Core Competencies Examples

35 Core Competencies Examples

As an HR leader, navigating the complex landscape of core competencies can be overwhelming.

You may be struggling with:

  • Identifying core competencies most relevant to your organisation
  • Establishing clear proficiency levels for each competency
  • Developing core competencies across the company

Not having a clear understanding of these can slow down progress and leave your organisation behind in a competitive market.

So continue reading to find out about the 35 most common and useful core competencies examples, and a step-by-step guide to develop core competencies in your company.

But first, let’s start with basics – what exactly are core competencies and why are they important?

What are Core Competencies?

Core competencies are the fundamental strengths or strategic advantages that a company has. 

These can include knowledge, abilities, and skills that differentiate it from competitors.

These core competencies are key drivers of a company’s competitive advantage, says HBR, and are often deeply integrated into its products, services, and culture. A competency is made up of a skill plus how well you can perform that skill.

Competency = skill + proficiency level 

What Are the Different Types of Core Competencies? 

Core competencies can be categorised into three main types:

1. Organisational

These are competencies that define the overarching strengths and capabilities of the entire organisation.

They are typically aligned with the organisation’s mission, vision, and strategic objectives.

For example:

  • Innovation
  • Customer focus
  • Agility
  • Sustainability

2. Functional

These are competencies specific to individual functions or departments within the organisation. 

They represent the specialised skills and knowledge required to perform tasks or roles effectively within a particular functional area. 

For example:

  • Financial analysis for finance professionals
  • Marketing strategy for marketing specialists
  • Project management for project managers

3. Behavioural Competencies

Also known as interpersonal or soft skills, behavioural competencies are related to how individuals interact with others and conduct themselves in the workplace. 

For example:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence

Why is it Important to Use Core Competencies?

Here are some key benefits of incorporating core competencies in HR practices:

1. Recruitment

By identifying and prioritising the most important skills and behaviours needed, companies can improve the quality of their hires, making sure they align with the company’s goals and culture.

Core competencies help you create more precise job descriptions and criteria for evaluating candidates.

 2. Performance Management

Having clear core competencies with defined proficiency levels helps companies set specific performance goals.

This makes performance reviews better and helps find areas where employees can improve.

3. Training and Development

Core competencies serve as a roadmap for employee development. 

HR can design targeted training programs that help employees develop the specific skills and knowledge that are critical to the organisation’s success.

4. Career Pathing and Succession Planning

Core competencies provide a clear framework for what is needed at each level and role in the company. 

This helps employees know how to move up in their careers and helps HR identify potential candidates for succession planning. 

5. Strategic Alignment

Core competencies make sure that everyone in the company is working towards the same big goals.

When HR uses these competencies in different areas like hiring, training, and managing performance, it keeps everyone focused on the company’s main vision and mission.

6. Cultural Cohesion

Core competencies define the behaviours and skills that reflect the company’s values and culture. 

This strengthens the company culture and gives everyone a common understanding of what’s important, helping all employees feel united and focused on shared goals.

Now that you understand why they are important, let’s look at over 30 core competency examples for inspiration.

Top 35 Core Competencies Examples

Here are the 35 most common and useful core competencies examples, complete with definitions and descriptions of proficiency levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

This comprehensive list includes a mix of organisational, functional, and behavioural skills.

This list can help spark ideas for your own core competencies and provide you with a clear idea of how they can be measured.

They are sorted from A-Z for easy reference. 

#CompetencyDefinitionBeginner Level DescriptionIntermediate Level DescriptionAdvanced Level Description
1AdaptabilityThe ability to adjust to new conditions and handle unexpected challenges.Reacts to change; adjusts to new tasks.Embraces change; seeks to understand its impact.Leads change initiatives; adapts strategy dynamically, ensuring organisational resilience.
2Analytical ThinkingThe skill of understanding and solving complex problems through analysis.Identifies basic patterns and problems.Analyses data to inform decisions.Integrates complex data across sources; drives strategic decisions.
3CommunicationThe capacity to convey information effectively and efficiently.Communicates in straightforward situations.Communicates complex ideas clearly in group settings.Excels in persuasive communication; influences and negotiates effectively.
4Conflict ResolutionThe ability to identify, address, and manage conflicts constructively.Recognizes conflicts and alerts supervisors.Mediates conflicts directly to find mutual solutions.Manages complex conflicts, guides others in resolution techniques.
5CreativityThe capacity to think outside the box and generate innovative ideas.Applies basic creativity to tasks as directed.Develops new approaches to improve work processes.Leads innovation initiatives, champions a culture of creativity and experimentation.
6Critical ThinkingThe ability to analyse facts, generate and organise ideas, defend opinions, make comparisons, draw inferences, evaluate arguments and solve problems.Questions facts and seeks clarity.Analyses information to form reasoned judgments.Synthesizes and integrates new information, influencing strategic decisions.
7Customer ServiceThe skills needed to provide support and advice to customers effectively.Responds to customer inquiries.Manages customer issues effectively.Drives customer engagement and loyalty programs.
8Decision MakingThe process of making choices by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative resolutions.Makes simple decisions based on clear criteria.Makes moderately complex decisions considering various factors.Makes strategic decisions under uncertainty, influences organisational direction.
9Emotional IntelligenceThe ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions in oneself and others.Recognizes own emotions and their effects.Manages emotions and responds appropriately to others.Uses emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour, improves team relations.
10EntrepreneurialThe ability and desire to develop, organise, and manage a business venture along with any of its risks to make a profit.Identifies opportunities for improvement.Develops new ideas and initiatives for growth.Drives business innovation and strategic ventures.
11Financial AcumenThe ability to understand and apply financial management principles in the workplace.Understands basic financial terms and concepts.Analyses financial reports and contributes to budget planning.Strategises based on financial data to enhance business profitability.
12InfluenceThe capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something.Persuades peers with direct data or authority.Influences cross-functional teams without formal authority.Shapes organisational strategy and external stakeholders’ perspectives.
13InitiativeThe ability to assess and initiate things independently.Takes on tasks without being told.Seeks leadership roles in projects, suggests innovations.Leads projects and strategic initiatives impacting the broader business scope.
14IntegrityThe quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.Adheres to workplace rules and policies.Demonstrates ethical behaviour, inspires trust.Upholds and champions integrity in complex scenarios, organisational ethics.
15Interpersonal SkillsThe skills used by a person to interact with others properly.Communicates effectively in direct interactions.Builds relationships, mediates in team settings.Masters diplomacy, manages complex stakeholder relationships.
16LeadershipThe action of leading a group of people or an organisation.Directs small teams or projects effectively.Inspires and motivates larger teams, manages performance.Visionary leadership, shapes organisational culture and strategy.
17NegotiationThe ability to reach agreements between two or more parties with conflicting interests.Negotiates simple agreements effectively.Manages complex negotiations, achieving favourable terms.Strategically negotiates major contracts impacting the organisation’s direction.
18Organisational SkillsThe ability to manage time and resources effectively to achieve desired outcomes.Keeps personal work area and tasks organised.Coordinates multiple projects efficiently.Designs and implements organisational systems on a large scale.
19Performance ManagementThe process of ensuring that set performance standards are achieved in a consistent manner.Assists in tracking performance metrics.Manages and improves team performance.Leads organisation-wide performance enhancement strategies.
20Personal DevelopmentThe commitment to improving one’s skills, abilities, and knowledge.Identifies areas for personal skill development.Actively pursues learning and skills improvement.Mentors others and drives a culture of continuous personal growth.
21Problem SolvingThe ability to identify solutions to problems in effective and efficient ways.Addresses straightforward problems.Solves complex problems creatively.Develops innovative solutions to strategic issues.
22Project ManagementThe discipline of planning, organising, securing, managing, leading, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.Manages small, defined projects.Oversees larger projects with multiple stakeholders.Directs major projects with broad organisational impact.
23Quality ManagementThe act of overseeing all activities and tasks needed to maintain a desired level of excellence.Monitors quality standards in assigned tasks.Implements quality control processes.Sets and enforces quality standards across the organisation.
24Relationship BuildingThe ability to establish and maintain positive and effective working relationships.Builds rapport with immediate colleagues.Cultivates strong relationships within and outside the organisation.Leverages relationships to enhance business outcomes and organisational reputation.
25ResilienceThe capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.Maintains performance under stress.Overcomes challenges and rebounds from setbacks.Leads teams through crises, sustaining operational integrity.
26Resource ManagementThe efficient and effective deployment of organisation’s resources when they are needed.Manages resources for individual tasks.Optimises resource use for departmental projects.Strategizes resource allocation across the organisation for maximum efficiency.
27ResponsibilityThe duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.Follows directives and maintains commitments.Proactively takes charge of roles without oversight.Leads by example, ensuring accountability at all levels.
28Risk ManagementThe identification, evaluation, and prioritisation of risks followed by coordinated and economical application of resources to minimise, monitor, and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events.Identifies potential risks in assigned tasks.Manages and mitigates risks in projects.Develops risk management strategies affecting organisational goals.
29Sales EffectivenessThe ability to consistently hit or exceed revenue targets through sales activities.Learns product details and basic sales techniques.Implements advanced sales strategies to meet targets.Drives sales innovation and develops long-term sales strategies.
30Self-ManagementThe ability to prioritise goals, manage time, and maintain a positive attitude in the face of challenges.Manages own tasks and meets deadlines.Sets personal goals and monitors progress.Self-regulates effectively under high pressure, inspiring others.
31Strategic PlanningThe ability to outline business strategies for growth and efficiency.Understands basic planning principles.Able to develop functional strategies.Leads organisation-wide strategy formulation.
32Strategic ThinkingThe ability to think on a broad scale, involving long term planning and consideration of the implications and consequences of proposed actions.Understands and contributes to team strategies.Develops strategies for specific business challenges.Shapes and directs organisational strategy with a long-term perspective.
33TeamworkThe combined action of a group, especially when effective and efficient.Collaborates effectively within a team.Fosters team collaboration and handles conflicts.Leads teams in complex projects, ensuring high performance and synergy.
34Technical ProficiencyThe ability to use technical skills or knowledge to perform specific tasks.Operates basic tools and follows procedures.Applies technical skills to solve job-specific problems.Masters and innovates with new technologies, guiding others.
35Time ManagementThe ability to use one’s time effectively or productively.Manages personal deadlines effectively.Prioritises and schedules work tasks across a team.Optimises workflows and improves time efficiency across the organisation.

Now that you have seen some core competency examples, let’s discuss how to develop them in a structured way company-wide.

How to Develop Core Competencies Across the Organisation?

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Here is a step-by-step guide to develop, implement, and promote core competencies in your company:

Step 1: Identify Organisational Goals and Core Competencies

Begin by figuring out the main goals of your organisation.

Decide which core competencies are needed to reach these goals.

These competencies should include the important skills, behaviours, and attitudes that are key to the organisation’s success.

Also identify role-specific core competencies that reflect the skills, knowledge, and attributes necessary for success in each specific role.

Each person’s competency profile should have a limited number of competencies – usually anywhere from 3 to 6. 

Keeping the number of competencies manageable and limited allows for focused development efforts and clearer performance expectation.

Step 2: Conduct a Gap Analysis

Do a detailed check of the skills and knowledge your employees have and finding out where there are important skills missing. 

You can use surveys and performance data to do this.

Step 3: Create a Competency Framework

Build a clear plan that lists each core competency and explains what these competencies should look like at different skill levels.

This plan will help guide all HR activities like hiring, training, performance evaluations, and succession planning.

Step 4: Communicate the Competency Framework

Make sure all employees understand the competency framework. This includes:

  • Which are the core competencies
  • How they align with the organisation’s goals
  • How they will be measured

 Good communication helps ease the transition by:

  • Getting everyone on board
  • Clarifying expectations
  • Gathering and incorporating feedback before full-scale implementation

Step 5: Integrate Competencies into HR Processes

Put the competency framework into action across all HR activities.

  • Recruitment 

Use the competency framework to shape how you conduct interviews and choose candidates.

  • Training and Development

Create training programs that help employees develop the competencies they need.

  • Measure Competency Development

Measure how well employees are developing and using the core competencies.

While spreadsheets can do the job, consider using HR software like Peoplebox to manage goals, performance, and understand your workforce better.

  • Career Progression Based on Competencies

Design career paths that are aligned with individual and organisational competencies.

Use competency frameworks to guide promotions and succession planning.

Step 6: Monitor and Update Competencies

Regularly review and update the competencies as needed. 

This should align with

  • Changes in the organisation’s strategy
  • Market conditions
  • Feedback received from the implementation process

Continuous improvement will help the organisation stay relevant and competitive.

Step 7: Evaluate the Impact

Periodically evaluate how the competency development efforts are affecting the organisation. 

Use metrics to measure success, such as:

  • Better performance results
  • Higher employee retention rates
  • Positive feedback from employee surveys


Core competencies are critical to a company’s success and growth. 

To effectively integrate these competencies into your HR processes, try Peoplebox today.

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35 Core Competencies Examples