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Monday, February 18, 2013

Leadership Skills as Defined through Service Management Education



Leadership has become a more important focal point of conversations. Understanding the factors of leadership within a transforming educational environment can help college faculty and administrators better understand those skills and abilities which foster appropriate change. Leadership skill has been tested within the hospitality academic fields to better understand the perceptual differences between those who run a college and those who work within it.

Leadership can be seen as a combination of personality traits, abilities and gifts (Kenny & Zaccaro, 1983). People are born with certain leadership abilities that develop over time through effort and willpower. However, this does not take into consideration the multiple factors of development that can occur through different social situations and how these social situations foster leadership.

Leadership can also be seen as derived from the result of individual behaviors within a social context (Blake & Mouton, 1978). Under such social circumstances, skillfulness is demonstrated by effective action (Katz, 1955). Through pressing times, people with leadership skills may employ those skills to achieve a defined objective; even when such skills were not exhibited before.

Even though leadership can be associated with, the way people think they are only precursors to what may actually happen under the right circumstances. Behavioral-based theories measure leadership by what actually was exhibited in certain pressing circumstances (Northouse, 2007). What is done may vary be the way people think but only through “trial by fire” do meaningless words turn into effective action that come to define the true leader.

Effective leaders have a few traits that help separate them from others. High performing leaders tend to focus on interpersonal skills (Boyatzis, 1982) and problem-solving or decision-making abilities (Connelly, et. al., 2000). To put together the right solutions for the varying problems at hand leadership is derived from the following three factors (Mumford, et. al., 2000):

1.) Creative problem-solving skills
2.) Social judgment skills
3.) Knowledge

Under such circumstances, leaders can find solutions to problems, able to judge their social environment and use their prior knowledge to make proper decisions. Social judgment can be seen as the ability to perspective take,  perceptive in social situations, have behavioral flexibility, and create social performance (Mumford, et. al, 2000). In order to judge difficult situations and find solutions to ill-defined problems leaders need to quickly use information about tasks and the people they work with to create effective solutions (Mumford, et. al., 2000).

This quick witted and social grace allows leaders to create higher levels of performance when the timing is right. Such leaders quickly scan their environment to understand the factors, put together their prior knowledge to find solutions, and use their social skills to influence others. With these three factors, they are able to overcome problems that others may have a hard time fathoming.

A study conducted by Kalargyrou, Pescosolido, & Kalargiros in 2012 helps to determine the perceived skills of leaders within the hospitality management education programs at the college level. The study used 236 professors and administrators from baccalaureate and graduate problems that were registered with the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (I-CHRIE).

The results of the survey indicate that faculty and administrators ranked business skills as the most important set of leadership qualities. This was followed by cognitive, interpersonal abilities and strategic decision-making abilities. To both faculty and administrators it is important for leaders to develop their business skills and use them in both personal and social ways to solve complex problems

Each of the concepts are defined as follows:

1.) Business skills: Management skills, management of personnel, financial management, and management of material resources.
2.) Financial Skills: Management of material resources that includes fundraising, budgeting, accounting, technology, sales, curriculum, and marketing.
3.) Cognitive Skills: Effective communication and the ability to adapt to changing environments.
4.) Interpersonal Skills: The ability to create positive public relations, empathy, respect hospitality, forgiveness, trustworthiness, and caring.
5.) Personal Values: The ability to act both ethically and fairly with people.


Boyatzis, R. E. (1982). The competent manager: A model for effective performance. New York:Wiley & Sons.

Blake, R. & Mouton, S. (1978). The new managerial grid. Houston, TX: Gulf.

Connelly, M., Gilbert, J., Zaccaro, S. , Threlfall, K., Marks, M. , & Mumford, M., (2000). Exploring
the relationship of leader skills and knowledge to leader performance. Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 65–86.

Kalargyrou, V.  Pescosolido, A. & Kalargiros, E (2012).  Leadership skills in management education. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal,  16, ( 4).

Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33-42.

Kenny, D. & Zaccaro, S. (1983). An estimate of variance due to traits in leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 68, 678-685.

Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J., Connelly, M. S., & Marks, M. A. (2000). Leadership skills: Conclusions and future directions. Leadership Quarterly, 11(1), 155-170.

Northouse, P. (2007). Leadership theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.




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