Skills and Behavioral Approach

Leadership, 8th Edition

Author: Peter G. Northouse
VBID: 9781506362304

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ORG 5000
BOOK Northouse, P. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Unit Lesson
As leadership studies have matured, the generally accepted concepts of the trait approach began to be replaced with other ideas such as the skills and behavioral approaches. These two newer approaches are similar to the trait approach in that all three are focused on the leader. A primary difference is that the trait approach supposes that a leader will be effective based on certain personal traits, which means that an effective leader has those identified traits, and an ineffective leader does not. The skills approach focuses more on skills that can be developed through conscious effort, and the behavioral approach focuses exclusively on the behaviors of the leader, which can be learned and adjusted. In other words, the trait approach limits those who can be effective leaders to those who are born with certain traits, while the skill and behavior approaches leave room for leadership ability to be developed.

Skills Approach
In 1955, Robert Katz began the discussion on the skills approach by introducing the idea of three basic administrative skills: technical, human, and conceptual (Northouse, 2019). Leadership skills, it is argued, describe what one can accomplish as a leader, while traits describe who a leader is—his or her personal attributes. Technical skills refer to those skills needed in order to perform a specific task or job duty. For example, a supervisor in an oil field should be well versed in the operations of the equipment, the procedures for the extraction of the oil, and the safe storage and transportation of the oil. This level of skill is most important at the lower levels of leadership/supervision, such as frontline supervision and middle management while it is less important for executive-level leaders. The second basic administrative skill is human skill, which, as the name implies, is one’s ability to work with others. This includes motivation, conflict resolution, and peer influence. Human skills are important at all levels of organizational leadership including frontline supervision, middle management, and executive. The final basic administrative skill described by Katz (1955) UNIT II STUDY GUIDE Skills and Behavioral Approaches; APA ORG 5000, Personal Leadership Development 2 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title is conceptual skill, which describes an ability to see big picture concepts and deal with setting strategic direction. Conceptual skills are most important for executive-level leaders, and become less important moving down the organizational chart to frontline supervisors. A simple way of distinguishing between these three skills is that technical skills deal with things, human skills deal with people, and conceptual skills involve the ability to work with ideas. Just as general leadership studies have evolved, so has the study of the skills approach. Later conceptualizations expanded the skills approach to include competence, individual attributes, leadership outcomes, career experiences, and environmental influences (Northouse, 2019). Of these five elements, this later model depends on a flow that starts with individual attributes, which leads to competencies and ends with leadership outcomes. Career experiences can shape skills, knowledge, and abilities, thus influencing a leader’s competencies and individual attributes. Environmental influences are those factors, both internal and external, that are generally not under the leader’s control, yet they are still part of the skills model as they influence individual attributes, competencies, and leadership outcomes. (Northouse, 2019). Some strengths of this approach include its focus on intuitive, developable skills of leaders that include a breadth of components and a structured approach. Not unlike a sport or other activity, this approach teaches that leadership skills can be learned and developed with practice and coaching (Northouse, 2016). The very breadth that is a strength can also be considered a weakness, however, as the idea of developing these skills can extend beyond leadership. Additional criticisms include the potential lack of generalizability, the approach’s reliance on quite a few personal attributes, which are similar to traits, and its seeming lack of predictive value (Northouse, 2016). Despite these potential criticisms, the skills approach provides a framework to start the discussion on leadership development, taking the important first step beyond the trait approach.

Behavioral Approach
The behavioral approach moves beyond both the trait and skills, and begins to examine the importance of specific behaviors, or what leaders do, that produce effective results. In the late 1940s, The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan began research focused on the behaviors of leaders. These behaviors are discussed in two categories: task and relationship. In the 1960s, Blake and Mouton(1964) contextualized these behaviors within organizations. The three studies provide a detailed explanation of the behavioral approach to leadership (Northouse, 2019). The Ohio State University studies asked followers a number of questions about their leaders’ behavior. Stogdill (as cited by Northouse, 2019) reports that these studies found that most leader behaviors clustered, or were attributable, to two behavioral orientations: initiating structure, and consideration. In these studies, the behaviors associated with initiating structure match the description of the task orientation. Meanwhile, consideration is closely associated with the relationship behaviors. The critical finding of the Ohio State University studies is that these two clusters of behaviors were found to be independent of one another. In other words, one could be adept at the task-oriented behaviors that create structure and provide frameworks within which followers operate and be high, or low, in consideration for the followers as individuals. One does not affect the other. The early University of Michigan studies, on the other hand, placed the employee orientation (relationship behaviors) on one end of the same continuum that had production orientation (task behaviors) on the other end. Leaders would be either good at the task behaviors or good at the relationship behaviors but could not be good at both. Follow-up studies indicated that this initial finding seems incorrect, and the two orientations were placed on separate continua, as they were in the Ohio State University studies (Northouse, 2019). Blake and Mouton (as cited by Northouse, 2019) took this idea a step further, creating a two-axis, intersecting managerial grid (later changed to leadership grid), which has served as a widely accepted model that has been used by organizational development professionals for years. The two axes used to anchor this grid are concern for people, which correlates with the relationship behaviors, and concern for results, which correlates with task-focused behaviors, each of which is assigned a scale that runs from one (low concern) to nine, (high concern). This grid creates quadrants, each of which is designated as a different leadership style. The different leadership styles are as follows. ORG 5000, Personal Leadership Development 3 UNIT x STUDY GUIDE Title High concern for people and low concern for results is called country-club leadership.• High concern for people and high concern for results is called team leadership.• Low concern for people and low concern for results is called impoverished leadership.• Low concern for people and high concern for results is called authority-compliance leadership.• Finally, halfway on each axis (a five on each scale) is called middle-of-the-road leadership.• The takeaway from these three sets of studies, and corresponding results, is that the behavioral leadership approach is concerned with what the leader actually does, and the accepted model’s focus on two types of behaviors, task orientation and people orientation.

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Unit I Discussion Board
Identify a leader from your past who seemed to be a natural-born leader. Discuss how he or she demonstrated traits that led you to that impression of him or her. If you do not remember anyone who fits that description, then try to think of someone who was the opposite, someone who just seemed to be lost in a leadership position. Discuss how he or she led you to that impression of him or her. (Please do not share any names).

Unit II Discussion Board
Having now studied the trait approach, skills approach, and behavioral approach, which seems to appeal the most to you to assess your current, past, or proposed future professional or personal situation? Share how you can use your preferred approach. If none of them resonate with you, explain why, and offer alternatives you find useful.

Unit 3 Discussion Board
Reflect on a time when you worked on a team that had a clearly articulated goal, a clear path to the achievement of that goal, and a desirable personal outcome to the achievement of that goal. Now reflect on a time when you had the opposite situation: an ambiguous goal, multiple obstacles to overcome, and a lack of personally beneficial results (rewards). Briefly describe for the class each situation, identify which situation motivated you more, and explain why you were more motivated. In responding to your classmates, suggest possible actions that might have been taken to improve the lower motivation situation. For more information on Skills and Behavioral Approach visit this:

Skills and Behavioral Approach

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