Anyone can be a leader, but it takes certain abilities to actually be a good leader. Some people may be fortunate enough to express many of these qualities naturally, but others need to learn and practice the right types of managerial skills to actually be an effective leader. While it's possible to come up with hundreds of skills that define a great leader, the great thing is that they can almost all be categorized into four groups and if you can master these four general management skills, you will become a better leader.
The four most important type of managerial skills are technical skills, administrative skills, human skills and citizenship behaviors.
Four General Management Skills
Steve Scullen, a professor at Drake University, and his colleagues gathered together to analyze and discuss the managerial skills needed at the different levels of management, and what they found was that these skills all fell into one of four groups: technical skills, administrative skills, human skills and citizenship behaviors.
While some people question the importance of these managerial skills, a study by the Center for Creative Leadership showed that leaders who demonstrate all four of these skills are continually perceived as more effective leaders than leaders who do not. The study also discovered that administrative and human skills are more important to someone's perceived effectiveness than technical skills and citizenship behaviors. In addition, they found that while all four skills are equally important to mid-level leaders, administrative and citizenship behaviors are more important to upper-level executives.
Explaining the Four Skills
Technical skills are those related to the specific team, industry and workplace the manager is supervising. This includes mastering the jargon, operating rules, technical knowledge of the work being completed and the ability to master new job-related skills quickly. Administrative skills are those used to actually manage the team, including areas like planning, organizing, delegating, decision-making, staffing and coordinating the department.
Human skills are what enable a leader to work effectively with her team, including keeping a cool head, maintaining good relationships, showing interest in employees' needs, investing in others, mentoring, inspiring her team, gaining trust, resolving conflicts and making people feel included in the team. Citizenship skills are those that go above and beyond the actual job description, but are still beneficial to the team and the company. Examples of citizenship behaviors include helping team members with problems outside of work, volunteering to take on new responsibilities, being loyal to the company and displaying enthusiasm for hard work.
Alternative Leadership Skill Theories
While Steve Scullen and his team developed the theory of four general managerial skills, psychologist Robert Katz has a competing (and more popular) theory that there are three basic managerial skills: technical, conceptual and human/interpersonal skills.
While technical and human skills are largely the same under both theories, conceptual skills are closest to, but still different from, administrative skills and there is no skill set similar to citizenship behaviors under the Katz theory. Conceptual skills involve knowledge, abstract thinking and the ability to formulate ideas. This involves visualizing concepts, analyzing problems and finding creative solutions. Administrative skills from the Scullen theory that don't fit under the "conceptual skills" banner would instead fall into the technical or human categories depending on their specific nature.
Under the Katz theory, the three skill sets are of equal importance to middle management, but as you go higher in the management chain, conceptual skills gain greater importance and technical skills lose importance.