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Leadership Skills

Recent studies have shown that industrial supervisors are working at less than 60% of their potential. Basic management skills training is guaranteed to change all this and at such little cost. Introduction

There is no doubt that the single most important aspect of a manager's job is the management of people. Of course, a supervisor must manage resources other than people. However, none of the other resources compare in importance to PEOPLE. The challenge to manage people effective is unquestionably the greatest of all the challenges that face all managers.

The problem with people

It is estimated that there are over 6 billion human beings presently living on our planet and there are not two of us who are exactly alike. In other words every one us is unique. One of the greatest mysteries has been, and still is, to fully understand how we work. It has obsessed scientists and the great thinkers since the beginning of mankind. Our progress has been minimal and maybe we will never know. A simplistic way for us to understand this complex issue is to consider a human like an onion with many layers. For example:

1. Hereditary traits

These are our genetic strings (DNA) that are passed down from generation to generation.

2. Personal values

These are created when we are children and are heavily influenced by our parents, etc.

3. Attitudes and beliefs

These are influenced by your personal values. It is what you think about things, situations and people. For example, you may enjoy romantic music but dislike noisy people.

4. Feelings

Feelings follow attitudes and beliefs. For example, you feel good when you hear romantic music.

5. Behavior

This is directly related to your feelings. For example, romantic music makes you smile, and people shouting makes you react angrily. One of the important challenges for the great thinkers has been to determine to what extent can the features of each layer be changed or manipulated. This single study area has proved to be minefield of differing views that has resulted in enough books to fill many warehouses.

For our purposes, we will assume that once someone has reached working age then he has unchangeable values, attitudes and feelings. In consequence, the only layer that we can work with as a manager is the final layer 'our BEHAVIOR.

However, it is important to understand how behavior has been influenced by the other inner layers.

Now that scientists have defined human DNA it is possible that future mankind can develop the perfect manager and then clone millions. However, in the meantime you will need this training manual!

The final factor in our simple equation is EMOTION, which has a profound effect on our behavior. It stimulates our love and caring behavior but also invokes violence and cruelty.

Statistic analysis

A lot of work was done in the 1960's to evaluate what really motivated workers. The responses of thousands of workers were tabulated and ranked in order of motivational influence. Not only did these studies solidly support the basic theory but an unexpected phenomenon appeared.

Although the relative rankings were consistent, there was always large gap between the top six factors and all the others.

These statistics are quite remarkable and have never been seriously contested. However, it is very important to realize that the above list is not based on importance because the low scorers are high potential de-motivators if not at acceptable levels.

Another important factor is that many of the early studies and the resulting statistics concentrated on what made people feel good and maintained morale. This has now become more objective with more emphasis on what motivates people to be more productive.

What is leadership?

It is a natural requirement of human beings, like most other animal groups, to have leaders. There are many excellent wildlife films that show the dramatic and tragic process of leadership challenges in the animal kingdom.

In caveman days we probably did much the same. Although the group was not directly involved in these struggles they obviously supported the outcome. When mankind developed from being hunters to being predominantly farmers the leader role became more sophisticated and different qualities were required.

The Holy Grail of management Throughout the history of management science there has been an unrelenting quest to find the holy grail of management success 'a one best leadership style. As a result several main theories have emerged: trait theory, behavior theory, X-Y-Z theory and contingency theory. The toolbox style

I like to imagine all the theories like a toolbox where some jobs need a delicate instrument but others a heavy hammer. The choice is dictated by the job you have to do and your knowledge and skill. The tools that you have and choose and the way that you use them will determine the success of the work, and management is exactly the same. Let's look at the toolbox that you could have available if you choose to put them together and learn to use them.

About the author:

Chris Thomas is the author of the Managers Toolbox training material located at http://www.managers-toolbo and runs the very successful Basic Management Course for new leaders and supervisors.


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