Three Skills Approach to Leadership


Researchers have investigated leadership skills, either directly or indirectly for several years now. Among the recent theories is the skills theory which develops from the flaws of the trait theory. According to the traits theory, only people who have particular abilities, interests, and personality are capable of becoming effective leaders. This indicates that the approach does not cater for developing new leaders, and thus people who lack the traits of leadership are unable to lead well. Robert Kaz, who developed the three-skills leadership approach, believed that effective leadership should be based on knowledge and abilities within a person. According to Kaz, the three basic types of management skills include technical skills, conceptual skills, and interpersonal skills.

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Human or Interpersonal skills

The human or interpersonal skills are skills that enable a person in a leadership position to relate, work, or interact with people effectively (Puccio et al., 2010). They are the skills that allow a manager to obtain the best out of human resources. The characteristics of excellent human skills include the ability to understand people’s behaviors, motives, feelings, and attitudes. The success of an organization depends on the leader’s expertise in handling all parties in an organization from the top management, supervisors, and the subordinate staffs.  Interpersonal skills enable leaders to understand how to influence a group to work effectively towards the efficient achievement of particular objectives of the organization. Leaders employ human skills to monitor the thoughts of members of their organization and correlate them with the views of others to enhance productivity.   The slight difference between human and interpersonal skills is that the latter is more sensitive and focuses on ideas that would motivate members of the organization to work more effectively.

Technical skills

Technical skills refer to skills that enable the manager to employ a variety of techniques to achieve their goals. They entail an individual’s level of know-how in the different areas of production within an organization. The skills include the level of knowledge on how to operate machines and software, use various equipment of production, and use production tools well. The skills also involve having adequate knowledge on how to expand the market for the products of an organization, the ability to innovate new designs, and also how to make more sales (Kearns et al., 2015). The skills determine an individual’s competency and proficiency in different activities. A good leader must, therefore, understand the rules and regulations, the standard operating requirements, and the products of the organization. In an organization, the top management possesses the least technical skills. The middle managers have average technical skills, while the supervisory managers are required to have the highest levels of technical skills (Frawley et al., 2018). The supervisory management is the group who interact most with the employees. They oversee the work of the employees, conduct employee meetings, review their performance, hire, and also fire employees whenever necessary on behalf of the company.

Conceptual skills

Conceptual skills refer to skills that enable an individual to think critically and formulate viable ideas. Leaders employ conceptual skills to evaluate the system, identify a problem, and invent possible solutions to the problem (Rosch & Anthony, 2012). It is therefore useful in predicting potential challenges that an organization may face and preparing adequately to handle the problem or eliminate it in advance. The skills are mainly applied in the senior management of an organization in the procession of thoughts that could help the organization achieve its long term goals.  The skills work well in collaboration with the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, and also express the economic principles in an organization. Leaders who develop conceptual skills find it easy to ask hypothetical questions and thus work comfortably with abstract ideas.  Leaders, therefore, must practice conceptual skills since they are crucial to creating a vision and strategizing plans in an organization.

Baltimore Technology Consultants

An example of a company that uses the three-skill approach to leadership is the Baltimore Technology consultants. In the company’s human resource department, there is a supervisory boss who used to guide interns through the timetable of what needed to be done and when it was to be done. He had excellent communication skills and thus managed to work exceptionally well with other employees across all departments. He also possesses a good understanding of her responsibilities in the office, which was evident from how he applied his vast knowledge and technical skills in the human resource profession. He knew how to recruit employees, was perfect in employee relations, and had a full understanding of the company’s insurance policy. However, the supervisor is rarely involved in the setting the company’s objectives and deciding the strategies of the company and therefore, did not require as much as conceptual skills. In the department, the supervisor reported directly to the Director of Human resource in the company. The director, who led the human resource department, was mostly involved in making strategies that could make the hiring process more efficient. She not only needed to have a vision for the future, but also the ability to encourage other managers of the various departments and convey some motivational techniques that were critical to all departments. The top management of the company comprised of a president and a vice president who mainly concerned themselves with the business planning that would help the company achieve its vision and mission. The two were continually planning and negotiating contracts with prospective clients or other corporations on how to build the company. Their primary interest was on developing the company and maximizing its profits. They kept constant communication with the other managers to ensure smooth operations within the company. However, their level of skills with regards to the daily activities of the company was limited. It was common to hear a supervisor being summoned in the top offices to solve computer malfunctions.    

Skill Mixes Exhibited

Some of the skill mixes observed included some supervisors having excellent communication skills but with poor technical skills in most areas. The company deals in software and therefore supervisors are expected to have specialized skills in running software, for example, knowledge of Linux Operating System or Java programming language. However, the human resources supervisor related well with employees but had little experience in Database management. Such events impact negatively on the production of an organization. Employees depend on supervisors to guide them whenever they encounter challenges in performing particular tasks at work. Working with supervisors who are not conversant with their areas of production may lead to delays while waiting for a supervisor from another department to assist (Delk, 2019). In the case of Baltimore Technology Consultants, it was advisable that they consider engaging such supervisors in a department where interpersonal skills were needed. 


Delk, C. W. (2019). Leadership: A Simple Situational Approach: Strategic Leadership for a practical leadership style. Leadership Excellence, 36(5), 14–16.

Frawley, S., Favaloro, D., & Schulenkorf, N. (2018). Experience-Based Leadership Development and Professional Sport Organizations. Journal of Sport Management, 32(2), 123–134.

Kearns, K. P., Livingston, J., Scherer, S., & McShane, L. (2015). Leadership skills as construed by nonprofit chief executives. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 36(6), 712-727.

Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2010). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change. Sage Publications.Rosch, D. M., & Anthony, M. D. (2012). Leadership pedagogy: Putting theory to practice. New Directions for Student Services, 2012(140), 37-51.

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