Recent developmental frameworks suggest that dental curricula should focus on developing nonclinical skills in dental students. The aim of this study was to qualitatively map students’ perceptions of the most important nonclinical skills against the Medical Leadership Competency Framework (MLCF). A representative sample of second- to fifth-year students (n=594; overall response rate 69%) from all four dental schools in South Africa participated in a cross-sectional survey in 2014–15 enquiring about nonclinical skills and dental practice management. One of the questions required students to list the four most important nonclinical skills required for a dentist. Students (n=541) most frequently noted competencies related to working with others (97.9%), personal qualities (72.3%), and managing services (42.9%) as the most important nonclinical skills. Very few students mentioned competencies related to the improvement of services (14.1%) and the provision of strategic direction (10.9%). The students’ attention appeared to be on nonclinical skills generally required for clinical care with some realization of the importance of managing services, indicating a need for a stronger focus on leadership and management training in dental schools in South Africa. The results also helped to unravel some of the conceptual ambiguity of the MLCF and highlight opportunities for leadership research using the MLCF as a conceptual framework.