Some leadership theories emphasize innate traits leaders have that cannot be learned, while others suggest that focusing outward on tasks and goals is the way to lead. Skills-based leadership theory is predicated on the idea that there are skills anyone can learn that can enhance their leadership abilities. This conviction that leadership can be learned is the foundation for the plethora of leadership training classes that exist, according to the website Management Help.

Technical Skills

Leadership skills-based theory suggests that an effective leader is proficient in the essential tasks necessary to a company's main line of business. The leader understands how processes work in the company and can advise individuals and departments on how to solve specific problems. Employees tend to look up to a technically-proficient leader because they know that person understands their jobs.

Conceptual Skills

Skills-based leadership theory indicates that conceptual skills are essential to being an effective leader. This category of skills includes working with ideas and concepts, strategizing, planning, visualizing, and setting goals. Courses in effective planning directly address the fact that managers-in-training can learn to improve their conceptual skills to make themselves more effective. Goal-setting seminars and training sessions also enhance conceptual skills for leaders.

Human Skills

Human skills that can be learned include the ability to empathize, the willingness to listen to conflicting points of view, and expertise at resolving seemingly incompatible perspectives. While there are certainly people who seem to have strong instincts when it comes to these skills, skills-based leadership theory maintains that leaders can learn them. This category extends to the ability to motivate employees and keep them focused on the company's vision.


Even after mastering leadership skills, an effective leader must balance the use of them. For example, focusing too much on technical skills at the expense of human skills can alienate the workforce, even while making them more efficient. Similarly, a heavy focus on planning without taking into account the technical requirements of executing a plan can condemn a strategy to failure. An effective leader chooses among the skill sets in a balanced manner to maintain company proficiency. The website suggests that as a leader moves from supervisor to manager to executive, the blend of necessary skills changes. For example, an executive typically doesn't need as much technical skills as a supervisor.