, and personality type) on dependent variable (managerial effectiveness) was studied. Results indicate that management position and personality type are associated with self-perceived managerial effectiveness.


Prasad and Kamalanabhan (2004) present a study of the evaluation and analysis of managerial competencies in a public sector company. Seven competencies identified as critical to managerial success on the basis of relevant literature and the organizations’ expectations were specifically identified. The findings of the study show that the executives of the company concerned were highly competent in their managerial performance.


Sinha and Rai (2004) study the relationship between transformational leadership of superiors and competencies of managers in banking organizations, and the role of self-control as a moderating variable of the relationship between competencies and performance, in case of service(banking)organizations that in particular are perceived to be functioning under a weak work culture.  The study considered three variables, viz a) transformational leadership of superiors, b) competencies and c) performance.  The contextual framework however, was provided by the culture variable.  Findings were: Leadership in general and Transformational Leadership in particular appear to be a key variable related to certain competencies of the subordinate role incumbents, especially in “weak” cultures.  While leadership might have a direction giving and coordinating, the importance of certain characteristics of the subordinates cannot be undermined in making the leader’s efforts succeed.  The competency of the subordinates is one such variable.   Further, the competencies of the role incumbent’s are likely to contribute to the performance. However, self-control and to restrain negative actions when tempted, faced with opposition or hostility from others, or working under conditions of stress, is likely to enhance the positive impact of competencies on performance.


Rao and Rao (2004), comparing star performers with weak performers from a single company study found that:  the strengths mentioned for star performers were larger in number as compared to their weaknesses.  Star performer’s strengths include:  Confidence, Commitment (dedication, hard work, dependability), Job knowledge, Openness, People management skills, Result orientation.   Among the poor performers the common weaknesses seem to be listening skills and interpersonal relations especially in dealing with subordinates. At the same time job knowledge and listening skills were their strengths. Other findings from this study were: 1. Star performers seem to perform some leadership activities much better than weak and average performers. 2. Star performers seem to do things more themselves than weak performers. 3. Star performers seem to be more proactive, innovative, change oriented, active, and communicative. Most other qualities don’t seem to differentiate. 4. Star performers seem to be more likely result oriented, receptive and open to change, communicative, committed, and dependable. 5. Star performers use more of development style while weak performers tend to use besides developmental a little more of benevolent style. 6. Star performers seem to create a climate of dependency and personal loyalty besides a climate of learning, satisfaction, and empowerment.


Khandwalla (2004) attempts to identify competencies that may aid  role effectiveness at senior managerial levels.  The study suggests a close overall relationship between roles and competencies.  Findings suggest that there was a relative deficiency in playing leadership roles and in leadership and interpersonal competencies.  There was greater proficiency in playing strategic and operation related roles and it was found that initiatives management and introduction of innovations were two relatively weak competency categories.  The senior mangers main strengths were in the areas of task execution and contextual sensitivity.


Sagar A (2004) focused her study to analyze the competencies possessed by the employees of a cement manufacturing company at supervisory and departmental head cadres.  The study findings reveal that the supervisors and departmental heads had good team work competencies to lead the departments, but lacked in initiative and drive.


Naik P (2005) conducted the research to map the competencies of successful branch managers, to assess success competencies in bank officers on the basis of business performance data. Findings reveal that high performers are internally motivated, honest and risk takers and they got performance centered self concept.  They are also extraordinary good at people management skills, situation analysis and possess knowledge of business.


Young and Dulewicz (2005) examine the relevance of personal factors and behavioral characteristics (competencies) relevant to effective command, leadership and management in the Royal Navy. The results provide support for the Royal Navy's existing integrated approach to command, leadership and management by identifying four “supra-competency” clusters – conceptualizing, aligning, interacting and creating success – and the related personality and leadership dimensions, which are correlated with high performance.


Prasad (2005) tried to map the competencies of four different role holder’s (DGM, AGM, CM and Faculty) in State Bank of India. The findings of the different groups reveal that while the core competencies classified as critical may vary from role to role, there are certain competencies which are common to all the role holders.


Alec et al (2006) estimate the relationship between managerial competencies and performance at both the individual and organizational unit levels.  Findings suggest that competencies are positively related to individual level performance and that individual managerial performance may be increased by mentoring on a competency system.


Jin et al (2006) test the validity of construct-oriented entrepreneur's leadership competency situational judgment tests and compared the differences of leadership competencies between Chinese technology entrepreneurs and middle/senior managers. Results supported the three-dimensional leadership competency model. Chinese technology entrepreneurs performed worse in interpersonal competency, problem-solving competency and overall leadership competency than middle/senior managers; no significant difference existed in character competency.


Chong E (2007) uses managerial competency assessment method to appraise managers from four East Asian countries and the United States. The results suggest that the assessed competencies of managers from the different nationalities are subject to cultural factors that shape personality and behavioral choices. Outcomes of assessed managerial competencies are likely to be influenced by perceptions of status, the need for consultation and the degree of openness of communication between managers and their subordinates. It also points to the need for organizations to distinguish the more stable technical skills from the culturally-sensitive people skills when assessing and developing managers of different nationalities and cultures.


Rao et al (2007) did competency mapping in three organizations and identified common competencies using behavioral indicators. Results showed no definite patterns and lead to the conclusion that past performance as assessed by 360 degree feedback predictor of future potential as assessed by the assessment centres. The findings seem to be valid irrespective of the nature of competencies assessed and across various categories of employees.


Cizel B et al (2007) tried to analyze the knowledge and skills need for effective job performance.  Respondents were asked about the importance and also present level of managerial competencies (technical and generic) required for effective job performance.   Findings from data suggest gap relating to the perceptions of middle-level managers about the importance and current state of managerial competencies in the tourism sector.


Rao (2007) identifies the qualities of effective managers, leaders and global managers from organizations belonging to two leading business houses of India. Job knowledge came out as the most frequently observed strong point of Indian managers and this cuts across various sectors and business houses. Communication, team work, and hard work came out as other strong points of more than twenty per cent of Indian managers. Short temper, open-mindedness, and inability to build juniors are the most frequently mentioned areas needing improvement. Vision, values, strategic thinking, decision making skills, risk taking, innovativeness, ability to learn from mistakes, learning orientation and self renewal efforts, and cross cultural sensitivity  are other qualities lacking in Indian managers to be called as global managers. These qualities are either not exhibited dominantly or are not received by fellow managers.


Sanghi S (2007) as a case in point, assessed five competencies of the individuals in Hindustan Petro Chemicals Ltd as part of the project to build up human capabilities to match the needs of the future business through development of deep understanding, internal expertise and applications of competency mapping, assessment and development process.


Rubin P (2008) studies the common perception that public sector hospitals are inefficient and ineffective while the privately owned and managed hospitals provide superior care and are more sustainable. His study aims to ascertain the skills and competency levels of hospital managers in South Africa and to determine whether there are any significant differences in competency levels between managers in the different sectors in the seven key functions that they perform; delivery of health care, planning, organizing, leading, controlling, legal/ethical, and self-management. The findings suggest that managers in the private sector perceived themselves to be significantly more competent than their public sector colleagues in most of the management facets. Public sector managers were also more likely than their private sector colleagues to report that they required further development and training.


Hamlin and Susan (2008) did an empirical and comparative case study of UK local government and studied effective and ineffective managerial behavior. It was found that from a total usable critical incidents important discrete behavioral items were identified, of which equal number were examples of “effective” and “ineffective” behavior. A comparison against equivalent findings from the “central government” study reveals high degrees of overlap with almost equal per cent of the “effective” and “ineffective” behavioral items being the same as, similar to, or containing some congruence of meaning.


Nwokah and Augustine (2008) assess the impact of managerial competencies on the marketing effectiveness of the organization.    The findings of the study validate that there is a strong association between managerial competencies and marketing effectiveness of corporate organizations in the Nigerian context.  It was concluded that managerial competencies lead to marketing effectiveness in corporate organizations.


Raju and Masthan (2008), assess the behavioral competencies of Deputy Executive Engineers (DEEs) with the objectives of mapping the behavioral competencies for  the select  Job (DEE), assessing  the level of competencies of  job performers (DEEs), examining the significance of difference in the assessments of four rater groups (self, peers, superiors and subordinates)  and  that of self (DEEs) and others (superiors, subordinates and peers) and analyzing the key dimensions on the thirteen behavioral competencies. Study reveals that there is significance difference in the rating of various rater groups like self-superior and self and subordinate.


Qiao et al (2009) aims to identify managerial competencies required for successful middle managers in China. The findings of this study suggest that team building, communication, coordination, execution and continual learning are critical competencies for the success of middle managers in China.


Wickramasinghe et al (2009) investigated whether there is a set of management competencies that should be possessed by managers irrespective of their areas of functional specialization. Findings suggest the importance of competencies from value and skill clusters than knowledge cluster across all functional areas.


Ramo et al (2009) address the predictive validity of the behavioral approach of emotional intelligence by Boyatzis and Goleman. There are two research questions guiding their study: emotional and social competencies are positively and significantly related with job performance; and emotional and social competencies will be more successful in predicting performance than universal personality dimensions. Findings are: Emotional competencies and personality traits are valuable predictors of job performance and competencies seem to be more powerful predictors of performance than global personality traits.


Chrysolite P (2009) assesses technical, human and conceptual competencies possessed by middle level IT professionals.  Findings suggest that majority of the employees considered themselves as competent in their technical skills and most of the professionals have shown inclination towards human skills compared to technical and conceptual skills.


Mittal and Khera  (2009) aims to ascertain the skills and competency levels of bank branch managers in India and to determine whether there are any significant differences in competency levels between managers in the different sector banks. The seven key functions of managers and behavioral characteristics were assessed.  Results show that managers in the private sector perceive themselves to be significantly more competent than their public sector colleagues in most of the management facets. Public sector bank managers in relation to their counterparts in the private sector banks are reported to require more training and development efforts to perform their jobs efficiently in the changing banking environment.


Arditi and  Balci (2009) evaluate the managerial competencies of female project managers and comparing the results with the managerial competencies of male project managers. The study concludes that female project managers do not differ much from male project managers in terms of their managerial behaviors but perform better in “sensitivity,” “costumer focus,” and “authority and presence.”


Boyatzis and Ratti (2009) study to report data showing competencies that distinguish effective managers and leaders in a large Italian company and in Italian cooperatives by comparing more and less effective managers and leaders. The findings reveal emotional, social and cognitive intelligence competencies predict effectiveness in management and leadership roles in Italian organizations.



A review of research carried out by scholars for the last ten years (1999-2009) in the area of competency management reveals that the research is much more qualitative in nature and widely diversified in terms of coverage of sectors, industries and issues. The research covered both public and private sectors and the nature of industries include education, defense, healthcare, hospitality, tourism, banks, telecom, information technology, cement, construction, FMCG and government organizations including local governments, which also reveal the dominance of service sector in competency mapping. It covered varying demographics including Asian, African, Middle East, European (Italian) and American countries. The studies focused on probing the answers for the questions like: what are the competencies (technical/managerial/leadership) required to perform particular jobs/functions/management positions; how (methods employed) the ‘corporate’ tried to appraise the competencies of managers- managerial/leadership/technical/conceptual/human , that are helpful to the job holders in reaching their high performance; explore the relationship between managerial competencies and the performance; how far a particular training/education given to jobholders would help them in their performance; how far the demographic factors/ personality types/emotional intelligence/genders would have an influence on the competency needs of individuals and their managerial effectiveness, how far the competencies of star performers differ from that of weak performers, how far the self and other groups react to the evaluation of competencies and which are the competency models/frameworks that can be attempted for achieving performance excellence.  Though the studies came out with a variety of common findings, they are also contextual in nature. However, a consistent finding observed in all the studies is the positive influence of competencies on performance of individuals.



Review suggests that competencies are directly responsible for on-the-job performance of the individuals. As such, the research happened in the area of competencies is minuscule when compared to its need and it covered only the limited demographics. However, the  research gaps that future researchers can cover are: why there are no validated (standard) competency models/frameworks covering specific industries and for specific jobs; what is the impact of competency based HR practices on the performance; what is the role of top management/leadership on  competency enhancement of people; how far the emotional intelligence of people is a contributing factor to the performance; and why there is a dearth of competent people(in academia and industry), who can take-up competency studies and what measures would be needed for filling such  gap and the like.



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Received on 11.06.2011                    Accepted on 02.08.2011        

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Asian J. Management 2(3): July-Sept., 2011 page 147-153