Leadership and Teams

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The skill approach to leadership is a leader-centered perspective which emphasizes on skills that can be learned and developed. Specifically, leaders are expected to learn and develop three important skills: technical, human and conceptual (Northouse, 2012). A comprehensive understanding of all these skills can affect on a leader’s ability to exert influence on others and thereby impact team effectiveness.  Starting with technical skills, front-line supervisors can utilize these skills to understand the nature of work and technology their employee is using.  Because of this, supervisors can build rapport with employees because together they understand the demands and needs of a particular assignment. The actions by supervisors to understand the technical skills utilized by employees are vital in ‘entering the world of the other’ which aids in bonding with others in the workplace. As argued in an article by (Civico, 2015), influencing others by building a rapport requires one to step out of his/her world, and enter into the world of another.

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Moreover, the human skills prepare leaders to deal with others based on a person’s knowledge about people and how they behave, their feelings, their attitudes, and motives (Northouse, 2012). Leaders can utilize human skills to exert influence by creating the right environment, such as creating opportunities for employees to interact which allows them to forge networking relationships (Johnson, 2008). For example, leaders can arrange for seminars, company-sponsored social events, and so forth, which affords opportunities for employees to get together and interact with whom they might not have otherwise met.

As regards conceptual skills, leaders use this to solve problems, deal with abstract ideas, and to figure out what needs to be done next (Northouse, 2012). These skills can impact a leader’s ability to exert influence by enabling them to be committed and consistent while thinking through ideas that form’s part of the organization’s future. In this case, if a leader is interested in an employee’s proposal initially, then he/she will probably continue to support it as the idea is developed.  What’s more, leaders can take advantage of their conceptual skills and get employees’ commitment early on, by involving them in the development of an idea.

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Furthermore, the skills approach to leadership can impact team member relationships and their cohesion. A key to workplace cohesion is trust, and the key to trust is balance (Cohen, 2015). In this case, a leader that wants to create a trustful work environment has to balance his/her needs with the needs of the employees. Balancing needs is not simple as it sounds because while a leader understands his/her needs, the needs of employees are invisible.

Making use of human skills can help a leader effectively balance his/her needs with the needs of the subordinates because they empower leaders to become cognizant of thought of others (Northouse, 2012). Leaders with excellent human skills are well positioned to be receptive and compassionate with the factors that keep their subordinates motivated and consider the needs of others when deciding on organizational strategies (Northouse, 2012).

Also, as earlier stated, the skills approach to leadership has great influence on the rapport between employees and their subordinates. Typically, rapport is about building respect and being able to influence each other (Cohen, 2015). Rapport is essential in any situation where a leader is seeking to help subordinates bring about change. Without rapport, it is difficult to create a work environment in which all feel comfortable and be able to work with cohesion. With skills approach, especially technical and human skills, a  leader and his subordinates to be open and honest about what is affecting their work performance and then work out on solutions. This is because rapport is the connection between people, and allows an employee and his/her leader to respect the model of their different work environment, even if they do not agree with what they are saying (Cohen, 2015).

Moreover, the skills leadership approach could potentially lead to negative or positive intergroup attitudes. A workplace that often experiences negative attitudes among employees can be as a result of poor application of skills approach to leadership. For example, a front-line supervisor who does not have a full understanding of technical skills can put their self-interest ahead of the best interest of the employees. In this case, a supervisor may not be competent and knowledgeable regarding a firm’s operating procedure, but still require the employees to apply extra efforts in achieving a particular goal, though it seems impossible. Here, the supervisor is after his/her goals, fame, or glory; which are all wrong.

Another way the skills approach to leadership can have a detrimental effect on attitudes is being certain and not aware that things are constantly changing. This applies specifically to leaders with poor conceptual skills which inhibits their ability to work with abstract ideas and ask ‘what if’ questions (Northouse, 2012). In this technology-driven century, things are constantly changing, and some leaders can confuse the stability of their mindset, hence act as if they know everything. Consequently,  this negatively affects the attitudes of employees in a workplace.

Altogether, the skills approach can lead to positive intergroup attitudes if leaders fully grasp the three skills. For example, mastery of human skills can ensure subordinates trust a leader because such a leader understands the employees’ thoughts on different issues and is aware of thoughts of others (Northouse, 2012). , What’s, more, the human skills enables a leader to be congruent with who a leader presents himself to be and who the leader is actually are. Because of this, the skills approach ensures leaders have the interest of other employees at heart, and this, in turn, leads to positive attitudes in a workplace, enhancing productivity.

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Also, the skills approach ensures leaders are competent, making them earn respect from employees. Socrates once said, ‘let him that would move the world, first move himself (Wood, 2015, p. 66)’. If a leader cannot demonstrate that he/she is competent in skills such as human, conceptual, and technical, then employees will have less respect and exhibit negative attitudes. But with skills approach which describes leadership regarding skills, a leader appears competent and encourages employees to display positive attitudes.

The following is a plan that will improve team effectiveness in an organization making use of skills approach to leadership.

  1. Streamline role model development- Role models are instrumental in developing the best in employees, especially regarding forming teamwork environments
Choose exceptional leaders that exhibit noteworthy leadership behaviors and then empower them to be role model to others Collecting formal feedback using strengths-based performance reviews questionnaires
  1. Effectively communicate expectations- Communication is known to produce enthusiasm and encourage a workplace culture of open exchange and support
Develop a communication strategy that fits with the organizational goals and also ensure leaders relate to employees interpersonally Track completed communication events, reports, and rates of deeper conversations and real dialogue
  1. Guarantee opportunity for continuous learning – Employees desire to learn and develop their knowledge base
Allow for job and development opportunities Measuring the employees’ ability to demonstrate a proper level of job knowledge


Did you like this sample?
  1. Civico, A. (2015, June 11). 3 Ways to Build Rapport and Influence Others. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/turning-point/201506/3-ways-build-rapport-and-influence-others
  2. Cohen, A. (2015). Fairness in the Workplace: A Global Perspective. Berlin, Germany: Springer.
  3. Johnson, L. K. (2008, February 28). Exerting Influence Without Authority. Retrieved from Havard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2008/02/exerting-influence-without-aut
  4. Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom: SAGE.
  5. Wood, D. C. (2015). Let Us Coach You: A Guide to Wellness. Google.
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