Station 3:
Leadership is a Skill

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DEBRIEF: EXPLORING THE FIVE THEORIES OF LEADERSHIP

ACTIVITY

Review the five theories of leadership as a group and then reflect on them together.

SELF-REFLECTION

ASSIGNMENT

Consider which theory of leadership most resonates with you.

WHAT DEFINES A LEADER? TWO PRESIDENTS SPEAK OUT

WATCH

Listen to former U.S. presidents discuss what leadership qualities they find most important.

Dr. Peter G. Northouse, a noted authority on leadership, states the following about “Leadership Is a Skill”:

"Conceptualized as a skill, leadership is a competency developed to accomplish a task effectively. Skilled leaders are competent people who know the means and methods for carrying out their responsibilities. For example, a skilled leader in a fund-raising campaign knows every step and procedure in the fund-raising process and is able to use this knowledge to run an effective campaign. In short, skilled leaders are competent—they know what they need to do and they know how to do it. 

Describing leadership as a skill makes leadership available to everyone because skills are competencies that people can learn or develop. Even without natural leadership ability, people can improve their leadership with practice, instruction, and feedback from others. Viewed as a skill, leadership can be studied and learned. If you are capable of learning from experience, you can acquire leadership."


This accessibility is seen by scholars as a strength of skill theory.

 

Unlike trait theory in which traits are viewed as innate, skill theory places emphasis upon problem-solving skills, social judgment skills, and knowledge that can be cultivated and learned. 


 

 

A criticism of skill theory is that it explains neither how skills lead to effective leadership nor the effectiveness of specific skills in multiple contexts.

References

Peter G. Northouse, Introduction to Leadership: Concepts and Practice (Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, 2009).


Peter G. Northouse, Leadership: Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004).

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