University of Minnesota Leadership Challenges

As a leader at the University, how you do your work is as important as what you do. The University of Minnesota Leadership Challenges focus on the way in which our leaders carry out their work. Leaders who address these challenges are able to do extraordinary things and make a positive difference in their team's productivity and commitment while meeting the University’s three-part mission of teaching, research, and outreach.

  • Equity and Diversity—Creating a strong organizational climate and structure of access and inclusion as the critical elements and core values in achieving excellence.
  • Results—Finding ways to drive and support innovation while increasing the efficient use of resources.
  • Vision—Setting the right direction, navigating difficult decisions, and aligning resources with priorities.
  • Engagement—Building and sustaining high performing teams and departments while retaining top talent.
  • Collaboration—Working well as part of a team and collaborating with—and influencing—a diverse range of individuals and groups.
  • Accountability—Establishing and maintaining a reputation for integrity and personal accountability.

Each leadership challenge can be addressed with a specific set of skills, or key competencies. These key competencies can be explained by specific behaviors. All of this is explained in the table below.  

This framework provides the foundation for all of LTD's leadership development programs and is the exact framework used in 360-degree feedback assessments and individual self -assessments.

Take the Leadership Challenges Self-Assessment

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to set and achieve your goals. The self-assessment below allows you to rate yourself against key behaviors behind each leadership challenge so you know where to focus your development efforts. Higher scores highlight areas where you can improve in order to support your goals.

Manager/Supervisor Level

Interactive Self Assessment

Printable Competency List

Director/Senior Level

Interactive Self Assessment 

Printable Competency List

Leadership Challenges Framework


Key Competencies


Equity and Diversity

Creating a strong organizational climate and structure of access and inclusion as the critical elements and core values in achieving excellence

Demonstrates an Open Mind

Demonstrates an understanding of how their own values and assumptions about equity, inclusivity, and diversity influence decision-making. Identifies and openly discusses own and others’ social and cultural identities and differences relevant to work. Creates an environment for open dialogue and conflict resolution around different perspectives.

Increases Access, Diversity & Inclusion

Recognizes and communicates the importance of diversity and inclusivity. Solicits feedback regarding the inclusivity of the workplace. Creates an inclusive and accessible work environment by finding solutions to systemic barriers. Implements recruitment, hiring, and retention efforts that promote diversity within the workplace.


Finding ways to drive and support innovation while increasing the client use of resources


Advocates for innovative ideas and solutions. Encourages exploring and evaluating new possibilities and approaches. Supports others who take well-reasoned risks.

Drives Efficiency

Helps others streamline work processes to improve quality and service. Ensures that data, metrics, or other relevant information is used to monitor progress toward goals. Understands and adopts best practices.


Setting the right direction, navigating difficult decisions, and aligning resources with priorities

Thinks Strategically

Clearly understands own college/unit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Understands trends and considers these when making plans. Successfully builds and sustains a broad base of support for important initiatives. Effectively influences decision makers to successfully develop and implement strategies across the college/unit.


Aligns Resources

Aligns plans with college/unit goals and priorities. Organizes and prioritizes people and resources based on key goals and strategies. Ensures that others have the resources, information, authority, and support needed for success.


Building and sustaining high performing teams and departments and retaining top talent

Selects and Develops Talent

Hires and develops the talent needed to support critical goals and priorities. Provides clear performance expectations. Ensures that others receive timely, actionable, and constructive feedback and coaching. Addresses performance problems directly and promptly.

Motivates and Inspires Others

Helps others understand how their work is connected to broader goals. Recognizes and rewards strong performance and contributions to important priorities. Ensures that others feel valued and respected regardless of their background.


Working well as part of a team and collaborating and influencing a diverse range of individuals and groups

Builds Relationships

Works effectively with groups with different perspectives and competing interests. When faced with conflict, finds a productive way forward. Includes relevant groups and stakeholders in plans and communications. Creates and strengthens meaningful collaboration and teamwork.

Is Resilient and Courageous

Helps others respond to unexpected problems with flexibility and resourcefulness. Expresses own opinions and views with confidence. Stands by decisions that are not well received by others, if necessary to advance key priorities.


Establishing and maintaining a reputation
for integrity and personal accountability

Operates with Integrity

Ensures that others demonstrate a strong commitment to ethics, integrity, and honesty. Consistently follows through on commitments. Takes ownership for the performance of the team.

Learns and Adapts

Demonstrates self-awareness of own strengths and development needs and takes action to develop and enhance own skills. Seeks to understand feedback that is inconsistent with own perceptions of strengths and development needs. Demonstrates a willingness to take on new challenges.