Q: Critically discuss why management and leadership development programs place more importance on rational and technical capabilities than emotional ones.
Leadership has been defined as “the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of a vision or set of goals”, and managers as “people who achieve goals through other people” (Robbins et al 2008, 695). With these definitions in mind, it would seem that appropriate training for leaders and managers would be highly people oriented; developing emotional intelligence skills, communication skills and appreciating the role of human emotion within the workplace. However, the focus of such programs has been, and still is to a large extent, on technical skills and rational thinking. Many factors contribute to this disparate focus; the historical and cultural context in which such programs are developed and taught, the assumptions and beliefs on how work directions translate into a good or service, the way universities are structured and even the types of students attending management and leadership programs.
Until relatively recently, people were assumed to be “rational creatures” (Ripley 2009, 31). This assumption meant that organisations and educators of leaders/managers were oblivious to the role of emotion in the workplace (Kimura and Yoshimori 1989, 22). The utilization of rigid structures, explicit rules and procedures, designed to control and limit employee behaviour (Napoli, Whiteley and Johansen 2005, 35) illustrate the reliance of business thinkers upon employee’s rational behaviour. Rules plus rational behaviour were thought to produce a predictable and stable labour force, which allowed management to consider employed labour as a steadfast factor of the production process. Given the correct rules and procedures, it was thought that employees would fall into line, and hence management and leaders could focus on the technical and rational aspects of the... [continues]
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