Leadership: Skills Theory
The next installment of leadership posts is going to focus on what the researcher Katz referred to as Skills Theory. His basic premise was that instead of focusing on personality traits, as the last post discussed, we should focus on skill sets. The strengths of an individual would be indicative of leadership ability, or lack thereof.
Katz broke down skills into three different categories: conceptual, interpersonal, and technical. Conceptual skills were essentially the ability to see the big picture, to understand how items fit within the larger scheme. Interpersonal skills were the ability to develop and maintain good relationships. Technical skills were the ability to do the more detailed, inner-workings of a process, like installing car parts on an assembly line.
The end result of Katz’s theory was that those with great conceptual skills, but lacking the technical skills, were better suited to upper management type positions, executives who didn’t have to work in the trenches, but who could fit the different pieces of the process together. On the other hand, people with great technical skills, but lacking conceptual skills, were better suited to be in the front lines, working with the details of the process. People who
possessed all three skill sets were best suited for middle management, acting as the bridge between the technically inclined and the conceptually inclined.
One point of note in Katz’s research is that not only did his system on finding out an individual’s skills look at their ability, but also at their desire for that particular skill. He didn’t just ask if they were good at technical work, he asked if they liked technical work. This does make it difficult to interpret results at times, as what someone is good at is not always what they want.
How does this relate to football or sports in general? A head football coach, according to Katz, would need to be very conceptual, focused on the bigger picture. A position coach, on the other hand, would need to be more technically inclined, able to install the small pieces and details of the system. A coordinator should possess both conceptual and technical skills, as it will be their job to make sure the two match.
While Katz’s research does provide more insight versus the trait theory, it really is not a good indicator of leadership ability, rather, just what sort of position a person is best suited for. The upcoming theories help delve deeper into leadership and how to analyze effective leadership.
SPU's Alex Drayson writes the SPU Football Performance Blog.