Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation

Management Skills

Regardless of the sort of goals they must meet or their level of authority, managers need to possess conceptual, human, technical, diagnostic, and political skills. The first three skills have long been accepted as important for management, the last two have received more recent attention.

According to a classic article by Robert L. Katz, managerial success depends primarily on performance rather than personality traits. He indicates that three types of skills are important for successful management performance:

 * Conceptual skills. Conceptual skill is the cognitive ability to see the organization as a whole and the relationship among its parts. Managers need the  mental capacity to understand how various functions of the organization complement one another, how the organization relates to its environment, and how changes in one part of the organization affect the rest of the organization.

 * Human skills. The manager needs human skills: the ability to communicate with, understand, and motivate both individuals and groups.

 * Technical skills. Technical skills are skills necessary to accomplish specialized activities (e.g., engineering, computer programming, and accounting).

The diagnostic skill is from Ricky Griffin, and the political skill is from Pavett and Lau :

 * Diagnostic skills. Diagnostic skills include the ability to determine, by analysis and examination, the nature of a particular condition. A manager can diagnose a problem in the organization by studying its symptoms. These skills are also useful in favourable situations.

 * Political skills. Political skill is the ability to acquire the power necessary to reach objectives and to prevent others from taking power. Political skill can be used for the good of the organization and for self-interest.

The extent to which managers need different kinds of skills moves from lower management to upper management. Most low-level managers use technical skills extensively. At higher levels technical skills become less important while the need for conceptual skills grows. However, human skills are very important to all managers.