Education success profile: College/university professor

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies.


When you are considering and interviewing candidates for a college or university professor, use the following responsibilities and competencies to evaluate candidates. This information can help you identify people who are likely to be successful in this position.

Primary responsibilities

Responsibilities of college and university professors usually include:
  • Prepare and conduct lectures and seminars to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Publish empirical and theoretical research in a variety of scholarly journals
  • Advise students with respect to academic performance, career opportunities, and pursuit of advanced degrees
  • Mentor and advise new academics, typically teaching assistants, research assistants, and junior faculty members
  • Carry out administrative and managerial duties, including chairing committees, serving as head of an academic department, and representing the university in the community at large

Core competencies

The following competency profile was created through conversations and surveys with a cross-section of college and university professors throughout the United States. While all of the competencies in the Education Competency Wheel will be important for professors from time to time, the 13 described here rose to the top of the list. This profile includes competencies that are relevant for professors at both teaching and research universities. Naturally, we encourage you to further refine the list to address the needs at your particular institution. Online universities were not included in this particular project, but we hypothesize that many of the competencies described here likely will be important for professors of on-line classes (for example, Time Management ## Not found ## Written Communications).

Candidates who are likely to be successful in this position will demonstrate a basic grasp of the following 13 Education Competencies. Those who will be the most successful will further demonstrate a desire to improve their skills in—and eventually master—these competencies:

  • Compassion: Genuinely cares about people; is concerned with their academic and non-academic problems; is available and ready to help; demonstrates real empathy with the joys and pains of others.
  • Creativity: Generates many new and unique ideas; makes connections among previously unrelated notions; is unafraid to use unorthodox methods; is seen as original and value-added in brainstorming settings.
  • Developing others: Is a people builder; provides challenging and stretching tasks and assignments; constructs compelling development plans and executes them; pushes direct reports to accept developmental moves.
  • Integrity and trust: Is widely trusted; is seen as a direct, truthful individual; presents truthful information in an appropriate and helpful manner; keeps confidences; admits mistakes; doesn’t misrepresent himself or herself for personal gain.
  • Intellectual acumen: Is intelligent and capable; deals with concepts and complexity comfortably; is good at learning and deciphering new knowledge; able to assimilate new skills independently.
  • Interpersonal skills: Is warm and easy to approach; builds constructive and effective relationships; uses diplomacy and tact to diffuse tense situations; has a style and charm that immediately puts others at ease and disarms hostility.
  • Listening: Practices attentive and active listening; has the patience to hear people out; can accurately restate the opinions of others even when he or she disagrees.
  • Motivating others: Creates a climate in which people want to do their best; can assess each person’s strengths and use them to get the best out of him or her; promotes confidence and optimistic attitudes; is someone people like working for and with.
  • Personal learning and development: Is personally committed to and actively works to continuously improve himself or herself; recognizes the need to change personal, interpersonal, and managerial behavior; actively seeks feedback.
  • Presentation skills: Is effective in a variety of formal and informal presentation settings; commands attention and manages group process during the presentation; is cognizant of audience response and able to adapt content and style accordingly.
  • Time management: Uses his or her time effectively and efficiently; concentrates his or her efforts on the most important priorities; adeptly handles several tasks at once.
  • Valuing diversity: Manages all kinds and classes of people equitably; supports equal and fair treatment and opportunity for all; fosters a climate of inclusion, where diverse thoughts are freely shared and integrated.
  • Written communications: Is able to write clearly and succinctly in a variety of communication settings and styles; can get messages across that instigate appropriate actions.

Next steps

Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.