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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.
NEA Leadership Competency Framework

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 Framework


We designed a self-assessment to help our leaders identify their own areas of strength, as well as areas where they can improve. Click here to access the Self-Assessment. Please read instructions below to login and launch the self-assessments.

Sign in – Username: email address / Password: established by user

Note: If you do not have an account, please register by clicking on the “Register Now” button below the sign in area.

On entering the LMS Portal, please follow instructions below to access the LD self-assessments:

  1. Click on the “Visit LMS Catalog”
  2. Under “Browse by Category”, select “Leadership”
  3. Under “Browse by Leadership”, select “Competency Assessments”
  4. Select the competency assessment you choose to enroll by clicking on the “enroll” button.
  5. Click on the “launch” button to begin the assessment.
  6. To sign out of the LMS Portal, click on the arrow next to your initials located at the top right-hand corner of the page.

Note: You will receive an email confirmation upon registering in the LMS Portal.  You will also receive an email confirmation upon enrolling in the assessment(s).

Member Leadership Opportunities

Here are suggestions for creating and/or developing opportunities for individual leaders:

  • Contact your State Association for potential leadership opportunities within your state or local affiliate.
  • Join or create a leadership development community page using NEA edCommunities. It's free and open to all NEA members!
  • Join NEA EdLeaders Facebook Group to stay connected and engaged. 
  • Read our Leadership Competencies Training Considerations (downloads, below). The essential program and training considerations are not intended to be exhaustive or prescriptive, but provide a suggested approach, and in some cases, examples of what could be included in a training or program to help members develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities as outlined in the progression level.

If you have questions or comments, please contact us at

Leadership Development Courses

Leadership Development 101:  A Foundation Course for Activists and Leaders

This asynchronous, foundation level course is designed to gain an understanding the Leadership Competency framework. This course is available on NEA's Learning Management System (LMS).

Leadership Development 102: A Strategic Approach to Leadership Development

This course demonstrates how the framework can support an affiliate in taking  a more strategic approach to leadership development. The Leadership 102 course is a successor to Leadership Development 101: A Foundation Course for Activist and Leaders. The course can be found on NEA’s Learning Management System (LMS).

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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Join our NEA Summit Leaders Facebook Group

Connect with fellow Leadership Summit alumni and post, comment, and share information, ideas, and best practices about how you are developing yourself and others as leaders.
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.