The Highlands Company Blog

Consultant Diane Foster Talks Competency Modeling and Leadership

Diane Foster Highlands Company certified consultant

diane foster highlands consultantDiane Foster has a passion for career development. It’s apparent today in her work as a leadership coach, but also in her impressive work history.

Based in the San Francisco area, Diane started out as a high school English teacher where she saw students struggle to make decisions for their future education and careers. Her Masters Thesis in Career Development, “Developing Human Resources While Implementing Change,” was born out of early work in the Silicon Valley as she observed the resistance to work on computers. Then, as an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant/Coach for Advanced Micro Devices, she worked on competency modeling, succession planning, rolled-out new a performance management system, and implemented a career development program.

Diane’s Passion for Competency Modeling

Her early work on competency modeling, which is about supporting organization leaders in deciding what its core leadership competency needs are relative to the goals that are critical to that organization’s success, became her practice orientation. Today, she uses this as a “systems approach” for alignment of individual abilities with organizational success criteria, for both the organization and the individual.

As a result, using the Harvard Leadership Studies, and with the help of a now-retired business partner, she developed a leadership competency-building program called the “Skill Kit for Leaders: Real-Time Resources for Developing Leadership ‘Competency.”

diane foster skill kit for leadersThis program provides learning resources for leaders behind 42 different competencies. She uses the 42 competency-building resource units from the SKL to support her Highlands’ leader clients with their development.

This, Diane says, is a key missing piece of organizational success and individual success.

“Leaders need ‘real time’ practice activities with practical concepts and new ideas to stretch their behaviors, and continue to grow in their roles. The Highlands gives them knowledge of what their abilities are. My SKL resources give them ways to exercise these for greater impact. ”

That program model has evolved over the years, is delivered electronically, and has become a central component to her work today.

“How does an individual who is seeking transition of any kind identify his/her competencies? They need true assessments with great feedback. We’ve taken quality assessments and resources, starting with the Highlands Whole Person Method, to understanding key competencies and distilling them.”

Why Diane Chooses the Highlands Ability Battery

Diane became a Highlands Certified Consultant in 2000 because she felt the Highlands Ability Battery and the Whole Person Method was in-line with her core competency approach.

While she has a long history of working with adults and teams, she is delighted with the opportunity to use the Highlands with students–perhaps because as she puts it, “Until we correct the school situation, the world of work and our whole economy, in fact, the Globe, is going to suffer.”

To learn more about Diane and her Skill Kit for Leaders, visit