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Robert Katz: Skills of an Effective Administrator

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Robert Katz: Skills of an Effective Administrator

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Katz, Robert L. “Skills of an Effective Administrator,” Harvard Business Review: 1955. Retrieved from: McMahon, Timothy, J. Leaderships Classics. pp. 22-35.

Robert Katz identifies the selection and training of good administration as one of American industry’s most pressing problems. Katz tells us that at the root of the problem is the industry’s search for the traits and qualities that will identify the “ideal executive.” In spending so much time looking at personality and one’s value set, companies are in danger of losing sight of what should be their main concern - what a man can accomplish. We believe that this is definitely still a relevant concern today as well. We see business executives with loads of personality and great people skills, but little to offer the companies in terms of quantifiable work. Even on the basic managerial level, each of us has worked for someone who was very polite and honest and trustworthy, but they were useless when it came to doing their job. We all agree that there must be a better way to select leadership and administration than simply picking out their most attractive qualities. What makes up a great executive has long been speculated and disputed, but here we see a more practical and useful approach to the selection and development of administrators. What is described for us here is the Three-Skill Approach. This approach is based on the idea that what someone is innately born with is not nearly as important as what they can do, or what skills they possess. Each of the three skills (technical, human, and conceptual) can be developed in any person and are all directly related to improving the workplace environment. Katz tells us that this approach grew out of firsthand observation of executives in the workplace as well as the study of current field research in administration. An administrator, as defined here, is someone who directs the activities of other persons and undertakes the responsibility for achieving certain...

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