According to the Skills Model, the ability to lead focuses on particular attributes that one can learn and acquire along their life path (Northouse, 2013). These attributes or traits are skills that enhance a person’s ability to effectively lead. Katz’s Three Skill Approach emphasizes a person’s technical skills, human skills and conceptual skills to describe the leadership style. Technical skills focus on the leaders’ knowledge and expertise in the area of work task (Peterson & Van Fleet, 2004). This technical knowledge can be enhanced and developed as time goes on. Leaders in the managerial positions may not always be hands on with products but their expertise in the area allows them to further educate subordinates (Peterson & Van Fleet, 2004).
The next skill for Katz is the human skill, the ability to relate and work with people, as you need followers to be a leader (Northouse, 2013). This second skill is the one I would argue it impossible to keep personality and behavior out of leadership. How is it even possible to interact without your personality affecting it? I personally cannot recall any boss in my history that did not react and behave according to their personality traits. There was one boss who I would say had encompassed two personality traits, according to Koeger & Theusen, that directly affected her reaction to situations; feeler and introvert (Northouse, 2013). On the positive side these traits made her empathetic, cooperative, reflective and loyal. On the down side when it came to resolving internal staff issues or organizational compromises those two traits made her hesitant and limited I her decision making. Those traits influenced her skills in leadership. Look at Steve Jobs, he has been described as intense, controlling, and a perfectionist (Isaacson, 2012). Jobs’ personality could be described as Maccoby’s productive narcissist type (Northouse, 2013). He was not narcissist in an egotistical manner, he simply knew what he wanted and he motivated those around him to accomplish great things. Jobs was driven and highly in tune with getting a concept from his brain to reality. His personality traits impacted his skills in dealing with colleagues and situations (Isaacson, 2012).
The third Kratz skill is conceptual which defines the leader as capable of envisioning and planning for the organizations future. This skill includes the ability to operate with ideas (Northouse, 2013). Again, wouldn’t a leader’s idea be influenced by their core traits? Someone, such as my aforementioned boss, did not really come up with grand ideas. She kept a more basic approach when planning for the future, a safer sounder route. Then you have a leader like Steve Jobs, who awed the world with some of innovative products. Jobs reached for the stars because his personality allowed him to. The comfort zone was not in his DNA, he wanted greatness in his products (Isaacson, 2012). Jobs wanted creations for the public that they didn’t even know they wanted them until he introduced them (Isaacson, 2012).
So, we can say skills approach allows for behaviors to be learned unlike the trait approach which emphasizes innate qualities (Pennsylvania State University, 2017). The way I look at it is both approaches involve one’s mind. Your personality is how you think and how you react to your thought process. The skills approach bases leadership behaviors as a learned process (Pennsylvania State University, 2017). Learning is also a thought process. To tie both together look at Steve Jobs. He had strong innate personality traits incorporated with the ability to continually learn and create which both shaped in his behaviors in his organization. So, it seems to me that traits and behaviors have an overlapping impact on a leader’s performance.
Isaacson, W. (2012). The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs. Harvard Business Review, 92-102.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
Peterson, T. O., & Van Fleet, D. D. (2004). The ongoing legacy of R.L. Katz: An updated typology of management skills. Management Decision, 1297-1308.
University, P. S. (2017). Skills approach. Psych: 485: Leadership in Work Settings.