All entries for Friday 16 January 2009

January 16, 2009

Skill Approach

Still continuing to reading the book "Leadership: theory and practice" by Northouse, P. G

Skill Approach, which is suppose to be different with the trait approach says that leadership can be trained.

Skill Approach, based on two studies that have been done by Katz (1955) and Mumford and his colleagues (2000), emphasises that effective leadership can be developed and trained through experience.

Katz (1955) says that effective leadership depends on three personnel skills:

Technical Skill; the knowledge about a specific type of work or activities, not required for top managers, but it is essential for lower and middle management.

Human Skill, also know as people skill, basically means the ability to know about others needs and to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable to work in. Human skills are important for all three level managers.

Conceptual Skill; the capability to work with ideas and concepts. essential for top managers, because they are those who create a vision and strategy for a company, and put down in words, to become a goal or strategic plan for the whole company to work towards.

Mumford et al (2000) developed a Skills Model of leadership. the model has five components: Competencies, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences and environmental influences. The skills model suggests that competencies include: problem solving kills, social judgement skills and knowledge are the key to effective leadership. Individual attributes, which relate to personal traits, together with career experience and environmental influences all shape an effective leader.

This Skill Approach can be used as a tool for leaders to know what their weaknesses and strengths are. Furthermore, since we know what the essentials are to be an effective leader, some form of training can take place to train those who aspire to become leaders in the future.


Trait Approach

The study of Leadership traits has been developed over the past 100 years.

A lot of people have tried to give leadership a definition, the same, a lot of people try to define the traits of a successful leader.

Like the amount of definitionq available for leadership, different experts also have their different views of the leadership traits.

Using the table from the book Leadership: Theory and Practice, which the author adapted from "The base of Social Power"

Stogdill (1948)

Mann (1959)

Stogdill (1974)

Lord, Devader and Alliger (1986)

Kirkpatrick and Locke (1991)

































Cognitive ability

Task knowledge

The trait approach for leadership is not to argue if a leader is born or made, because different situations may require different traits for a leader to be effective. therefore, a leader might be born with a high IQ and highly motivated might just never get the chance to lead, or in some situation, a good leader doesn't necessary need to be motivated.

Using the Trait approach, it would be useful for an organisation if they want to develop somebody as a leader, and also, for those individuals who want to be a leader in the future, they might be able to learn what they can do towards their journey to being a successful leader.

However, Traits are not easy to cultivate, some of them might be easier to develop, but some might be very difficult, because it is difficult to learn to be somebody else, right?

People talk about using personality assessment instruments to find if the potential employee is fit for the company. To be honest, I dont really think it works well, definitely not in a accurate way, simply because we can pretend to be somebody else.

These days, most companies use this kind of personality test when they are recruiting. I was a fresh graduate last year and I have experienced this a few times. Reasoning tests, you can't lie, it is something you know or not know. But personality tests, give you a situation and ask you to give a choice of A B C or D to see what type of person you are, really, we know what they looking for, for that half hour test, we can pretend to be an effective leader.

To understand the Trait Approach and make it really work, some knowledge in the psychology area would be useful....

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