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Trait and Skills approach
Transcript of Trait and Skills approach
Bennis, W. G., & Nanus, B. (1985). Leaders: The strategies for taking charge. New York: Harper & Row.
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Zaleznik, A. (1977, May-June). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55, 67-78. Challenging tasks on the job
Hands-on problem-solving experiences
Help leaders develop and improve
Performance improves if tasks get progressively more difficult Career experiences Career Experiences “The skills model suggests that the experiences acquired in the course of leaders’ careers influence their knowledge and skills to solve complex problems.” (p. 47) “The criteria for good problem solving are determined by the originality and the quality of expressed solutions to problem situations.” (p. 46) Effective Problem Solving Master complex organizational tasks
Take charge/proclaim dominance
Committed to advancing the general population (“social good”) or the organization as a whole Motivation Learned over time
Linked to experience
Increases over time but does not decline later in life
New learning Crystallized Cognitive Ability “Knowledge refers to the accumulation of information and the mental structures used to organize that information.” (p. 43)
Such mental structures are called schema
More complex organizing structures
Apply past solutions to future problems Knowledge “In general, social judgment skills refer to the capacity to understand people and social systems.” (p. 41-42)
Works well with others
Used to solve organizational problems Social judgment skills Skills are capable of developing
Focuses more on what leaders can do rather than who they are
Five components: competencies, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences, and environmental influences Skills model 1,800 Army officers, ranging from lieutenant to colonel, were studied for a number of years
Skills, experiences and situations of the officers were assessed during the study
The study was conducted to explain what made them perform so well
The study focused specifically on how specific skills, experiences and environments affected performance Research behind the skills model “Technical skill is having knowledge about and being proficient in a specific type of work or activity.” (p. 36)
Being able to perform a specialized task, analyze something or use tools and strategies
Example: being able to understand and work with computer software
Being “hands on with a product or process
Most important at lower levels of management Technical skill Katz’s three skill approach “Based on field research in administration and his own firsthand observations of executives in the workplace, Katz (1955) suggested that effective administration (i.e., leadership) depends on three basic personal skills: technical, human, and conceptual.” (p. 36) There was not a list of traits that existed in all of the researchers’ findings; the list appears endless.
The approach does not factor in situations.
Traits defined as “most important” may be different for different leadership positions.
Fails to look at the outcome of leadership traits in employee satisfaction and productivity.
It is hard to teach new traits. Criticisms “Sociability refers to a leader’s inclination to seek out pleasant social relationships.” (20)
Sensitive to the needs of others
Concerned for the well-being of others
Create relationships Sociability “Determination refers to the desire to get the job done and includes characteristics such as initiative, persistence, dominance and drive” (p. 20)
Perseverance despite obstacles
Exert dominance in situations where leaders are needed Determination Major leadership traits After a century of research an extended list of desirable leadership traits was compiled. Six traits were seen as the most central ones. Re-assessed Mann and used meta-analysis (contrasting and combining results from different studies)
Distinct differences between leaders and non-leaders in all situations
Individuals view leaders as intelligent, masculine and dominant Lord, DeVader and Alliger (1986) He examined over 1,400 findings on personality and leadership in small groups
Personality traits will separate leaders and non-leaders in all situations
Leadership traits include: intelligence, masculinity, adjustment, dominance, extroversion and conservatism Mann (1959) “Stogdill suggested that no consistent set of traits differentiated leaders from non leaders across a variety of situations.” (p. 16)
A leader in one situation may not be a leader in a different situation
Personal factors of leaders are relative to situations Mid-20th Century Trait and Skills Approaches Variety of skills go beyond typical leadership boundaries making the approach less precise
Doesn’t explain how individual variations in skill affect leadership
Fails to explain how the expressed skills affect leadership performance
The “individual attributes” component of the model is much like the trait approach
Because studies were conducted with military personnel, it is questionable if the approach applies to other leadership contexts Criticisms Skills that can be learned and developed are essential to all levels of leadership
Makes leadership available to all
Explains leadership in broader terms, with a wider variety of necessary components and sub-components
Structured similar to leadership education programs Strengths Components of the skills model that are not under the control of the leader
Ex: High-speed technology within a company can make problem solving and task completion easier Environmental influences Environmental Influences “Environmental influences represent factors in a leader’s situation that lie outside the leader’s competencies, characteristics, and experiences.” (p. 48) “In the model, performance outcomes refer to how well the leader has done his or her job.” (p. 46) Performance Leadership Outcomes “Effective problem solving and performance represent the outcomes of leadership.” (p. 46) Personality affects the development of skills
Certain situations call for characteristics that make skills come more naturally
Ex: openness makes problem solving easier Personality Ability to process multiple perceptions
Ability to process general information
Developed reasoning skills
Thinking that leads to multiple solutions (divergent)
Linked to biology
Grows through life and declines with age General Cognitive Ability Individual Attributes The four main attributes that contribute to leadership include: general cognitive ability, crystallized cognitive ability, motivation and personality Perspective taking- “understanding the attitudes that others have toward a particular problem or solution” (p. 42)
Social perceptiveness- “having insight and awareness into how others within the organization function” (p. 42)
Behavioral flexibility- “the capacity to change and adapt one’s behavior in light of an understanding of others’ perspectives in the organization” (p. 42)
Social performance- “based on an understanding of employees’ perspectives, leaders need to be able to effectively communicate their own vision to others” (p. 42-43) Social judgment skills (cont’d) “Problem-solving skills refer to a leader’s creative ability to solve new and unusual, ill-defined organizational problems.” (p. 40)
Gather information about problem
Generate multiple possible scenarios
Consider the effect the solutions will have on employees Problem-solving skills Competencies “Problem solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge are at the heart of the skills model. These three competencies are the key factors that account for effective performance.” (p. 40) Mumford and Colleagues: the skills-based model “ The model is characterized as a capability model because it examines the relationship between a leader’s knowledge and skills (i.e. capabilities) and the leader’s performance.” (p. 39) “Broadly speaking, conceptual skills are abilities to work with ideas and concepts.” (p. 38)
Ability to communicate ideas and goals of the company
Deals with visionary ideas for the company/organization
Implements future plans
Easily conveys the vision and plan to others
Most important at the top level of management Conceptual skill “Human skill is having knowledge about and being able to work with people.” (p. 37)
“people skills” (p. 37)
Being aware of multiple perspectives
Making employees feel comfortable
Encouraging employees to participate in planning
Equally important at all levels of management Human skill “Skills imply what leaders can accomplish whereas traits imply who leaders are.” (p. 36)
Leadership skills can be developed by training Three-skill approach People need to see leaders as gifted people and as having a list of “leader specific traits”. It fulfills this need.
There is an entire century of research to back up trait theory.
Provides a deeper understanding of how personality is related to the leadership process.
Provides a standard for what traits to strive for if we want to be leaders. Strengths Organizations can create leadership profiles for certain positions and assess job candidates based on individuals traits
Individuals can analyze their own traits to gain an idea of their strengths and weaknesses before becoming a leader
Managers can assess their leadership qualities to see how others view them and where improvement is needed What is it used for? “Integrity is the quality of honesty and trustworthiness.” (p. 20)
Abide by a strong set of principles
Take responsibility for actions
Trustworthy Integrity “Self-confidence is the ability to be certain about one’s competencies and skills” (p. 19)
Belief in one’s ability to make a difference
Leader feels confident in his or her ability to influence others Self-confidence “Having strong verbal ability, perceptual ability, and reasoning appears to make one a better leader” (p. 19)
Higher intelligence may lead to difficulty in communicating ideas Intelligence After looking at a mixture of other research they found that it is “unequivocally clear that leaders are not like other people” (p. 17)
Six traits separate leaders from non-leaders including: drive, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, cognitive ability and knowledge of the business
Individuals can either be born with the traits, learn them or learn some and be born with some Kirkpatrick and Locke Expanded on his previous study by analyzing another 163 studies completed between 1948 and 1970 and comparing them to his original results
Found that personality and situational factors determined good leaders Stogdill (1974) Stogdill analyzed 124 previously conducted trait studies from the year 1904 to 1947
Innate vs. learned
Identified a list of key traits that separated leaders from non-leaders in various groups (intelligence, alertness, insight, responsibility, initiative, persistence, self-confidence and sociability)
Individuals with such traits do not automatically become leaders; traits must be relevant to the situation Stogdill (1948) Research and Findings Five studies were conducted by different individuals and groups to determine leadership “traits” “Personality traits were strongly associated with individuals’ perceptions of leadership.” (p. 16)
Leaders are distinct types of people in several ways
Renewed the emphasis on specific traits for leaders and non-leaders More Recently “ It was believed that people were born with these traits and only the ‘great’ people possessed them.” (p. 15)
“great man” theories
Innate qualities and characteristics Early 20th Century Trait Theory Progression Trait theories throughout the 20th century Based on a collaboration of studies from multiple colleagues Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership: Theory, research and managerial application (3rd ed.). New York: Free Press.
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Katz, R. L. (1955, January-February). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review.
Mumford, M. D., & Connelly, M. S. (1991). Leaders as creators: Leader performance and problem solving in ill-defined domains. Leadership Quarterly, 2, 289-315.
Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Connelly, M. S., & Marks, M. A. (2000). Leadership skills: Conclusions and future directions. Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 155-170.
Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Hardin, F. D., Owen Jacobs, T., & Fleishman, E.A. (2000). Leadership skills for a changing world: Solving complex social problems. Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 11-35.
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