At first I thought this week’s readings were another hash tag of week 3’s leader ship readings. But as I read the resources, I realized it was more about the development of administrative skills rather than leadership qualities. The prevailing argument I find this week seems to revolve around the efficacy of skill classification and their development.
First of all, Katz (1955) have established three general areas of skills that attribute to successful administration: Technical, human and conceptual. Technical skill, is as it sounds, the actual knowledge behind the processes involved in the business can be learnt traditionally through educational programs and training. Similar to the reading, there is little argument to the value of this on the lower levels, however, one would argue. Particularly within the innovative sector where hierarchical is flat and power to be decentralized, there is an increased emphasis on technical comprehension as these organizations are often small in man power and operate in adhocratic structures. This is reflected in the various technical industries where groups within an organization are formed (often without leaders) to tackle specific problems that require ingenuity.
The human skill is described as the ability to work together with other humans effectively and understand the dynamics of the human resource. There are many different ways this can be trained in terms of education of the humanities into corporate sponsored mediation programs. However, the efficacy of these developmental efforts are often varied across individuals as it is often a matter of long term experience coupled with an individual’s innate ability. In an anecdotal example, it is easy to learn the different processes and methods to how to deal with a problematic employee, however, the ability to feel empathy and understand the entire situation is a different matter entirely. The methods taught in mediation courses have a tendency to focus on the symptoms rather than the source of the problems themselves. Taking this into account, human skill is massively important for administrative purposes due to the complex nature it presents. The proficiency of said skill would require a significant investment in changing one’s fundamental patterns of thought rather than more basic levels of learning.
The conceptual skill is the holistic understanding of the organization as a whole. It is the ability to see the bigger picture and understand how certain changes can affect the great business ecosystem. This is perhaps the most difficult skill to develop as it has a lot of properties that resemble the concept of vision described by Collins (2005). It is very difficult to pin down as a concept let alone find a specific method to develop it. Although, just from personal experience with mikes bikes and most of my courses within university. There are constant reminders that what we learn in theory will have to be applied interactively as there is no cookie cutter solution to most managerial problems. This can also be seen by several courses that tend to start the content with incredibly broad subjects which then break into several components then brought back together at the end to evaluate how it works as a whole. Although this is already in practice, it would appear that time and time again, there are people who just appear to have superior insight or understanding of the teachings overall than others. Why is that?
I personally think it comes down to a combination of innate skill and circumstantial obligations. There are those out there who are simply more equipped at being leaders than others. Even if you place everyone in a controlled environment with the exact same resources, chances are, there will be a big range of performance of what-ever activity at hand. This is not to say that development of those who are less capable is a waste of time, but rather, there is a fine line between genuine ingenuity and emulation. As it is always emphasized in Bloom’s taxonomy, even though the criteria for higher level thinking is established. An individual’s ability to apply those teachings ultimately comes down to the individual natural capabilities. The way around this dilemma is probably a mixture of educational practices and societal expectations of what is ‘success’. In other words, rather than teaching people what do say and what to think, it would be more beneficial to teach them how they can come to their own conclusions and get them to ask why? This goes full circle back to the reflective writing exercises as one of the core objectives of the paper.
Collins, J. C. (2005). Level 5 leadership: the triumph of humility and fierce resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136–146
Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33–42.
Nentl, N., & Zietlow, R. (2008). Using bloom's taxonomy to teach critical thinking skills to business students. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15(1-2), 159--172. doi:10.1080/10691310802177135