Leadership Skills Foster

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Current trends in developing leadership skills

How Construction Develops Its Leaders?


Leadership has traditionally been seen as a distinctly interpersonal phenomenon demonstrated in the interactions between leaders and subordinates. The theory of leadership presented in this article proposes that effective leadership behaviour fundamentally depends upon the leader's ability to solve the kinds of complex social problems that arise in organizations. The skills that make this type of complex social problem solving possible are discussed. What are the general skills or characteristics of a team leader? This essay will have views for and against for team leading and the individual skills into construction views on leadership. (Revans 1980)

The nature of a leader extinguishes the divine ability of everything the human race depends upon and that is leadership. Rick Foster (a member of the WK Kellogg Foundation) suggests future leadership development activities and programs must evolve from context by raising the question for leadership needed. According to Foster there are many approaches to the development of leaders simply because of the diverse conditions that a member of society may be socialised in. And each approach must be carefully considered so it has an intended impact. (Foster 2000)

Foster also states leadership development activities should be established within the cultural, historical and social context and needs of the society it serves. Foster uses the example of America and how leadership skills among youth are encouraged by the government by a numerous of different ways such as extra curricular programs and mentoring and this can be done at an early age such as boy/girl scouts. Foster raises a point within the article in which he outlines the basis for the development of leaders should only be taught to primary audiences such as college age adults rather than youth in poor communities because he states the youths as being non profitable to be taught the knowledge of effective leadership. (Foster 2000)

Foster constitutes leadership development as that it should reflect a clear perspective and philosophy of leadership in which a clear set of expected outcomes and means of evaluation and a vision for sustaining development efforts over time. Foster has relevance in his views on leadership relevant to the construction industry approach to management on group collaboration in which on a construction project, the contractors and the design collaborate together when the design and build model is used.

(Foster 2000)

According to David Day's Article, entitled Leadership development, Leadership has been traditionally conceptualized as an individual-level skill. A good example of this is found in transformational leadership theory, which proposes that transformational leaders engage in behaviours related to the dimensions of Charisma, Intellectual Stimulation, and Individualized Consideration (Bass, 1985). This agrees with Fosters principle of mentoring basically anyone in leadership development. Days argument on leadership development seems to show that a certain skill is required from a worker in which he describes above for them to develop in to strong leaders. This argument is based from mental behaviour perspective. (Day 2001)

The primary emphasis in leadership development is on building and using interpersonal competence. Gardner (1993) defines interpersonal intelligence in terms of the ability to understand people. In other words a basic concern in building trust, respect, and ultimately commitments Key components of interpersonal competence include social awareness (e.g., empathy, service orientation, and developing others) and social skills (e.g., collaboration and cooperation, building bonds, and conflict management) (McCauley, 2000). The emphasis is on the social nature of this competence, and the idea that effective development best occurs in an interpersonal (i.e., social) context. The notion of leadership development offered in the present review focuses on the interaction between an individual and the social and organizational environment (Fiedler, 1996).

As such, it is a more complex endeavour than one concerned solely with individual leader development. Although there is still a need to develop a sound foundation of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, it is proposed that the most value resides in combining what is considered the traditional, individualistic approach to leader development with a more shared and relational approach. (Jacobs 1987)

Another way to conceptualize the distinction is that leader development can be interpreted as a form of individual-based differentiation in terms of helping individuals enhance a unique self-understanding and construct independent identities. Leadership development can be thought of as an integration strategy by helping people understand how to relate to others, coordinate their efforts, build commitments, and develop extended social networks by applying self-understanding to social and organizational imperatives. (Hall & Seibert, 1992; McCauley et al., 1998)

An overall approach to leadership development as a type of organizational development strategy requires a purposeful transformation toward higher levels of both leadership integration and differentiation. This is an example of a move toward what has been termed “organized complexity” (Gharajedaghi, 1999).

The profound changes shaping the competitive construction environment are also affecting how organizations prepare people for present and future challenges. One emphasis has been on investing more intensely in leader and leadership development across all organization levels, and to develop leadership capacity in all employees and across all organizational systems. Appendix A gives a better insight into the diversity of leadership skills and why any leader cannot posses all the subjective skills of a leader. (Hall & Seibert, 1992)

Scholarly researchers potentially have much to contribute to the understanding and improvement of leadership development in organizations. In particular, researchers can help enhance the purposefulness of leadership development by examining how various practices and processes, alone and in combination, contribute to better leadership. (Gharajedaghi, 1999)

According to Conger one of the biggest challenges facing organizations is reversing a tendency that allows leadership development to become a “haphazard process” which results from embedding development in the ongoing work of an organization without sufficient notice to intentionality, accountability, and evaluation. This slows the leadership development rate with in any company which can sometimes make companies employ emergency staff who may not have the competent managerial skills required for the job. This can never be the case for the construction contractors because the client can tender the job to a rival firm. (Conger 1993)

In relation to this Collins (effectiveness in managerial development) puts leadership development in this categories Knowledge Subjective in which Principles, facts, attitudes, and skills learned during or by the end of training as communicated in statements of opinion, belief, or judgment completed by the participant or trainer.

(Collins 2004)

Also Knowledge Objectives are to be taught with Principles, facts, attitudes and skills learned during or by the end of training by objective means, such as number of errors made or number of solutions reached, or by standardized tests on. (Collins 2004)

This will then allow Behaviour and Expertise subjective which measures and evaluates changes in on-the job behaviour perceived by participants, or global perceptions by peers or a supervisor. Collins (2004) furthermore concludes by categorising the remaining topics Providing Behaviour and Expertise and System Results/Performance and concludes that the there is a difference between leader development and leadership development. Appendix A shows the difference between these and Collins argues that leadership can be taught whereas a being a leader is more than a skill, it's who you are.

These observations about the nature of leaders' Attributes efforts are of some interest in their own right. With respect to understanding effective leadership in organizational settings, however, the nature of the problems at hand and their associated performance demands have another noteworthy set of implications. Specifically, they provide us with some important clues about the kinds of knowledge and skills likely to underlie effective performance in organizational settings. (Mumford 2000)

Figure 1 presents an overview of the key kinds of capabilities, knowledge and skills brought to bear in leaders' problem-solving efforts. This model posits that leaders begin to address complex organizational issues by defining the problem and formulating a solution framework or set of ideas that might be used to understand the problem and develop initial solution strategies. In this phase, leaders, sometimes with the help of others, focus primarily on the problem, its significance, origins, and potential solutions. Although the focus at this point is on the problem, it is important to recognize that experience, knowledge of the job, and the nature of the organizational environment and the leader's understanding of it shapes the way leaders represent the problem, the kinds of information they look for, and the type of concepts being applied (Mumford, Whetzel, & Reiter-Palmon, 1997).

Intelligence, or general cognitive ability, is perhaps the individual characteristic that has most often and consistently been associated with leadership. Stogdill (1974) reported 23 studies that found leaders to be brighter than followers; only five studies showed no difference. In a second review, covering research between 1948 and 1970, 25 studies indicated a positive correlation between intelligence and leadership (Brass, 1999).

Intelligence, however, is not the only ability that might influence the acquisition of requisite skills and subsequent leader performance. Leaders also need crystallized cognitive abilities including written and oral expression, and written and oral comprehension to acquire, exchange, and manipulate information in most, if not all, problem domains. Moreover, some fluid abilities, such as fluency and speed of closure, may also be relevant to leader performance, given the need for leaders to solve novel, ill-defined problems. Divergent thinking ability may also be a necessary precursor to effectively defining and solving these types of problems. (Bass, 1990 and Fleishman & Friedman, 1990)

Intelligence and other abilities are not the only differential characteristics that might influence the acquisition of requisite leadership skills. Skills development also requires a willingness to enter situations where these skills can be exercised, as well as a willingness to exercise these skills in solving significant organizational problems.

As a result, one might expect that certain motivational and personality characteristics also influence both leader performance and the development of requisite capabilities. With regard to motivation, three characteristics seem essential to effective leadership. First, leaders must be willing to tackle difficult, challenging organizational problems using these problems as a vehicle for growth (Howard & Bray, 1988).

Accordingly, achievement and mastery motives, or the motivation to extend one's performance capabilities (Dweck, 1986) can be expected to be related to both skills acquisition and subsequent performance. Second, leaders must be willing to exercise influence. Dominance, as a result, can be expected to influence performance, attracting individuals to situations where those skills can be exercised, motivating effort in those situations. In fact, House, Woycke, and Foder (1988) and Lord, DeVader, and Alliger (1986) have shown that measures of dominance or power motives are consistently related to leadership.

Dominance and power motives, however, may not necessarily be desirable unless coupled with a third motive and social commitment (House & Howell, 1992). This point is illustrated in a recent study by O'Connor, Mumford, Clifton, Gessner, and Connelly (1995) who found that a lack of social commitment, as evidenced in negative life themes, resulted in leaders who had disastrous effects on society's long-term best interests. Appendix C shows that experience can affect overall performance which all leaders which need to be developed will need to succeed.


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