Leadership Today
Leadership’s Changing Skills


Research shows that many of the skills required for great leadership fall into three basic categories—technical, interpersonal, and conceptual. The importance of these relative to each other shifts as the leader moves up in the organization’s structure.[1]

 
For front line supervisors, coaches or project/team leaders, the technical skills are critical. As a leader advances up the chain-of-command, the importance of technical skills begins to give way to increased importance of conceptual skills.
It isn’t that supervisors and coaches do not need conceptual skills. It is just that as they move up in the organization, the conceptual abilities to perceive and plan further out on the horizon become increasingly important.
As the diagram shows, the interpersonal skills remain equally critical at all levels within an organization. In other words, leadership is all about people. Regardless of the management level, the leaders’ skills in working through people are critical to the success of the enterprise.  More than ever before, organizations are investing in the development of "soft skills" for their leaders.  The successful flow of information is a perpetual challenge in most organizations, whether large or small.  In recent leadership surveys, the number one leadership challenge cited by participants was developing management and people skills in technically-oriented people.  Although many professionals know what needs to be done and how to get the technical job done, many have difficulty communicating this to others and motivating employees in order to achieve the best results. 
Leadership Adaptability
Three variables come into play:
The leader:
It is important to remember that each leader is an individual, each with unique strengths, talents, experiences and leadership style preferences. These are important in the approach to empowerment.
The follower (or team):
Certainly the employees and teams in an organization are not all alike. In fact, we spend a lot of resources trying to leverage the diversity that exists within groups. Again, the individual talents, skills, experiences and motivations will demand leadership flexibility.
The situation:
Even with the same person or team, the individual leader’s approach to empowerment will need to vary based on different situations and circumstances encountered in the work of the organization. Time, complexity, costs and other factors will always have an influence.

 [1] Research noted by Robert Katz at Harvard University

 
As always, best wishes in your Leadership Journey,

Larry

 

 

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