Blog — Leadership Development

Building a Leader’s Skill Set: Why Technical Skills Alone Are Not Enough

Matthew Moore
Matthew Moore
Marketing and Digital Production Manager
Building a Leader’s Skill Set: Why Technical Skills Alone Are Not Enough
The skills that a leader requires can be quite different from the technical skills that got them into a leadership position in the first place. However, organisations rarely promote based on excellence in those softer skills..

In professional sport, ex-players are regularly given prime managerial posts seemingly based purely on the fact that they were good players. Nostalgia and romanticism often blind the powers that be when appointments need to be made, and these apprentices are thrust in to managerial positions much quicker than they should, clouded by their own ambition.

In most cases, this leads to well documented struggles such as dealing with pressure, motivating a group and handling the media. Examples include Gary Neville, recently sacked from his first managerial role after a mere 119 days; former England rugby captain Martin Johnson, who won the 2003 World Cup as a player [NB: it may not be advisable to click that link if you’re an Aussie] but presided over a desperate failure as a manager in 2011; and North American sporting legends Wayne Gretsky and Magic Johnson, both of whom failed in managerial roles in their respective sports.

Organisations often make the same mistake: promoting individuals based on technical skills, without taking into account managerial capability or potential. Someone who is technically competent may not be a good leader. Both businesses and individuals need to recognise the different skill sets they require before moving into a managerial role.

Ambitious people should understand that taking time out of the spotlight to develop new skills is not a sign of weakness. Upon Gianluca Vialli’s appointment as the Chelsea Manager in 1998, Fabio Capello commented that the appointment “was like driving a Formula One car without a licence.” Why take an unnecessary jump before you have trained and updated your skill set to perform to the level you expect of yourself, and of the offered position?

Organisations should look to creating a sustainable Leadership Pipeline. It was Charan, Drotter and Noel (2001) who defined the Leadership Pipeline’s processes and procedures to help organisations grow leaders internally at every level, rising from entry level up to senior managers.

Adhering to the Pipeline can generate the leadership infrastructure required to help organisations develop and keep hold of their top talent. In layman’s terms, the model allows potential leaders to train themselves within their organisation, before taking the next step up the leadership ladder at the right time.

Obviously there are exceptions to this portrayed view, and there are common examples of leaders with great technical skills flourishing within modern day business and sporting organisations. It is just as important to teach leadership skills as it is technical, and organisations who do promote based on technical skills need to put in place an effective training programme to ensure their managers have the right skills to succeed in the future.

Related articles

The 5 Key Elements of Workplace Wellness

7 mins

blog, management-skills

The 5 Key Elements of Workplace Wellness

What do you picture when you think of the individual words in turn? Where is the ‘workplace’ going to be for many… and what do we mean by ‘wellness’ – or it’s alter ego ‘wellbeing’? And will it be different again before too long? Let’s consider it for a moment.

Read More
The New Leaders: why greater trust means leaders must change their mindset

3 mins

blog, leadership-development

The New Leaders: why greater trust means leaders must change their mindset

Post-panedemic, trust is more important now - and prevalent - than ever. And that means leaders must re-evaluate their skillset...

Read More
The Heart of Performance: Why Relationships Are Key to Leading in a Crisis

5 mins

blog, covid-19-crisis, leadership-development

The Heart of Performance: Why Relationships Are Key to Leading in a Crisis

Some may view the subject as toughy-feely or just a HR term, but Relationships are crucial to effectiveness and performance - and particualrly now in our post-pandemic world.

Read More
  • IDG UK

    Royal Berkshire Hotel
    London Road
    Ascot
    SL5 0PP
    UK
    +44 (0) 207 798 2848

  • IDG India

    Tower 2, Montreal Business Center
    Baner Road
    Pune
    411045
    India
    +91 955 271 5800

  • IDG Oman

    PO Box 1982, P.C. 111
    Maktabi 1 Building,
    Al Khuwair
    Muscat
    The Sultanate of Oman
    +968 2439 1942

  • IDG UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait & Iraq

    5th Floor
    One JLT
    Dubai
    UAE
    +971 56896 4262
    +971 50550 8482

  • IDG South Africa

    Teneo House
    Central Park
    Esplanade Road
    Century City,
    Cape Town, ZA
    +27 (0) 21 492 7300

Get in touch

There are many ways to contact us. Select an option below to get started.