Building Leadership Excellence

“The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It has to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”- Fr. Hesburgh


  • Define the competencies necessary to be a successful and effective leader at Notre Dame
  • Provide development opportunities for the senior leaders at Notre Dame.

Additional Information

  • Leadership competencies were developed by a team and reviewed with the President’s Leadership Council and Deans. Consideration was given to the strategic direction and the mission of the University in creating these leadership competencies. The competencies are posted below. These competencies will be used to inform the programming provided.
  • Participation is based on position and individuals will be included by invitation. The cohort is made up of the President’s Leadership Council, Deans and their direct reports in leadership roles.
  • Programing for this initiative will initially consist of two parts.
    • Building Leadership Excellence Speaker Series – this portion of the program will be open to all members of the specified cohort of senior leaders. Each year the university will host two to three events bringing in thought leaders on topics relevant to leaders at Notre Dame. Following the talk, participants will stay for a reception where they can interact with their peers and build their professional network.
    • Building Leadership Excellence Workshop Series – this two part series will focus participants on Strategy Design and Strategic Communications. Part 1 will focus on taking strategic ideas and turning ideas into a strategic direction for the division. Part 2 will focus on leadership communications to drive results and cultivate followership so each area can more effectively achieve results. The workshop will be attended by 4 or 5 division leadership teams. The series will be offered two to three times, then it will be revised to address two new topics.

Leadership Competencies

People Leadership

Able to communicate with and lead others. Develops others – is a people builder. Builds capability for the organization. Provides a clear vision that people want to work hard to achieve.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Thinks development is simply attending a class.
  • Prefers to select talent – rather than develop it.
  • Does not empower others to act.
  • Does not connect pieces together for teams.

  • Constructs compelling development plans.
  • Will take on those who need to be developed.
  • Effectively and enthusiastically explains the vision.
  • Trusts others to perform.
  • Leads complex organizations – connects interdependent groups.
  • Supports the learning process – helps people learn from failure.

  • Develops a few at the expense of many.
  • Supports the learning process – helps people learn from failure
  • Overly optimistic on how much others can develop.
  • Provides goals at a lofty level.
  • Over-delegates and does not follow up.

Change Leader

Recognizes the impact change has on individuals and the organization. Is able to effectively lead the change process.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Disregards the need for change management.
  • Does not consider group dynamics when implementing a change.
  • Forgets to allow time for change to take place.

  • Plans for change and manages the change process.
  • Uses groups effectively when making change.
  • Understands the culture and how change will be received.

  • May spend too much time on change and become paralyzed.
  • May not work with individuals when needed.
  • May become rigid in approach and miss opportunities.

Organization Influence

Uses influence to navigate the organization. Effectively adjusts approach based on the audience – has a clear understanding of how best to gain support.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Doesn’t know how to navigate smoothly.
  • Not persuasive.
  • Often misspeaks, causing problems.
  • Does not realize the consequences of actions.
  • Builds few or no relationships.

  • Can maneuver a complex situation effectively.

  • Anticipates obstacles and handles them effectively.

  • Adjusts to realities of politics.

  • Sensitive to people and organizations.

  • Effectively builds relationships.

  • May seem manipulative.
  • May not be trusted if actions are seen as not genuine.
  • May only hear what he/she expects to hear.
  • May be overly diplomatic.
  • Relies on relationship at the expense of making tough decisions.

Global Perspective

Is aware of the bigger world. Culturally savvy – able to work across borders in an effective manner. Recognizes the value diversity brings to an organization.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Only has a “local” perspective.
  • Not able to see global influences and impact.
  • Intolerant of differences.
  • Avoids anything new or different.
  • Does not consider or promote diversity.

  • Appreciates local culture but also embraces others.

  • Recognizes what is happening globally and uses this to inform decisions.

  • Considers new ideas – no matter where they originated.

  • Promotes diversity.

  • Uses cultural differences as an excuse to not take action.

  • Discusses cultural /global impact even if not a factor.

  • Relies on in-country practices too much.

Mission Sensitive

Understands and advocates the Catholic Mission and recognizes how it informs all we do.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Misses significance of the Catholic Mission at ND.
  • Uninformed about history and heritage of ND.
  • Takes a strict business view of decisions.
  • Not cognizant of unique organizational issues.
  • May not consider the good of the organization as a whole.

  • Understands the Catholic Mission and considers it in all decisions.

  • Is informed about history and heritage of ND.

  • Can make business decisions consistent with the mission.

  • Has a view of the overall good of the organization.

  • Uses the Catholic Mission as a reason to not act.

  • Uses history of ND to stop change.

  • Misses opportunities because they seem contrary to mission.

  • May overly complicate things because of unique organizational issues.

Sound Judgment

Evaluates options and weighs the benefits versus costs and consequences of taking action. Effectively handles situations that are not clear or have multiple perspectives. Demonstrates sound judgment and takes appropriate risks.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Rarely uses an orderly decision process.
  • May wait too long and agonize to avoid risk or error.
  • Goes with a quick solution without analysis or help.
  • Not comfortable with uncertainty.
  • Prefers things tacked down and sure.
  • Does poorly with fuzzy problems.

  • Makes good decisions based on analysis, wisdom, experience and judgment.

  • Decisions are found accurate when judged over time.

  • Sought by others for advice and solutions.

  • Can act without having the total picture – decisive.

  • Can cope with things being up in the air.

  • May be overly process oriented.

  • May get frustrated when advice is rejected.

  • Does not relate to those who are not data-driven.

  • May become stubborn or unwilling to negotiate.

  • May move on without key information.

  • May frustrate others by not having enough detail.


Communicates a compelling and inspired vision that will move the organization forward in a positive manner. Able to assess new ideas and make connections to the organization.

Over Relied on Strength

  • Cannot sell a vision effectively.
  • Not able to energize others.
  • Does not act as though he/she believes the vision.
  • Uses old solutions – not aware of new techniques.
  • Not familiar with how creativity works.
  • May chill creativity and stifle the initiatives of others.

  • Clearly articulates the future and the possibilities.

  • Speaker who relates well to everyone.

  • Can inspire and motivate entire units or organizations.

  • Is optimistic.

  • Makes connections to new ideas.

  • Works well in creative situations.

  • Use the creative process to find new solutions to problems.

  • May lack patience with those who do not understand or follow.

  • May lack detail orientation some will need.

  • May leave people behind.

  • Cannot distinguish what will work and what won’t.

  • Cannot move to a structured work setting.

  • May not follow through on idea. Lacks details to execute ideas.

Emotional Intelligence

Self aware – recognizes own strengths, weaknesses and limits. Is able to manage these attributes effectively to maximize impact.

Over Relied on Strength

  • May be surprised to know his/her impact.
  • Does not seek feedback or use feedback when offered.
  • Misestimates performance – either too high or too low.
  • Doesn’t learn from mistakes.
  • Doesn’t rely on others.

  • Is aware of impact on others.

  • Seeks and uses feedback effectively.

  • Is balanced in assessing his/her own performance.

  • Gains insights from mistakes.

  • Relies on others where skills are not strong.

  • May be too self critical.

  • May spend too much time on self reflection.

  • May not take action on improvement suggestions.

  • Overly analyzes mistakes.