Becoming a competency-based organization In 2008, The University of Arizona Leadership Programs staff made the decision to become a competency-based organization, a decision that has had monumental impact on program design, student development, and assessment practices. The first task in the process of becoming a competency-based organization was to create a list of competencies related to leadership that we wanted our students to develop. Competencies can be defined as knowledge, values, abilities, and behaviors associated with effectiveness in completing a task or engaging in a role and can be developed through training and experiences. In creating this list, we drew from competencies embedded in a variety of leadership models and standards as well as those expected of over 500 academic programs across multiple career fields. Once the list was complete, we designed measurements for each competency. We then examined our programs and processes to find creative ways to implement the competency approach in a holistic way. Below outlines some of the methods of our competency based approach.
Competency Setting Using our list of leadership competencies, we have mapped out the specific competencies associated with participation in each experience we offer (event, program, initiative, role, and course). Through this process, we have been able to identify any critical competencies that we do not focus enough on through our offerings and make curricular adjustments to integrate these competencies more intentionally. We are also able to offer tailored experiences based on the competency needs of a specific audience (especially since the competencies are mapped to different academic program requirements). For experiences open to the general student population, our staff has narrowed our competency list to the 35 most critical competencies based on research on student retention, contemporary leadership, career readiness, and academic program expectations. Focusing on these 35 competencies has helped us hone our strategic plan into specific measurable objectives. The competency setting process has provided a way for us to develop experiences that fit student needs in a way that is far more intentional and measurable than we had been using. In addition, the competencies