Learning & Development

Attributes & Competencies

SIL’s Personal Attributes and Management/Leadership Competencies (PAs & MLCs) are intended for use by individuals and managers/leaders to help with personal growth. Together they should be seen as a tool to support and encourage reflection and conversations.

What are PAs & MLCs?

An attribute is something people can say about themselves – “I am…” or “I have…”

A competency is a skill or learned ability that people can say they are doing – “I can…” or “I do…”   ▼

There are 11 Personal Attributes and 10 Management/Leadership Competencies. For each of the PAs & MLCs there are indicators tailored to people at each of the Workday levels of responsibility.

WHEN do I use them?

There are at least five identified uses for the PAs & MLCs:

HOW do I use them?

We do this by Staff Level (1-7). Level 1 is the highest (SIL Executive Director) and Level 7 is the lowest(your basic entry-level SIL staff person). The best place to start is at Level 7 and then work your way up to increase your growth. For each level, there is an information page and an assessment tool. 

Levels 1-3 Staff: Highly experienced leaders and those leading at Area or International levels 

Information on Level 1-3 | Level 1-3 Assessment Tool

Level 4 Staff: Very highly technically experienced specialist/staff, Directors or consultants and those leading at Unit or Domain levels

Information on Level 4 | Level 4 Assessment Tool

Level 5 Staff: Technically experienced staff, and/or the next level of supervisors/managers

Information on Level 5 | Level 5 Assessment Tool

Level 6 Staff: These are experienced staff and/or the first level of supervisors/managers

Information on Level 6 | Level 6 Assessment Tool

Level 7 Staff: Entry-level staff and/or a staff person with no leadership or supervisory responsibilities

Information on Level 7 | Level 7 Assessment Tool

Resources to help you use PAs and MLCs to grow personally and professionally: 

Read, Reflect, and Relate to Your Growth

Digital Learning

Digital Learning, sometimes referred to as Online Learning or eLearning, has its advantages and disadvantages when compared to more traditional forms of learning. Face-to-face classroom situations feel more personal, and learning can be facilitated by a more natural relationship between the teacher and learners, and between the learner and other learners. On the other hand, Digital Learning is accessible at all hours in all time zones. Because it usually eliminates the need for both teachers and learners to travel in order to be co-located, digital learning can provide many learning opportunities to a wider audience that would otherwise be economically or schedule-wise prohibitive.   ▼


If you haven’t yet checked out Course-Connections, please head over to https://course-connections.sil.org and have a look at the growing collection of digital courses designed to support SIL people in their life and ministry. Because we recognize that just completing an online course may not lead to life-change, we’ve tried to pair online learning with structured opportunities to be supported as you try new practices and develop new habits of working and living. Mentors, coaches, and CoPs can all play a role in your implementation of what you learn. 

Mandated Courses

Certain courses that are mandatory requirements for SIL personnel are also found in Workday Learning. If a course is found in both learning management platforms, they are identical in content and activities. The difference is that Workday can keep track of who in SIL has completed the required courses. We keep a copy of those courses in Course-Connections so they remain available to those without access to Workday. So…

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are SIL staff (supported, paid, or volunteer) and you need to take a mandated course, find and take that course in Workday Learning and not Course-Connections.

Current SIL Mandated Course List:

Here you will be able to see descriptions of courses in the categories of Professional Development, Personal Development, Leading & Managing People, Managing Programs & Projects, and Child Safeguarding and Family Helps.

Leadership Development

The development of leaders is both Biblical and necessary for the effectiveness of SIL’s ministry and future. While much of this development is designed and engineered for staff in SIL, it is in no way limited to SIL’s staff. The content, processes, and technology is available to SIL’s partners and others.  ▼

A brief 3-verse description of one biblical leader is found at the end of Asaph’s summary of Israel’s history up to that point.

“He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” – Psalm 78:70-72 -NIV

In general, David is held up as a good – yet imperfect leader. Besides being chosen by God, the writer of this psalm focuses on two other characteristics. David had a heart of integrity and he had leadership skills. Much of David’s growth in leadership was developed and tested in the 15 or so years between the time when he was anointed, and when he was crowned.

Our approach to leadership development in SIL has four equally important aspects: The Picture, The Heart, The Hands, The Support.

The Picture

In order to provide a picture of what an ideal leader in SIL should look like, we have developed descriptions of Personal Attributes & Management/Leadership Competencies (see above). The Personal Attributes (PAs) describe the values, attitudes, and frame of mind that we want to see in all SIL staff. These statements could start with “I am or I have….” The Management/Leadership Competencies (MLCs) describe the desired skills and abilities for leaders at various levels of responsibility in the organization. These statements could start with “I can or I do ….” 

The Heart

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart.” Other translations use words such as pure heart, devoted heart, upright heart, true heart, and pure motives. As we consider moving people into leadership in SIL, demonstrated Christlike character should be the starting point. After that we want to support them in developing the desired mindset, values, and understanding that all leaders in SIL should have at this time in the organization. The 4 Pillars events launched in 2017 were designed to do that. The four pillars, or perspectives, are Spiritual Formation, Leadership Understanding, Organizational Awareness , and Missiological Alignment. Since that time a fifth perspective, Global Insights, was identified and will be added to the original four and together will be known as Leadership Pillars

The Hands

“…With skillful hands he led them.” In addition to the right character, mindset and values, new and developing leaders still need to learn discrete management and leadership skills beyond the focus on heart issues. Global HR has been tasked with designing a skills development plan. The plan includes looking at what other similar non-profit organizations are doing in the area of leadership development. Also, the plan needs to rely heavily on digital learning courses for the sake of meeting global needs within a realistic budget and time frame. The plan includes courses in Managing and Leading People, and Managing Projects and Programs.

A list of courses to be developed has been created along with a draft two-year plan for new leaders, which is focused on Workday Level 4 leaders. After that is launched, multiyear learning plans will also be developed for leaders at other levels. More information about that will be posted to this site in the future.

The Support

In an attempt to ensure learning doesn’t just result in head knowledge without changed behavior,  most digital courses are designed to be followed up with implementation support from line managers, mentors, or coaches. Therefore, mentoring and coaching are recognized as the fourth essential element of leadership development. 

Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

Everyone in SIL should have an Individual Development Plan (IDP) that is updated at least annually. Sending organizations also want to see that their people have Individual Development Plans. These should be co-created with one’s supervisor and recorded in Workday or in the person's annual review.

Those who supervise others can find more information regarding IDP conversations and plan development in the Staff Engagement digital course in Course-Connections.

IDPs can be formal or informal. A formal downloadable IDP template can be found here, but it is perfectly fine to have a more informal plan listed out in the annual review.

Coaching & Mentoring

Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” 1 Personal and professional coaching have proven their value in our organization moving leaders and teams toward greater impact. Connecting coaching to the learning process has the potential to move learners from acquired knowledge and understanding to changed habits in their work and life. Different than a mentor, a coach does not need to have a deep understanding of the learning content. Rather, a coach brings well-crafted questions to powerfully help learners reflect and apply learning, solve problems, reach goals, and develop others with accountability.  ▼


“Coaching is an ongoing intentional conversation that empowers a person or group to fully live out God’s calling.” 

Personal and professional coaching have proven their value in our organization moving leaders and teams toward greater impact. Connecting coaching to the learning process has the potential to move learners from acquired knowledge and understanding to changed habits in their work and life. Different than a mentor, a coach does not need to have a deep understanding of the learning content. Rather, a coach brings well-crafted questions to powerfully help learners reflect and apply learning, solve problems, reach goals, and develop others with accountability.

Discover our Coaching Services: request a coach, explore upcoming training, or join a coaching community. Click HERE to learn more! 


Mentoring is an informal or intentional process in relationship that offers helpful, additional perspective to someone who is looking to grow and develop in their knowledge, skills or attitudes. One simple definition of mentoring is when one who is at least a bit further down the road of experience sharing what she or he has learned from reflecting on those experiences, and making themselves available as a resource to someone with less experience.

Mentoring has been shown to boost staff engagement and satisfaction while increasing the staff’s ability to succeed in their contribution toward organizational goals.

Articles and Resources:

The Robust Mentoring Initiative has put together an excellent e-book on intentional formal mentoring that you can read about and download here.

Mentoring Matters is another SIL-related website that is an outgrowth of the ILS language program consultant development work. 

If you would like to explore becoming a mentor, or if  you are looking for a mentor, you can contact SIL Coaching.

Communities of Practice

Are you looking for a group of people who are working through the same issues that you are facing? There may already be such a group (or maybe we can help you start one); Such groups are called Communities of Practice (CoP). One definition found at W3Definitions says that a CoP is an, Informal, self-organized, network of peers with diverse skills and experience in an area of practice or profession. Such groups are held together by the members’ desire to help others (by sharing information) and the need to advance their own knowledge (by learning from others).  ▼

Active Communities of Practice (CoPs) in SIL

If you would like more information about CoPs, help setting one up, or your SIL CoP listed, please contact Learning & Development 

Articles and Resources

Upcoming Learning Opportunities  

Have a look at these upcoming events:

Coming in 2024:

If you would like to list an upcoming SIL or partner learning opportunity, please the send information with contact information to MissionHR@sil.org.

Learning Resource Catalog

Below is a list of available learning opportunities for you to explore. Pro tip: to search more specifically for something you are interested in, you can always use the search bar at the top right hand corner of your screen.

Internal Learning Opportunities

Introductory & Orientation

Personal Development

General Professional Development

Leadership Core

Managing/Leading People

Managing Projects & Program

External Learning Opportunities

Universities that Partner with SIL or Wycliffe Organizations for Courses or Degrees


External Online Courses

About Adult Learning

Andragogy is the term for teaching adults, but in reality, most adults aren’t taught; they are enabled to learn. In most cases, adults have learned to learn on their own. This doesn’t mean learning alone – in fact adults learn better in a community of learners.

Learning is enhanced by social interaction. Good adult learning makes connections on three levels. 

Adult Learning Principles – Malcolm Knowles

Adults want to know why they should learn. Adults are motivated to put time and energy into learning if they know the benefits of learning and the costs of not learning. 

Adults need to take responsibility. By definition, adult learners have a self- concept of being in charge of their own lives and being responsible for their own decisions, and a need to be seen and treated as being capable of taking responsibility. 

Adults bring experience to learning. That experience is a resource for themselves and for other learners, and gives richer meaning to new ideas and skills. Experience is a source of an adult’s self-identify. 

Adults are ready to learn when the need arises. Adults learn when they to choose to learn and commit to learn. That desire to learn usually coincides with the transition from one developmental stage to another and is related to developmental tasks, such as career planning, acquiring job competencies, improving job performance, etc. Often, however, adults perceive employer- provided training as employer-required training. 

Adults are task-oriented. Education is subject-centered, but adult training should be task-centered. For example, a child in a school composition class learns grammar, and then sentence and paragraph construction. An adult in a composition training program learns how to write a business letter, a marketing plan, etc.

More About Adult Learning

How People Learn. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). How People Learn II: Learners, Contexts, and Cultures. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Learning that Lasts by Roland Walker

Learning that LASTS website

© 2005-2024 SIL International, all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted elsewhere on this page.

Provided by SIL's People Strategies Global Team.