In Katz’, 1955 Three-Skills Approach which is focused on the skills approach to leadership and breaks down three personal skills that lead to effective leadership, Human Skill is highlighted in Leadership Theory and Practice as the ability to work with people (Northouse, 2016). This very much reminded me of a hot topic in leadership today known as emotional intelligence, the ability to manage emotions within oneself and in relationships with others. Many leaders lack this important part of the leadership skill triad and I was reminded of a time where I experienced a lack of Human Skill in a leader.
In a previous job, I had a very emotional boss who was constantly jumping to conclusions and making emotional assumptions about others on the team. As an example he once told me that my “short” text messages made him feel as if I am “bothered” by him. Because I had an awareness of his emotional instability, I very calmly let him know that I would like to understand more of where he was coming from and listened to him explain his perspective. After gaining an understanding of his need for extra emotional formalities in texts and emails, I explained to him that on my end there is no underlying emotion to be analyzed in my emails or texts and that I simply respond at rapid pace to get him the answer needed as quickly as possible (which had in the past been praised).
Ultimately, by approaching the situation respectfully and gaining an understanding of each other’s perspectives and out of respect to him as my manager, I was happy to oblige and alter my communication with him even though I disagreed. It was a small tweak that helped sustain our working relationship though a situation like this should not have happened in the first place. This experience, however, caused me to loose respect for this leader and his leadership ability, as I did not feel he had a grasp on reality and his emotions outweighed what was most important to getting the job done.
The importance of emotional intelligence can be summed up by many of the quotes listed here. One example is, “If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” (Daniel Goleman as cited by Inc. Magazine).
As Katz, 1955 pointed out, the amount of Technical and Conceptual skill needed can vary based on the leader’s position within an organization, however, all leaders at all levels need high amounts of Human Skill in order to be successful (Katz, 1955 as cited by Northouse, 2016).