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Leadership Competencies

Discover the knowledge, skills, and abilities NEA educators need to lead thriving Associations and become world-class leaders in their professions.
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The NEA Leadership Competency Framework was developed by educators to provide a tool to define and assess current leadership skills, knowledge, and abilities of education leaders.


Over the course of the 2012-2013 year, NEA engaged leaders across the Association to discuss the current and desired future state of NEA leadership development. NEA also established a leadership development advisory team, consisting of member and staff-leaders to review member input and ideas and to develop a common vision for what NEA leaders should know and be able to do. Grounded in NEA’s strategic framework, created collaboratively, and refined through a rigorous review process, NEA’s leadership competencies were born.

In 2020, in the midst of a global health pandemic, and racial, social, and political unrest, a group of NEA members and staff worked on updating the framework to include a seventh competency.  The new domain calls attention to the social and emotional intelligence skills adults need to lead healthy and thriving lives and teach these skills to their students and colleagues, as well as ensure these practices are integrated into the culture of their workplaces and associations.

Competency Domains

The seven competencies are:

  • Advocacy: Advances the cause of public education through advocacy for students including addressing racial and social justice in education and how it benefits our students and members’ professional needs and rights.
  • Communication: Build and execute an integrated communications strategy that drives the mission, vision, core values and strategic goals of the association.
  • Governance and Leadership: Sets the mission and establishes and monitors strategies necessary for relevant and thriving associations while empowering, motivating, and fostering a pipeline of diverse leaders.
  • Leading Our Professions: Advocates for professional learning, professional quality and social diversity inside our professions and promotes our union’s role in advancing education transformation, student learning, and equitable access to opportunities.
  • Organizing: Mobilizes and engages members and leaders to support internal and external relationships and association capacity to: recruit, retain and identify diverse groups of members and leaders; and advance strategic priorities at the national, state, and local levels.
  • Social and Emotional Intelligence: Understands the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that create healthy identities, manage emotions, and achieve personal and collective goals; demonstrates ability to feel and show empathy, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible, caring decisions.
  • Strategy and Fiscal Health: Use association resources responsibly to accomplish the goals of the association through strategic thinking, effective financial management and understanding of fiduciary responsibilities.

Would you like a physical copy of the NEA Leadership Competency guide? Fill out our request form.

Leadership Competencies 2024
Member Tucker Quietone
I knew what I could do within my classrooms, but I could see how the systems weren’t working for some of our marginalized students. I wanted to help the systems become better for our students, and taking on different leadership roles within the union allowed me to do that.
Quote by: Tucker Quetone, High School English Teacher, Rochester (Minn.) Education Association
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National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.