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Leadership and Change

Chapter 3: Skill Approach

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 Skills Approach Perspective

 Three-Skill Approach (Katz, 1955)

 Skills-Based Model (Mumford, et al, 2000)

 How Does the Skills Approach Work?

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Skills Approach Description
Perspective Definition

 Leader-centered Leadership skills - The

perspective ability to use one’s
knowledge and competencies
 Emphasis on to accomplish a set of goals
skills and and objectives
abilities that can
be learned and
certainly plays an
important role.
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Three-Skill Approach (Katz, 1955)
 Technical Skill

 Human Skill

 Conceptual Skill

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Technical Skill
 Technical skill - having knowledge about and being
proficient in a specific type of work or activity.
 Specialized competencies
 Analytical ability
 Capability to use appropriate tools and techniques

 Technical skills involve hands-on ability with a

product or process
 Most important at lower levels of management

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Human Skill
 Human skill – having knowledge about and being able
to work with people.
 Awareness of one’s own perspective and others’ perspectives
at the same time
 People skills help a leader to assist group members in
working cooperatively to achieve common goals
 Creates an atmosphere of trust where members feel they can
become involved and impact decisions in the organization
 Important at all levels of the organization

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Conceptual Skill

 Conceptual skill - the ability to do the mental work of

shaping meaning of organizational policy or issues
(what company stands for and where it’s going)

 Works easily with abstraction and hypothetical notions

 Central to creating and articulating a vision and strategic plan for
an organization
 Most important at top management levels

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Basic Administrative Skills – Katz (1955)
Management Skills Necessary at Various Levels of an

 Leaders need all

three skills – but, skill
ability/ importance
changes based on
level of management

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Skills Model
(Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000)

Perspective Skills-Based Model of


 Research studies (1990s) goal: Capability model - Examines

to identify the leadership relationship between a leader’s
factors that create exemplary knowledge & skills & the leader’s
job performance in an performance .
organization Suggests many people have the
potential for leadership
Skills-Based Model components
 Emphasizes the capabilities – Competencies
that make effective leadership – Individual Attributes
possible rather than what – Leadership Outcomes
leaders do – Career Experiences
– Environmental Influences

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Skills Model
Three Components of the Skills Model

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Competency Skills


Problem Solving Social Judgment Knowledge

• Creative ability • Capacity to • The

understand people accumulation of
to solve
and social systems information & the
new/unusual, ill- - Perspective taking
defined mental structures
- Social perceptiveness to organize the
- Behavioral flexibility information
- Social performance

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Problem Solving Skills
The skills include being able to define significant problems,
gather problem information, formulate new
understandings about the problem, and generate
prototype plans for problem solutions. These skills do not
function in a vacuum, but are carried out in an
organizational context. Problem-solving skills demand that
leaders understand their own leadership capacities as
they apply possible solutions to the unique problems in
their organization.
(Mumford, Zaccaro, Connelly, & Marks, 2000).

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Problem Solving Skills Example
1. First, you identify the full ramifications for employees
of changing their health insurance coverage. What is the
impact going to be?

2. Second, you gather information about how benefits can

be scaled back. What other companies have attempted a
similar change, and what were their results?

3. Third, you find a way to teach and inform the employees

about the needed change. How can you frame the change
in such a way that it is clearly understood?

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4. Fourth, you create possible scenarios for how the
changes will be instituted. How will the plan be

5. Fifth, you look closely at the solution itself. How will

implementing this change affect the company’s mission
and your own career?

6. Last, are there issues in the organization (e.g., union

rules) that may affect the implementation of these

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Competency Skills


Problem Solving Social Judgment Knowledge

• Creative ability • Capacity to understand • The

people and social systems accumulation of
to solve • - Perspective taking
new/unusual, ill- information & the
• - Social perceptiveness
defined mental structures
• - Behavioral flexibility
organizational to organize the
• - Social performance
problems information

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Social Judgment Skills
 Perspective taking means understanding the attitudes that
others have toward a particular problem or solution.
Perspective taking means being sensitive to other people’s
perspectives and goals—being able to understand their
point of view on different issues.

 Social perceptiveness is insight and awareness into how

others in the organization function. What is important to
others? What motivates them? What problems do they
face, and how do they react to change? Social
perceptiveness means understanding the unique needs,
goals, and demands of different organizational
constituencies (Zaccaro et al., 1991).
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 Behavioral flexibility is the capacity to change and adapt
one’s behavior in light of an understanding of others’
perspectives in the organization. Being flexible means one is
not locked into a singular approach to a problem. As the
circumstances of a situation change, a flexible leader changes
to meet the new demands.

 Social performance includes a wide range of leadership

competencies. Skill in persuasion and communicating change
is essential to do this. When there is resistance to change or
interpersonal conflict about change, leaders need to function
as mediators. To this end, skill in conflict resolution is an
important aspect. In addition, social performance sometimes
requires that leaders coach subordinates, giving them
direction and support as they move toward selected
organizational goals.
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Competency Skills


Problem Solving Social Judgment Knowledge

• Creative ability • Capacity to understand • The accumulation of

people and social systems information & the mental
to solve • - Perspective taking structures to organize
new/unusual, ill- • - Social perceptiveness the information.
defined • - Behavioral flexibility
organizational • - Social performance

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 Knowledge is inextricably related to the application and
implementation of problem-solving skills in organizations.
It directly influences a leader’s capacity to define complex
organizational problems and to attempt to solve them.

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Individual Attributes

General Cognitive Crystallized

Motivation Personality
Ability Cognitive Ability
• Person’s intelligence • Intellectual • Three aspects of • Any
- Perceptual processing ability learned motivation characteristic
- Information processing or acquired - Willingness that helps people
over time - Dominance cope with
- General reasoning complex
- Creative & divergent - Social good organizational
thinking situations is
probably related
- Memory
to leader
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Leadership Outcomes


Problem Solving Performance

• Criteria = originality & quality of • Degree to which a

solutions to problem situations – good leader has successfully
problem solving involves creating performed his/her
solutions that are: assigned duties
- Logical
- Effective
- Unique
- Go beyond given information
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Skills Model
Skills Model of Leadership

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Career Experiences

Challenging Appropriate Hands-on

Mentoring Experience With
Assignments Training
 Experience gained during career influences leader’s knowledge &
skills to solve complex problems

 Leaders learn and develop higher levels of conceptual capacity if

they progressively confront more complex and long-term problems
as they ascend the organizational hierarchy

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Environmental Influences


Outside of Leader’s

 Factors in a leader’s situation that lie outside of the leader’s

competencies, characteristics, and experiences
– Outdated technology
– Subordinates’

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How Does the Skills Approach Work?
 Focus of Skills Approach

 Strengths

 Criticisms

 Application

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Skills Approach
Focus Principal Research

 Focus is primarily
 Katz (1955) suggests
descriptive – it describes importance of particular
leadership from skills leadership skills varies
perspective depending where leaders reside
in management hierarchy
 Provides structure for
understanding the nature
 Mumford et al. (2000) suggest
of effective leadership
leadership outcomes are direct
result of leader’s skilled
competency in problem solving,
social judgment & knowledge

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How does it work?
 The skills approach works by providing a map for how to
reach effective leadership in an organization: Leaders need
to have problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and
knowledge. Workers can improve their capabilities in
these areas through training and experience. Although
each leader’s personal attributes affect his or her skills, it
is the leader’s skills themselves that are most important in
addressing organizational problems.

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 First approach to conceptualize and create a structure
of the process of leadership around skills

 Describing leadership in terms of skills makes

leadership available to everyone

 Provides an expansive view of leadership that

incorporates wide variety of components (i.e., problem-
solving skills, social judgment skills)

 Provides a structure consistent with leadership

education programs
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 Breadth of the skills approach appears to extend
beyond the boundaries of leadership, making it more
general/less precise

 Weak in predictive value; does not explain how skills

lead to effective leadership performance

 Skills model includes individual attributes that are


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 The Skills Approach provides a way to outline the skills
of a leader

 It is applicable to leaders at all levels within the


 The skills inventory can provide insights into the

individual’s leadership competencies

 Test scores allow leaders to learn about areas in which

they may wish to seek further training
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