Traits and skills: where do we begin? At first glance it might look as though these two words have the same definition, but they surely do not. Thanks to #PSYCH485, you will now understand the important difference between the two! Within leadership, there are two approaches that explain how an individual becomes a leader. The trait approach focuses on hereditary and environmental factors, with the idea that a leader is born. (Lesson 2, p.3). The skills approach is under the belief that leaders can be made, because they learn leadership skills from the aspects of life around them. (Lesson 4, p.3).
Within the skills approach are three main categories of skills: technical, human, and conceptual. Katz (1955) refers to these as the Three Skills Model. Technical refers to the usage of knowledge and tools to get the work done. Human skills are people skills. Conceptual skills focus on creating ideas. (Lesson 4, p.4). One word that stuck out to me in the course textbook was the word ‘adaption’. According to Northouse (2015), “Leaders with human skills adapt their own ideas to those of others” (p.44). Connecting this to more information, Figure 3.1 on page 45 describes the need for technical, human, and conceptual skills at each level within an organization. It is interesting to see that human skills are the only skills in this group that stay consistently high for all levels of management. At the top level, technical skills are less important. At the lower level, conceptual skills are less important. Adaption is necessary on all levels of management, because a leader cannot go in to an organization close-minded.
At a church I used to attend, there was a pastor who had been there for many years. He was a leader of the church, and had a heart of gold. There was one problem: his human skills were not the best. While human skills fall under a behavior and can be learned, it seemed that he never expressed interest in learning such thing. This pastor did not adapt well with new church attendees, which was a big issue. When people are new to a church, they want to see if they fit in to the environment, if they get along with others there, and how the pastor conducts the service. Because church is not a one size fits all, and the people that attend all come from different backgrounds, the pastor needs to be able to fit the needs of all types of individuals. This requires adapting to new ideas and building strong relationships. It is hard to feel welcomed in a new place when the leader of that place barely attempts to reach out to you. The following link further explains more as to why pastors need human skills: http://sharperiron.org/article/people-skills-pastor.
This has led me to the realization that leaders need to want to be leaders. They cannot settle for where their traits direct them to be. Leaders are not just born: they are made. When your only form of leadership is that which you have been born in to, are you striving to become a better leader, or are you content with the spot you are in? Leaders need to continue their leadership development to stay up to date with their environments. If a person has fallen into a leadership title by their personality and intelligence, and they do not want to be a leader, they will lead their followers incorrectly.
I have used the words #lead, #leader, and #leadership a great amount in this blog. It may be appearing repetitive at this point, but let us not forget how we became the people that we are today. It is from those who have taught us our values and who have influenced our personalities. We behave in certain situations because of the way we have learned to do so. We follow in hopes of one day leading. It is up to each individual to decide what type of leader they want to be. May your development of leadership never come to an end. May you always want to strive to be a better you.
Northouse, Peter G. (Ed.). (2015). Leadership: Theory and Practice (7th Ed.).Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Paiz, J., Angeli, E., Wagner, J., Lawrick, E., Moore, K., Anderson, M., Soderlund, L., Brizee, A., Keck, R. (2014, November 11). In-Text Citations: The Basics. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/02/.
Pennsylvania State University (2016). Leadership in Work Settings—PSYCH 485. Online course lesson. Penn State World Campus. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved February 3, 2016 from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/sp16/psych485/002/content/04_lesson/03_page.html