DickersonBakker Blog

leadership team discusses core competencies

6 Core Competency Examples to Focus On When Hiring for Your Nonprofit

There's a good chance that the hiring process for your nonprofit organization is different from others in your industry. However, there’s at least one thing that all hiring processes share: core competencies. 

A basic understanding of core competencies will keep your hiring managers grounded when sorting through candidates. These foundational components are helpful to turn back to when you feel that your hiring methods have strayed too far off track.

What Are Core Competencies?

When sifting through talent options, hiring managers often look for universal skills that may indicate the individual is a good fit for the position. These skills are known as core competencies. 

As it pertains to the nonprofit sector, core competencies are more than just how well a person is able to perform a skill, but also how that performance adds value to the organization. Additionally, these attributes are often tied to the personality of the applicant. 

If someone truly embodies a desired core competency, then they should be a good fit for your team. These are just a few things that hiring teams look for when sifting through a list of applicants. 

Leadership vs. Individual Core Competencies

While you’ll want everyone at your organization to be mindful of common core competencies, leadership members will often embody a few more big-picture qualities in comparison to standard employees and volunteers. Let’s take a look at a few core competency examples among each group.

Leadership Attributes

A strong nonprofit leader wears many hats: mentor, decision maker, supporter, just to name a few. To fill these roles, there are several attributes that help leaders go above and beyond in a nonprofit environment. 

  • Logistical: Leaders must be able to accomplish their tasks in order to move projects and initiatives forward. This might look like delegating tasks to other team members and completing individual tasks in a timely manner.
  • Interpersonal: Having strong communication skills and maintaining positive relationships with colleagues is one way that a leader can model professional skills for others in the organization. To do so requires strong emotional intelligence and conflict management skills. 
  • Self Reflective: Leaders should be able to take a step back and reflect on their performance and take personal accountability. A strong perception of oneself can contribute to how much they are able to grow within their position as a member of the leadership team.

Individual Attributes

Individual attributes differ from leadership competencies by focusing more on the goals of the individual and less on the overall performance of the organization. These may be more closely tied to specific, technical skills and traits that make someone a desirable candidate.

  • Flexibility: Being able to learn and adapt as circumstances change will show hiring managers that candidates are able to complete new tasks as they arise. 
  • Time Management: Things move quickly and often change, so candidates should be able to appropriately allocate time needed to accomplish individual tasks.
  • Motivation: Candidates should be able to keep themselves motivated and stay on top of all assigned tasks. 

6 Important Core Competencies + Examples

To help you determine your organization's core competencies as well as attributes to zero in on during the hiring process, we’ve compiled a list of important core competency examples. With a strong understanding of your core values and how certain attributes can contribute to the overall success, you should be well equipped to bring on skilled and capable individuals.

1. Delegation

Leadership skills go beyond just telling team members what to do. Effective leaders need to assign tasks to the right people who can accomplish tasks well while challenging them to expand upon their skills. 

Being able to delegate tasks appropriately ensures that team members are not overloaded with assignments and can meet upcoming deadlines. Plus, delegating tasks properly will show others that the leadership team trusts them while promoting collaboration. 

2. Positivity

Effective leaders embrace positivity to help motivate and support their team members. This core competency can look like a lot of different things. Being positive means knowing when to give the go ahead on certain initiatives and also being able to support those who might need a little bit of extra help from time to time, without being discouraging. 

3. Interpersonal Skills

Leadership is going to interact with all kinds of people at your nonprofit. To excel in a role like this, look for someone with promising interpersonal skills. This means promoting a feeling of camaraderie, properly addressing conflict, and showing empathy for the people they work with. Someone without a good foundation of interpersonal skills may hinder workplace efficiencies or struggle to effectively communicate. 

4. Planning

A strong leader should be able to anticipate what comes next for the organization and create a clear road map for what lies ahead. This might include needs from stakeholders, financial changes, and staying on top of relevant trends. Looking beyond what’s right in front of you, when it comes to leadership competencies, will be valuable for your organization in the long run.

5. Communication

Communication can easily be tied back to several important skills when hiring for nonprofit leaders. However, in terms of core competencies, a leader must be able to effectively communicate with all kinds of people, including volunteers, other leadership members, as well as donors

To communicate effectively with such a wide range of people, candidates need to adapt to several different communications styles. This core competency also involves truly listening to colleagues and staying positive when giving and receiving feedback.

6. Confidence

To motivate an organization to perform their best work, the leadership team must be both confident in themselves, and the people that they work with. If there’s anything we’ve learned in recent years, it’s that change happens all of the time and we often don’t have the answers that we need. 

In just the spring of 2020, over 1.6 million nonprofit workers lost their jobs. To come back from such a difficult era, it was critical for leadership to show positivity, confidence, and hope for what was to come. Leaders who embrace confidence can help their team to push through difficult times and stay focused on their overall goals and values. 

How Core Competencies Can Shape the Hiring Process

It’s easy to find candidates who check off boxes on your list of desired skills. The challenge is determining how those skills can provide value to your nonprofit organization. Instead of focusing purely on technical skills when hiring, be sure to consider some of the valuable core competency examples from this article. 

DickersonBakker aims to support nonprofit organizations by helping them find well-suited individuals who will make an excellent addition to your leadership team. To do so, we take the time to understand your core competencies and values so you can focus on your day-to-day tasks.

To make the hiring process more efficient, get in touch with the DickersonBakker Executive Search team today!

Back to blog