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The Essential Guide to B.E.E.P Skills: 4 Critical Competencies for Leadership Success Pt. 1

by Kima L. Tozay, LICSW

What are B.E.E.P Skills?

Whether you’re a senior-level executive or an aspiring leader, B.E.E.P skills are critical competencies every leader should hone. B.E.E.P is an acronym I created to better recall each critical skill. It stands for:

  • Business acumen,
  • Emotional intelligence,
  • Executive presence and
  • Political savvy.

In this four-part series, we will unpack each of the B.E.E.P skills and identify specific steps you can take to demonstrate them in your workplace. As a result, you will have a more solid understanding of the competencies and how you can utilize them as part of your leadership repertoire.

Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen and Building Coalitions are the Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) set by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). B.E.E.P skills are foundational and cut across all executive core qualifications. Therefore, developing B.E.E.P skills early on in your career will give you a competitive edge and prepare you well for your current or next position, whether in a leadership capacity or not.

B.E.E.P Skill #1: Business Acumen

What does it really mean to “crunch the numbers”? If working with numbers is not in your wheelhouse, you may feel ill-equipped to confidently handle certain business decisions.

Business acumen is the ability to manage human, financial and information resources strategically. It’s about being business-savvy when making important decisions. Despite popular belief, you don’t have to be in a leadership role to demonstrate business acumen.

8 Ways to Develop Business Acumen Skills

How does business acumen translate to your work? Here are eight examples of how you can hone business acumen skills:

  1. Shift your mindset. You’ll need to increase your business savviness by thinking more strategically. In “A Guide to Developing Strong Business Acumen,” software systems expert Robert Izquierdo recommends starting by understanding your organization’s business model, how its supply chain works and its business life cycle.
  2. Build up your business knowledge. Most leaders aren’t thinking about the business aspects of what they do in their day-to-day work. Increase your knowledge by getting curious about how your organization operates. Ask questions about the budget, recruitment and talent acquisition.
  3. Increase your comfort level with financial processes. Learn how to read a financial statement and understand the terminology. Talk to someone in your organization who can explain business operations, metrics and financial planning. Enroll in a business-related course such as financial management for non-finance managers, which is a popular offering in many colleges and universities.
  4. Enlist the help of a mentor or coworker. Find a subject matter expert in your organization and ask them to mentor you, or ask if you can observe them in meetings and daily tasks. Request a temporary stretch assignment in another department that allows you to try new skills in a functional area different than your own.
  5. Do your research. Keep abreast of business news and information relevant to your organization and its key stakeholders.
  6. Diversify your reading library. Read books and articles to grow your knowledge in the areas of business management, marketing and human resources.
  7. Stay current on business news. Build your external awareness by subscribing to and reading business journals, information magazines and industry newsletters that go beyond your current area of responsibility and expertise.
  8. Invest in leadership development. Leadership development programs are great sources of education and information for aspiring and seasoned leaders. You can also gain knowledge and build your professional network by attending national conferences through professional associations.

There is no doubt that becoming more business savvy will contribute greatly to your career success. If you want to learn more steps towards developing business acumen as part of your B.E.E.P leadership toolbox, check out this article from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Stay tuned for the next B.E.E.P Series Skill #2: Emotional Intelligence where we dive deeper into what it takes to build your emotional IQ.

Kima Tozay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and subject matter expert on Counseling and Advocacy programs in her role at Navy Fleet & Family Support Center, Everett, Washington. Her government career spans 15 years, starting in the Navy. Kima completed her Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Washington and has held positions with the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) and the Army. Kima’s greatest career accomplishment is receiving the Federal Employee of the Quarter Award for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. She earned an Executive Leadership Certificate from Graduate School, USA. You can connect with Kima on LinkedIn.

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