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Education competencies: Organizing

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.


Can marshal resources (people, funding, material, support) to get things done; can orchestrate multiple activities at once to accomplish a goal; uses resources effectively and efficiently; arranges information and files in a useful manner.

Proficiency level

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Directs and channels people and material to accomplish goals Marshals people and material to get things done well Enlists resources (people, material, funding, support) to get things done efficiently Recruits groups and resources to achieve lofty goals with extreme adeptness
Works best when managing one task at a time Orchestrates multiple activities to accomplish a goal Handles multiple projects simultaneously and efficiently, delegating tasks to efficiently and continually move projects forward Tackles multiple complex projects and directs their operation concurrently and smoothly; communicates expectations to organization and builds in accountability measures
Keeps orderly files and records such that information can be retrieved when requested Arranges information and files in a useful and consistent manner Keeps accurate and current records in a logical organizing system that is accessible to all people Maintains accurate and complete records, and develops district-wide organizing systems and processes

Overdoing organizing

  • May not be tolerant of normal chaos
  • May too often want to do things his or her own way
  • May not be open to suggestions and input
  • May lose his or her effectiveness when things don't go as planned

Essential questions

To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:
  • Have I clearly communicated the goals and mission to the appropriate people?
  • Is my master plan working, and are all tasks on track?
  • Are my project records comprehensive and up to date?
  • What tasks can I delegate to promote efficiency and keep the project moving?
  • What input do I need to collect from others to involve their cooperation and support?
  • What adjustments must I make to bring projects in line with my budget?
To avoid overdoing organizing, ask yourself:
  • Am I too controlling, too often demanding things be done my way?
  • Am I actually disinterested in others’ suggestions and input?
  • Am I prone to get flustered when things don’t go as I plan?

Interview questions

  • Think back to a situation or project where you had to acquire people and other resources to accomplish a goal. What resources did you need, and how did you get them? What was the result?
  • Describe a period of time when you had to juggle multiple, complex activities or projects simultaneously. How did you stay organized and continually move the projects forward? What challenges did you face, and how did you handle them? What were your results?
  • Please describe your current system for maintaining files and records. Who are the users of the information you maintain? Please share some feedback you’ve received from others who have accessed your files.

Learning on the job

Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Set goals and measures: Set goals for the whole project and sub-tasks; set measures to keep on track.
  • Lay out the work: Plan thoroughly before acting. Determine your goal, timeline, resources, support, and sequence of events. Ask others for their comments.
  • Bargain for resources: Determine what you have to offer in trade or what you can borrow.
  • Rally support: Share your goals with others, and enlist input and support.
  • Delegate: Give work to others to accomplish, and give them the authority to accomplish it. Pay ample attention to the weakest links.
  • Manage multiple tasks: Have a master plan to keep you and others on track.
  • Manage efficiently: Budget carefully, prepare for contingencies, and track expenditures regularly.
  • Manage coolly: Avoid getting frustrated. Stick to your plan.
  • Celebrate: Share the success and spread the wealth.
  • Find someone in your environment who is good at organizing: Pattern your activities after his or hers.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Integrate diverse systems, processes, or procedures across decentralized or dispersed units.
  • Plan an off-site meeting, conference, or event.
  • Manage, teach, or coach a temporary group of inexperienced people.
  • Manage a temporary group of low-competence people through a task they couldn't do by themselves.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning to learn better:
    • Study people who have successfully done what you need to do. Interview them. Summarize their key strategies, tactics, and insights.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Learn from those in authority. Distance yourself from your feelings, and analyze what they do and do not do well. Choose to imitate the successful behavior.
    • Learn by observing others. Objectively study what they do.
    • Get feedback from those in authority. Communicate that you are open to constructive criticism and are willing to work on issues they view as important.
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don't retaliate if you don’t agree.
    • Get feedback from peers and colleagues. Promote trust to get honest, quality feedback.
  • Learning from courses:
    • Take a supervisory course. Review the common practices of effective supervision.

Recommended readings

  • Allen, David.Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
  • Cramer, Kathryn D.When Faster Harder Smarter Is Not Enough: Six Steps for Achieving What You Want in a Rapid-Fire World.New York: McGraw-Hill Trade, 2002.
  • Hedrick, Lucy H.Get Organized in the Digital Age.New American Library Trade, 2002.
  • Herman, Stan (Ed.).Rewiring Organizations for the Networked Economy: Organizing, Managing, Leading in the Information Age.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeffer, 2002.
  • Hutchings, Patricia J.Managing Workplace Chaos: Solutions for Handling Information, Paper, Time, and Stress.New York: AMACOM, 2002.
  • Koch, Richard.The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less.New York: Currency/Doubleday, 1998.
  • Nelson, Mike.Clutter-Proof Your Business: Turn Your Mess Into Success.Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2002.
  • Sködberg, Kaj.The Poetic Logic of Administration: Styles and Changes of Style in the Art of Organizing.London; New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Smallin, Dona.Organizing Plain and Simple: A Ready Reference Guide with Hundreds of Solutions to Your Everyday Clutter Challenges.Pownal, VT: Storey Books, 2002.
  • Whipp, Richard, Barbara Adam, and Ida Sabelis (Eds.).Making Time: Time and Management in Modern Organizations.Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Winston, Stephanie.The Organized Executive: The Classic Program for Productivity: New Ways to Manage Time, People, and the Digital Office.New York: Warner Business, 2001.

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.