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Lecture 3 – Skills Theory

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1 Lecture 3 – Skills Theory
ADM Leadership Lecture 3 – Skills Theory

2 Description The skills approach takes a leader-centered perspective on leadership. Shift from personality characteristics (innate and relatively fixed) to an emphasis on skills and abilities that can be learned and developed.

3 Description Katz (1955). Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman (2000).

4 Three-Skill Approach Katz (1955) suggested that effective administration (i.e., leadership) depends on three basic personal skills: technical, human, and conceptual.

5 Three-Skill Approach Leadership skills are defined as the ability to use one’s knowledge and competencies to accomplish a set of goals. Skills are what a leader can accomplish, whereas traits are who leaders are (innate characteristics).

6 Three-Skill Approach: Technical Skill
Technical skill is having knowledge about and being proficient in a specific type of work or activity. Technical skills requires competencies in a specialized area, analytical ability, and the ability to use appropriate tools and techniques.

7 Three-Skill Approach: Human Skill
Human skill is having knowledge about and being able to work with people. Human skills are the abilities that help a leader to work effectively with subordinates, peers, and superiors to successfully accomplish the organization’s goals.

8 Three-Skill Approach: Human Skill
Characteristic behaviors: Sensitivity to other’s ideas, needs, and motivations. Adaptability of one’s own ideas. Creation of an atmosphere of trust.

9 Three-Skill Approach: Conceptual Skill
Conceptual skills are abilities to work with ideas and concepts. Whereas technical skills deal with things and human skills deal with people, conceptual skills deal with ideas.

10 Three-Skill Approach: Conceptual Skill
Conceptual skills are central to creating a vision and strategic plan for an organization.

11 Three Skills Model: Summary

12 Skills Model Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, et al., 2000.
A capability model because it examines the relationship between a leader’s knowledge and skills (i.e., capabilities) and the leader’s performance. The capabilities that make effective leadership possible.

13 Skills Model

14 Competencies Problem-solving skills.
A leader’s creative ability to solve new and unusual, ill-defined organizational problems. Skills: Define significant problems. Gather problem information. Formulate new understandings about the problem. Generate prototype plans for problem solutions.

15 Competencies Social judgment skills.
The capacity to understand people and social systems. Skills: Perspective taking – understanding of the attitudes that others have toward a particular problem or solution. Social perceptiveness – insight and awareness into how other within the organization function. Behavioral flexibility – the capacity to change and adapt one’s behavior in a light of an understanding of other’s perspectives in the organization. Social performance – the capacity to effectively communicate their vision to others based on their understanding of the others’ perspectives.

16 Competencies Knowledge.
The accumulation of information and the mental structures (schema) used to organize that information. Knowledge and expertise make it possible for people to think about complex systems issues and identify possible strategies for appropriate change.

17 Individual Attributes
General cognitive ability. Intelligence: perceptual processing, information processing, general reasoning skills, creative and divergent thinking capacities, and memory skills. Related to biology, not experience.

18 Individual Attributes
Crystallized cognitive ability. Intellectual ability learned or acquired over time. Store of knowledge gained through experience. Acquired intelligence.

19 Individual Attributes
Motivation. Three aspects of motivation essential to developing leadership skills. Willingness and motivation to tackle complex organizational problems (willingness to lead). Willingness to express dominance. Commitment to the social good of the organization.

20 Individual Attributes
Personality. Any personality characteristic that helps people cope with complex organizational situations is most likely related to leadership performance.

21 Leadership Outcomes Effective problem-solving. Performance.
Good problem solving involves creating solutions that are logical, effective, and unique and that go beyond given information. Performance. The degree to which a leader has successfully performed the duties to which he or she has been assigned.

22 Career Experiences Challenging job assignments. Mentoring.
Appropriate training. Hands-on experience in solving new unusual problems.

23 Environmental Influences
Factors in a leader’s situation that lie outside the leader’s competencies, characteristics, and experiences. Examples. Available technology. Subordinates competencies’. Task complexity. Communication quality.

24 Skills Model: Summary Five components of leader performance.
Three competencies at core: problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge.

25 Skills Model: Summary These competencies are the central determinants of effective problem solving and performance, although individual attributes, career experience, and environmental influences all have an impact on leader competence. Through job experience and training, leaders can improve their abilities to become better problems solvers and more effective leaders.

26 How Does the Skills Model Work?
Model is descriptive. Provides a structure for understanding the nature of effective leadership.

27 How Does the Skills Model Work?
The three-skills approach suggests that the importance of certain skills varies by level of organization. The skills model argues that leadership outcomes are the direct result of competencies as influenced by individual attributes, career experiences, and environmental influences.

28 Strengths Leader-centered model that stresses the importance of developing certain leadership skills. The skills approach is intuitively appealing.

29 Strengths The skills approach is expansive incorporating problem solving skills, social judgment skills, knowledge, individual attributes, career experiences and environmental influences. Provides a structure that is very consistent with the curricula of most leadership education programs.

30 Criticisms The breadth of the skills approach seems to extend beyond leadership. Weak in predictive value.

31 Criticisms Claims not to be trait model, but includes individual attributes. May not be applicable to other leadership populations than the military populations from which it was developed.

32 Application Currently no training packages for the skills approach.
However, the approach provides a way to delineate the skills of a leader, and leaders at all levels within an organization can use it. Identify strengths and weaknesses with regard to technical, human, and conceptual skills.

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