Leadership Competencies Required for OKR Success

Leadership Competencies Required for OKR Success

Countless leadership workshops and courses are on offer and Leadership is a subject that has been written about for centuries –

The Romans had Augustus Ceasar and Marcus Aurelius, Genghis Khan was a famous Mongolian leader, Margaret Thatcher, Catherine the Great, and Cleopatra gave color and valor to history books. Learning from examples is one of many great ways to expand your development. What core Leadership competencies separate great leaders from the rest? And which core Leadership competencies matter most when the success of OKRs and the sustainability thereof is considered?

Despite all of the above the complex challenge of developing leaders, creating meaningful strategies, ensuring execution, and maintaining standards of operational excellence looms large and often proves to be overwhelming for most.

There are numerous leadership competencies, within the context of Agile and OKR leadership, the following are most relevant and important according to our experience.


When we as leaders do not have confidence in ourselves or our OKRs how can we expect others to have confidence in us? OKR/Agile leaders have great confidence in the power of OKRs and themselves.

The type of confidence most relevant to OKR achievement is called social confidence. Social confidence means that when I as a leader walk into a room filled with my co-team members, I have unshakeable confidence in the fact that we will jointly arrive at solutions to our challenges.

Confidence should never be confused with arrogance. Arrogance is when you believe you are better than others. Confidence can be built over time and is a function of the effort and focus you assign thereto.

Building confidence starts with writing down the promises that you make to yourself and others and keeping them. Your broken promises erode both your self-confidence and the confidence others have in you. Confidence is a skill that can be developed and is one of numerous core leadership competencies.


The communication related to OKRs should be clear, consistent, easily accessible, concise, and inspirational to be effective. Communication should also be aligned with the vision, the company culture, and a clear return on investment of time spent communicating.

Inconsistencies in communication combined with a lack of clarity can create both confusion and damage to goal achievement.

Communications should be open, freely shared, and collaborative. Everyone in the organization should have a voice. The communication during check-ins, town halls, and reviews should not only be clear but also positively orientated. A very high standard of Communication is likely to be the most important leadership competency and the most impactful skill on OKR achievement.


OKR leaders should have a thorough OKR education under their belts. You will only be empowered to champion OKRs within your organization if you both went through a suite of OKR courses and practically applied the knowledge gained.

An OKR leader must be an OKR champion within their organization –

An OKR champion is somebody who has a deep level of practical knowledge around OKRs, is an inspirational advocate of OKRs, and willingly fosters ownership (e.g. is an objective or key result owner)

OKR leaders should be highly competent at coaching and should coach their people with positive intent over criticizing. At the heart of coaching lies collaboration towards success. Coaching is a joint discovery process of priorities and how to actualize them.


As OKRs are far-reaching goals and by definition hard to achieve they require a high degree of commitment to be actualized. Apathy or just involved cannot suffice, full commitment from all team members is a foundational requirement for the sustainability and success of OKRs.

The level of commitment of teams is reflected by a culmination and combination of:

Resources and resources capacity building efforts

The degree to which a motivating climate is created by the leadership team

The engagement levels of team members

A co-created and compelling vision

An operationalized purpose statement

A shared value system


When people feel that they are not cared for, insecurities may become rampant, and under those conditions, it is very hard to achieve OKRs. Empathy is one of several leadership competencies that deserves close attention. Generally speaking, people within an organization want:

A career

When we as leaders make the career path, upskilling opportunities, rewards, and methods of performance management very clear to all team members they are more likely to be inspired.

A cause

Generally speaking, people want to know that the job that they are doing has an impact and true meaning. Individually and collectively they are making a difference in society.

A  community

When we truly feel that we are part of something larger than ourselves and we share a practical value system with our team members within an environment of co-creation, we are much more likely to jointly achieve great things

FAQs for “Leadership Competencies Required for OKR Success”

What are the most critical leadership competencies for achieving OKR success?

The most critical leadership competencies for achieving OKR success include confidence, communication, competence, commitment, and caring. Confidence helps leaders instill trust in the OKR process, communication ensures clarity and inspiration, competence involves thorough OKR knowledge and coaching skills, commitment requires dedication to achieving challenging goals, and caring fosters an empathetic and supportive environment.

How does confidence impact the success of OKRs?

Confidence is vital for OKR success because it enables leaders to inspire trust and commitment among their team members. Leaders who exhibit social confidence can effectively collaborate with their teams to find solutions to challenges. Confidence, distinct from arrogance, is developed by consistently fulfilling promises and can significantly enhance team morale and performance.

Why is communication considered the most important leadership competency for OKRs?

Communication is considered the most important leadership competency for OKRs because it ensures that everyone in the organization understands the objectives, strategies, and their roles in achieving them. Effective communication should be clear, consistent, concise, and inspirational, aligned with the company’s vision and culture. Open and collaborative communication during check-ins, town halls, and reviews helps maintain focus and drive towards goal achievement.

What role does competence play in the success of OKRs?

Competence plays a crucial role in the success of OKRs as it involves having a deep understanding of the OKR framework and the ability to apply it effectively. OKR leaders must be well-educated in OKR principles, act as champions within their organization, and possess strong coaching skills to guide their teams. Competence in OKRs enables leaders to inspire and empower their teams to achieve ambitious goals.

How does caring and empathy influence the achievement of OKRs?

Caring and empathy influence the achievement of OKRs by creating a supportive and motivating environment. When leaders show genuine concern for their team members’ well-being and career development, it fosters a sense of security and belonging. Understanding employees’ needs and providing opportunities for growth and a sense of purpose enhances engagement and commitment, making it easier to achieve OKRs collaboratively.

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute