Leadership Competencies - What are they?

Six key leadership competencies, defined by Deming and Scholtes, the famous management and quality gurus, is of particular interest to those who want to follow a business intelligence approach as it has a good emphasis on data and facts.

  • The ability to think in terms of systems and how to lead systems. This involves looking at the system as whole to understand the interactions between components of the system. This type of thinking avoids simplistic solutions to complex problems. Many problems stem from poor communication across the interfaces between components of a system.

  • The ability to understand variability of work in planning and problem solving. All output of a system varies - defects, errors, mistakes, accidents, waste, scrap. When a manager fails to understand variation he sees trends when there are no trends. Further he fails to spot real trends! He wrongly gives credit to an individual or team and does not understand that past performance is not able to predict future performance.

    There are two types of variation - common cause variation which is built into the system and special cause variation when a rare or unique event or change occurs. Managers often wrongly react to common cause variation and don't react to special cause variation. Managers needs to understand basic statistics.

  • Understanding how we learn, develop, and improve and how to lead this process. Managers develop theories but often these are wrong. They need to be tried and tested. Deming taught the PDSA improvement cycle which he learned from his mentor - Walter Shewhart. The P stands for Plan which holds the management belief or theory. The D stands for Do - the the plan is executed. S stands for Study - the outcomes are monitored and lessons learned. A is Act- the theory is reformulated based on the study outcomes.

    The leader must also recognise that people learn in different ways: visual - learn by watching, reading and writing, auditory learn first through hearing and conversation, and lastly kinesthetic - learning by doing.

  • Understanding people and why they behave the way they do is another one of the key leadership competencies.

    If a manager wants to know why people do what they do, a good starting point is for the manager to examine his or her own expectations. For example, people can't be trusted? People don't want to work and want to learn. People withhold their best efforts and need to be induced. If the manager belived this he would be following theory X (carrot and stick approach)from Douglas McGregor's 'The Human Side of Enterprise'

    Theory Y on the other hand believes in people and trusts them.

    How can Managers motivate people - they can't. They have build relationship and trust with their staff

  • Understanding the interaction and interdendence between the above factors
  • The ability to give meaning and focus to the organisation

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