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Leadership Skills

At Cornell, there are a core set of Skills for Success that People Leaders can utilize to empower and inspire their team.

Integrity: Leaders support and model integrity.

People feel respected and engaged.

  • Convey respect and professionalism in interactions.
  • Seek to understand and then to be understood.
  • Put others at ease, and respond calmly even in difficult situations.
  • Be honest and trustworthy; have a high standard of personal conduct.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and errors, take timely corrective action, including an apology if appropriate.
  • Demonstrate empathy and compassion for others.
  • Give, ask for and act on feedback.
  • Manage conflict, taking uncomfortable or unpopular action when necessary. 

Inclusion: Leaders promote a culture of belonging. 

People feel like they belong.

  • Create an environment of trust.
  • Demonstrate respect for all individuals.
  • Actively invite new ideas, alternatives and perspectives.
  • Integrate workplace flexibility as a part of a results oriented work culture.
  • Speak up and take action if others are being excluded or treated inappropriately.
  • Acknowledge the support and contributions of every person. 

Vision: Leaders inspire and articulate connection of the team's goals to the university mission.

People know how their work aligns with university and team goals.

  • Understand the University’s strategic goals and deliver aligned outcomes.
  • Be adaptable, embrace, promote and implement change.
  • Deliver results today with a sustainable future in mind.
  • Demonstrate foresight and imagination to see possibilities, opportunities and trends.
  • Model stewardship within the organization and University.
  • Monitor and re-evaluate decisions, priorities and plans in order to achieve a vision.

Communication: Leaders facilitate communications between staff, colleagues and leadership.

People are informed and heard.

  • Listen first.
  • Share important information and decisions in a timely manner.
  • Ensure people have a clear understanding of the expectations and desired result.
  • Convey thoughts clearly, verbally and when writing.
  • Adapt messaging to audience.
  • Summarize other points of view to confirm understanding.​

Initiative: Leaders empower staff with the support to take initiative.

People are supported and confident in taking ownership of their work and results.

  • Encourage anticipatory thinking to identify challenges and opportunities early.
  • Actively support others in taking initiative and responsible risks to innovate.
  • Use mistakes as opportunities for learning.
  • Balance the need to seek input and the need to take action.
  • Provide clear directions and expectations that will enable others to make sound decisions.
  • Deliver results on time and within budget.

Judgment: Leaders use sound judgment to balance innovation with results.

People proactively seek solutions to deliver results.

  • Bring stakeholders together to create alignment, shared understanding and action.
  • Ask insightful and probing questions.
  • Use data and metrics to provide informed and thoughtful analyses.
  • Consider impact on others outside your immediate area.
  • Synthesize complex information.
  • Anticipate obstacles and generate alternatives.

Growth: Leaders coach staff in their professional growth.

People understand their current role and career options.

  • Make work challenging, meaningful and engaging for others.
  • Identify and focus on the most significant priorities, setting achievable goals, milestones and deadlines.
  • Provide others with productive and timely feedback.
  • Delegate and provide good exposure for team members.
  • Develop people and support their growth and mobility. 

Poster displaying the Cornell Skills for Success.

Cornell Skills for Success

Integrity: Interact with Integrity
Staff foster a workplace in which people are respected and engaged
Leaders support and model integrity.

Inclusion: Contribute Positively to an Inclusive Environment
Staff act to help others feel like they belong.
Leaders promote a culture of belonging.

Vision: Support the Organization's Shared Vision and Mission
Staff are trusted to move university and team goals forward.
Leaders inspire and articulate connection of the team's goals to the university mission.

Communication: Communicate Clearly and Consistently
Staff advance a workplace where people are informed and heard.
Leaders facilitate communications between staff, colleagues and leadership.

Initiative: Act and Take Initiative
Staff take ownership of their work and results.
Leaders empower staff with the support to take initiative.

Judgment: Display Sound Judgment in Problem Solving
Staff find solutions to deliver results.
Leaders use sound judgment to balance innovation with results.

Growth: Proactively Seek Growth Opportunities
Staff are committed to continuous development.
Leaders coach staff in their professional growth.

Download the PDF.