This article marks the start of our Grow Through Hierarchy series where we will be exploring a framework to develop key influencers in the 14 core competencies of leadership and management, including the four areas of emotional intelligence. Inspiration behind the 14 competencies comes from Harrison Assessments’ work carried out by their behavioural psychologists and years of research into the behavioural success factors for leadership, management and emotional intelligence.

Our Grow Through Hierarchy Management and Leadership model enables us to start to think clearly about management and about leadership and the journey from execution to strategy – a journey which can all too often seem unstructured, unclear and sometimes downright confusing!

Clouds and Dirt

Clouds and Dirt is a term coined by Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author. ‘Clouds’ refers to the macro elements of business – mission, strategy, innovation – which it can be easy to get excited by and think that we need to be doing this every day. ‘Dirt’ is about getting down to the micro level of making something happen, which might not always seem as attractive. But, at the end of the day it’s getting down at that micro level that makes things happen. This is what makes businesses tick. So you need a leadership strategy, you need vision and you need innovation, but once you’ve got that you also need to make it work.

Who am I anyway?

In your role as a leader or a manager, are you operating in the clouds or are you operating in the dirt? In reality it’s probably somewhere in the middle, which can often be seen as a bit of a grey area.

Management and leadership is a common theme, but it can seem like every article or blog we read offers a different opinion on what defines management, and what defines leadership. In some pieces you may read, no distinction is made between the two! From content we read, from personal experience, and from conversations with clients we know that all of this can generate a whole lot of confusion.

You may have experienced this confusion yourself; maybe being promoted from operational level to mid management, or from junior management to senior management. It can be difficult to get clear in your own mind what you’re now expected to do. Are you still managing or are you leading? What knowledge skills and behaviours do you need now for this new level? There are many different levels of management, and different levels of leadership and it’s not uncommon for people to jump straight on to the ladder into a leadership position without having been developed for a management role let alone a leadership role.

We don’t mind sharing that when we were developing our Grow Through Hierarchy model we experienced some of that same confusion – who are we targeting with this? What is management? What is leadership? What are the competencies needed for each category? We had to spend a good deal of time trying to get clarity around what we were really talking about.

… In between the clouds and the dirt there’s a whole lot of fog!

Clarity with Grow Through Hierarchy

As consultants we will try to look for ways to make information more accessible and easier to communicate to a wider audience. So taking the inspiration as we mentioned above from Harrison Assessments’ work with behavioural psychologists and years of research into behavioural success factors for leadership, management and emotional intelligence, we created a structured approach and model to bring some clarity and reduce this confusion.

A framework to develop leaders and managers from dirt to clouds

The Leadership and Management Grow Through Hierarchy model and programme is based around a defined set of measurable behavioural competencies specific to managers and leaders, which guide the development journey, and include the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for management execution and the more strategic elements required for leaders.

The Grow Through Hierarchy model refers to a series of development phases based on a ladder structure, providing managers and leaders with potential for growth and development through these structured phases.

The hierarchical model supports the key elements of a talent management strategy; it can help to open up succession planning opportunities for your current supervisors, line managers and leaders as it enables you to see the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for the various competencies. It can be useful when considering your aspiring leaders and managers to see where their current strengths are, and to identify and define their development needs to enable them to progress. On a personal level it can be helpful to look through the hierarchical levels for yourself – where do you think you might have a bit of a block or a gap in your own knowledge, skills and behaviours which, if developed, could give you better success in your own role?

EQ is the foundation

As we’ve mentioned before, we believe that any robust talent management strategy should be underpinned by both predictive analytics and emotional intelligence as a foundation on which to build.

Developing emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a vital skill for leadership success, as we’ve explored in a previous article, and this is the reason that we’ve included it as the foundation for the Grow Through Hierarchy model. Whether you’re a manager or a leader you need good emotional intelligence, you need to be able to manage and influence your own emotions and the emotions of those around you.

Some of the big corporations out there are now looking specifically at EQ when hiring. You may have come across this already in the job market with the use of EQ questionnaires as part of the hiring process; people are starting to realise that having this skill set in your people can contribute a great deal to an organisation’s performance and success. You can learn knowledge and skills, but it can be harder to learn the right behaviours for emotional intelligence.

The four competencies of EQ are:

  • KNOWING ONESELF: Admits mistakes, manages stress and pressure, is open to feedback from others, and reflects on self-improvement efforts, while at the same time is self-accepting
  • SELF-MOTIVATION AND SELF-MANAGEMENT: Strives to achieve excellence; takes action to benefit from opportunities; has a positive mindset to pursue challenging goals; is adaptive to change whilst staying focused on the intended results
  • SOCIAL AWARENESS AND SERVICE ORIENTATION: Relates to others with empathy and caring; able to achieve win-win outcomes by balancing assertiveness and helpfulness; enjoys contributing to the good of the whole; anticipates customer needs; takes action in the service of the success of the organisation
  • RELATIONSHIP LEADERSHIP: Influences, inspires and guides others to develop their collaboration skills and teamwork; manages interpersonal conflict in order to increase productivity, trust and group synergy

Developing and starting to master this set of knowledge, skills and behaviours can provide managers and leaders with a strong basis from which to progress through the different phases of the model.

Doing the right things, or doing things right?

There’s a great distinction made by Peter Drucker author of The Effective Executive:

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

The Grow Through Hierarchy model is made up of two triangles; an orange one overlaid with a white one, each covering five elements of the structure which correlates to the distinction made by Drucker.

Management modules

The management phase of the Grow Through Hierarchy model is covers the five competencies within the white triangle. This is where the role of a manager tends to be more focused on execution, or getting things done, and getting them done in the right way:

  • COMMUNICATION: Promotes & presents clear vision & initiatives. Speaks up regarding concerns, listens effectively, provides timely and helpful information, & takes responsibility to confirm communications are received.
  • ENERGISING PEOPLE: Motivates others to achieve goals, articulates a common vision, engages team members, relates openly, and empowers others to achieve.
  • LEARNING AGILITY: Gains knowledge from experiences, successes, and mistakes, and applies that knowledge to new situations or responsibilities.
  • PROBLEM SOLVING: Perceptive and logical when identifying problems, finds the source or cause of problems, and thinks through potential difficulties of the solution steps.
  • RESILIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE: Persists in the face of adversity, obstacles, or setbacks including effectively managing a crisis and quickly adapting to change.

Leadership modules

As we move further up the model, the second triangle starts to focus around the competencies that are required at a leadership level to be able to ‘do the right things’, as Drucker states.

The knowledge, skills and behaviours from the five elements of the management phase are of course needed as well, but in the role of a leader more emphasis is placed on these strategic elements and the focus starts to move towards choosing the right things to be done on a long term basis:

  • ACHIEVEMENT ORIENTATION: Consistently achieves objectives, accepts difficult challenges, seizes opportunities, and has a high level of energy and enthusiasm.
  • IMPACT AND INFLUENCE: Influence others to achieve goals, enlists their cooperation, appeals to their interests, builds trust, and negotiates mutually beneficial and sustainable agreements.
  • INNOVATION: Experiments with different ways to improve processes, efficiency, and/or effectiveness while maintaining focus on the desired objective or result
  • LEADING PEOPLE: Takes responsibility to achieve the organization’s mission, provides clear direction, promotes team participation and cooperation, and accepts decision-making authority.
  • STRATEGIC THINKING: Creates effective strategies & long-term plans to seize opportunities, anticipate issues & risks, draws from previous experiences, explores industry Information, and collaborates with the right Individuals.


In this Grow Through Hierarchy series of videos, articles and podcasts we will explore each of the competencies in turn in greater depth, following the structured approach by looking first at the four elements of EQ, then covering the management competencies and moving through to the leadership competencies.

In the meantime, this overview of the model and the 14 competencies it covers may help to clear some of that fog and confusion to enable you to start to think about your own organisation, in terms of your own managers and leaders and their development needs.

We often talk about the Power of 95. Who are the 5% of your organisation who are going to impact and influence the other 95% – your managers or leaders, or key influencers? This model can enable you to start to identify and explore the ‘Power of 95’ in your organisation, by looking at who is responsible for management, who is responsible for leadership. Who sits where in relation to this model and what development do they need? Which set of behaviours and competencies do they need to focus on to be able to progress through your management and leadership structure?

Focusing on the managers and leaders of your organisation in this way – including yourself – can have a huge impact on the success of your business.



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Peak Performance Partnership Ltd (3P) is a Business Performance Consultancy specialising in Talent Management. ASPIRE by 3P is our talent management solution which supports the talent life cycle of Acquisition, Succession Planning, Improvement and Retention & Engagement.

Co-authored by Lindsay McGhie, Trevor Norman and Michelle Manning