Thursday, February 26, 2015

Metacognition: thinking about one's thinking

Metacognition refers to critical analysis of thought or purposeful thoughtfulness. Metacognition refers to the knowledge, awareness and control of one’s own thinking and learning. During Metacognition, one can examine one’s own brain’s processing.  Metacognition is a form of cognition, a higher order thinking process or a supervisory or metalevel system which involves active control over cognitive processes. It can be simply described as thinking about thinking or knowing about knowing or cognition about cognition. Metacognition serves many diverse functions. Metacognition plays an important role in communication, reading comprehension, language acquisition, social cognition, attention, self-control, memory, self-instruction, writing, problem solving and personality development (Cooper 1999). Learning is facilitated through the use of metacognitive strategies that identify, monitor and regulate cognitive processes.

Metacognition-meaning and definition

John Flavell, a psychologist of Stanford University is regarded as a foundation researcher in metacognition.  Metacognition was first coined by Flavell In the mid 1970s. The term Metacognition as used by Flavell (1979) refers to an individual’s awareness of his/her cognitive processes and strategies. The word “Metacognition” combines the prefix “meta” (derived from Greek meaning after, behind, or beyond) with cognition which refers to the process of knowing (derived from a Latin verb meaning “to learn or to know). Metacognition is described as the ability to monitor, regulate and select strategies in doing a task. The strategies can include any methods, thoughts, beliefs, practices, tricks, behaviours or moods that are specifically cultivated to improve one’s ability to learn.

Metacognition is important because it affects acquisition, comprehension, retention and application of what is learned. In addition it may affect critical thinking, problem –solving and decision making.  Metacognition include both knowledge and strategy components. Cognitive and metacognitive strategies are closely intertwined and dependent upon each other. Metacognition involves information processing activities. Metacognition refers to thinking that enables the understanding, analysis and regulation of thought processes. Metacognition is defined as thinking about one’s thoughts (Harris and Hodges 1995). The National Research Council (2001) defines Metacognition as “the process of reflecting on and directing one’s own thinking.”

Metacognitive components

Metacognition consists of two complementary elements such as metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive regulation (Flavell 1979).
Metacognitive knowledge – awareness of one’s thinking – refers to what the learner knows and understands about the task in hand.
Metacognitive regulation – the ability to manage one’s own thinking processes –refers to the strategies the learner uses to complete the task.
Flavell (1979) describes three kinds of metacognitive knowledge.
1.Awareness of knowledge –understanding what one knows, what one does not know and what one wants to know.
2. Awareness of thinking – understanding cognitive tasks and the nature of what is required to complete them.
3. Awareness of thinking strategies – understanding approaches to directing learning.
There are three kinds of content knowledge. Researches support the claim that skilled learners possess declarative, procedural and conditional knowledge about cognition. This knowledge usually improves learner’s performance.
1.Declarative knowledge – knowing ‘about’ things – knowledge of one’s own learning processes and about strategies.
2. Procedural knowledge – knowing ‘how’ to do things – knowing what skills and strategies to use and how to apply them.
3. Conditional knowledge – knowing ‘when’ and ‘why’ to apply different cognitive actions- knowledge about why and when various learning strategies should be used.
Metacognitive regulation refers to a set of activities help learners to control their learning. It includes three essential skills:
1. Planning – involves working out how a task might be approached before you do it.
2. Monitoring – refers to the learners on –task awareness of progress, comprehension and overall performance.
3. Evaluation – requires the learner to review the outcomes and efficiency of the learning experience e.g. revisiting goals and conclusions.

Metacognitive levels of thought

1.Tacit –thinking without thinking about it;
2. Aware –thinking and being aware that you are thinking;
3. Strategic – organizing our thinking by using strategies that enhance its efficacy; and
4. Reflective – reflecting on our thinking (pondering how to proceed and how to improve; Swartz and Perkins 1990).

Metacognition and learning

Metacognition allows learners to take charge of their own learning. It involves awareness of how they learn, an evaluation of their learning needs, generating strategies to meet these needs and then implementing the strategies (Hacker 2009). Metacognitive strategies in learning include planning for learning, thinking about the learning process as it taking place, monitoring of one’s comprehension and evaluating the learning outcomes. Monitoring and reflecting on the process and products of one’s own learning is crucial to successful learning as well as to learning how to learn. Metacognitive knowledge is crucial for efficient independent learning because it fosters forethought and self- reflection. John Dewey often considered the father of progressive education, viewed reflection as a central part of active learning. Metacognitive skills are essential for lifelong learning. Metacognition helps the learners to understand how they learn, their strengths and their needs and better understand the learning process. Palinscar and Brown suggested four concrete teachable metacognitive learning activities: summarizing, questioning, clarifying and predicting.  Ann Brown and her colleagues (1983) describe three ways we direct our own learning:
Planning approaches to tasks –identifying the problem, choosing strategies, organizing our thoughts and predicting outcomes.
Monitoring activities during learning – testing, revising and evaluating the effectiveness of our strategies and
Checking outcomes – evaluating the outcomes against specific criteria of efficiency and effectiveness.

Metacognition and reading

Metacognition plays an important role in reading comprehension. Metacognitively skilled readers are readers who are aware of knowledge, procedures and controls of the reading process. They use this knowledge during the reading process to improve reading and comprehension ability. Reading comprehension refers to the ability of readers to understand the surface and the hidden meanings of the text using metacognitive strategies.  The reading strategies include metacognitive components such as inferring, self-questioning, monitoring, ‘fixing’ and summarizing. Reading for meaning involves the metacognitive activity of comprehension monitoring and reading for remembering includes identifying important ideas, testing one’s mastery of material, developing effective study strategies and allocating study time appropriately.

Metacognition and listening

Metacognition has a lot to offer to listening comprehension.   Metacognitive strategies for listening include analysing requirements of a listening task, activating appropriate listening process required, making appropriate predictions, monitoring their comprehension and evaluating the success of their listening approach (Vandergrift 1997).

Metacognition and problem –solving

 Research has shown that one of the key traits good problem solvers possess is highly developed metacognitive skills and are generally self-aware thinkers. Davidson, Deuser and Sternberg (1994) identified four metacognitive processes that may be applicable in solving problems: identifying and defining a problem, mentally representing the problem, planning how to proceed and evaluating what you know about your performance.  Some of the metacognitive processes involved in problem solving situations include self-planning, self-monitoring, self-regulating, self-reflecting and/or self-reviewing.  Learners with superior metacognitive abilities are better problem – solvers.

Benefits of metacognition

Metacognition is important for the development of critical thinking and effective learning (Larkin2000). Metacognition once learned, supports reflective thinking, helps problem solving, gives responsibility and improves self-confidence for quicker decisions for the rest of one’s life (Kuiper 2002). Metacognition plays a pivotal role in oral comprehension, reading comprehension, problem solving, attention, memory, social cognition, certain types of self-control and self – instruction (Gama2000). Metacognition is closely intertwined with learning to learn, life-long learning, flexible learning, independent learning, and gaining responsibility for learning (Yurdakul 2004). Metacognition is important in project work because learners must make decisions about what strategies to use and how to use them. Metacognitive skills have a positive influence on both problem solving (Schoenfeld 1987) and mathematical problem solving (Hacker 1998). Metacognition enable educators to teach students how to learn as well as what to learn. Metacognitive knowledge is critical in guiding the writing process. As noted by Strickland (1972) “The quality of what is expressed in writing depends upon the quality of thinking that undergirds it.”

Concluding thoughts

Metacognition enables a critical awareness of one’s thinking and learning and oneself as a thinker and learner. Metacognition is crucial to effective thinking and competent performance. Good metacognitive thinkers are also good intentional learners. The function of cognition is to solve problems. The function of Metacognition is to regulate a person’s cognitive operation in solving a problem or executing a task (Vos 2001). “To make an individual metacognitively aware is to ensure that the individual has learned how to learn” (Garner 1988).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Principles of effective leadership

Leadership is one of the most complex human behaviours. Leadership is a multidimensional process that is conceptualized as a trait, as an ability, as a skill, as behaviour, as a relationship and as a process (Northouse 2015, author: Introduction to Leadership). Effective leadership is a key factor in the survival and success of an organization. Leaders can make the difference between success and failure. A leader is a person who directs, organizes, administers, makes decisions, delegates possibilities and plans for future. Effective leadership needs skills, styles, character and the spirit of serving to be effective, efficient and productive. Leaders need to have a vision, communicate that vision with passion so followers are inspired. Successful leaders have a strong desire to lead and exercise power, exhibit honesty and integrity and are highly self-confident. The world’s most effective leaders –Gandhi, Mandela, Churchill, Lincoln, Thatcher, Mother Teresa etc. – display widely different personal qualities.

Leadership concept

Leadership can occur between the leader and another individual; between the leader and a group, or an organization or a community or a society. Leaders need followers in order to lead. Followers need leaders in order to follow. Leadership is a relational concept. Leadership exists in relation to others (followers). Leadership deals with people in relationships. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner said, ‘Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow.’ So leadership is composed of leaders, followers as well as situations. Leadership is a process of social influence (not power), which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal (Kruse 2013). Psychologist Bernard Bass (1990) reviewed 28 studies and found evidence that the desire for achievement is an important motivating factor among effective leaders.  Successful leaders are characterized as “electric, vigorous, active and full of life.” (Kouzes and Posner 1987). They are ‘tirelessly persistent’ in their activities – especially in communicating their vision to followers (Bass 1990).

Leadership definition

Leadership is commonly defined as a process of interaction in which the leader influences others toward goal achievement (Yukl 1998). Leadership occurs among people, involves the use of influence and is used to attain goals.  So leadership can also be defined as the ability to influence people towards the attainment of goals. Leadership is a ‘people activity.’ In order to lead, the leader must do something benefiting followers and the followers allow the leader to lead. Leadership is a transaction between leaders and followers.  Leadership is a process whereby an individual (a leader) influences a group of people to achieve a common goal.

Leadership factors

Leadership is composed of four primary factors such as leaders, followers, communication and situation.
Leader –leaders require traits, skills and knowledge. The leadership traits include intelligence, self-confidence, determination, integrity and sociability (Stodgill 1974).
Follower – The process of leadership involves the leader and the followers in interaction. Peter Drucker said, “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
Communication- Communication skills are the foundation for effective leadership.  Communication includes how the leader speaks, listens and learns. Many American presidents like John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln have made impact as great communicators.
Situation – the situation normally has a greater effect on a leader’s action than his/her traits. What a leader do in one situation will not always work in another.

Leadership theories

Trait theory – assumes that a leader is born with specific traits that made him/her a good leader. This theory assumes that the leader is different from the average person in terms of capacities, talents and personality.
Behavioural theory - assumes that anyone can learn to become a good leader because he is not drawing on personality traits.
Transformational theory – assumes that people will follow a leader who inspires and motivates them.
Transactional theory – assumes that people are motivated strictly by reward and punishment.

Leadership function

Leadership have three essential roles: they have to define the task, achieve the task and maintain effective relationships.
Planning – seeking all available information and defining the task; developing a workable plan.
Initiating – explaining people the aims and the plan;
Informing – clarifying the task and the plan; summarizing suggestions and ideas coherently;
Controlling – making sure that all resources and energies are properly harnessed;
Supporting –setting and maintaining organizational and team values and standards;
Motivating – gaining the goodwill and genuine commitment of the team and each member;
Evaluating –establishing and applying the success criteria appropriate to the field;
Setting an example – leading from the front while exemplifying the qualities and behaviours expected in the team.

 Leadership components

Character – the leader’s behaviour and personality;
Style –the way leader relates and does the job daily;
Skills – performance, which could be developed on the job;
Service – a leader is a servant first and then a boss. Leadership is relationship of service to people and purpose (Kouzes and Posner)

Leadership characteristics

The purpose of leadership is to change lives. The leader bears an almost sacred duty to create conditions that enable people to grow and have happy and productive lives (Senge 1990). Leadership is often thought of as more inspirational or guidance –oriented as well as informal. Leadership relies more on personality traits and people skills. Leadership is thinking creatively and innovatively; empowering others through focus on execution. A leader who is innovative and produces better results is respected and looked upon. In a research conducted in 2008 (McKinsey research), it was found that more than 70% of the senior executives believed that innovation was one of the drivers for organizational growth.

Leadership styles

Four distinct leadership styles are identified based on the relative presence (high-low) of task and relationship behaviour:
Telling – (high task-low relationship) –The leader makes the decision. The leader defines roles and tells followers what, how, when and where to do various tasks, emphasizing directive behaviour.
Selling – (high task – high relationship)- the leader makes the decision and then explains it to the followers. The leader provides both directive and supportive behaviours.
Participating – (low task-high relationship) – The leader and followers share decision making. The main role of the leader is to encourage and assist followers in contributing to sound decisions.
Delegating – (low task – low relationship) – The followers make the decision. The leader provides little direction or support.

Leadership qualities

Leadership behaviours are a function of intelligence, personality traits, emotional competence, values, attitudes, interests, knowledge and experience. Leadership qualities can be divided into two categories: traits and core values. Leadership traits represent WHO you are. They develop over time. Leadership core values represent HOW you are – the guiding principles for how everyone in an organization thinks and acts.
Vision – the sense of vision causes the leader to accept the duties of leadership and inspires others. Leadership is a strong sense of purpose. Warren Bennis said, “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Character – is a significant source of personal power. Character in leadership is pursuing noble ends with noble means with knowledge, skill and talent. The leader must have drive and determination to stick with difficult tasks until they are completed. Successful leaders remain calm and confident even during tense situations.
Personal integrity – It is the quality of honesty, strength of character and courage of leader. Integrity leads to trust and trust leads to respect, loyalty and ultimately action. Fuchan Yuan said, “There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage.”  Dwight Eisenhower also said, “The supreme quality of leadership is integrity.”
Charisma – Charisma is a Greek word that means ‘divinely inspired gift.’ Charisma means attractive or possessing a certain quality that raises enthusiasm or interest.  Leaders are talkative, good looking authoritative or energetic. The result is admiration, enthusiasm and the loyalty of followers.
Energy – To have energy is to have the physical and psychological ability to perform. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The world belongs to the energetic.”It is a better indicator of long-term leadership success than many traits.
Competence – competence in leadership is seen as a matter of task accomplishment and interpersonal relations. Task accomplishment involved traits like intelligence and knowledge. A leader must have a keen mind to understand information, formulate strategies and make correct decisions. Interpersonal competence involved the ability to communicate and to demonstrate caring, insight and empathy. A leader’s interpersonal skills are vitally important in the process of inspiring others toward implementing the vision. By counting attributes per category, leaders must have a ratio of about 60% interpersonal and 40% personality attributes.
 Flexibility – those who are adaptable are willing to use alternatives, substitutes and surrogates. Adaptability is a key component of flexibility as a positive leadership.  Adaptability allows the leader to adjust multiple demands, shifting priorities and rapid change. Adaptability helps the leader to be resilient in the face of constraints, frustrations and adversity.
Sociability – is ready and willing to engage others without anxiety or fear. The leader must be sincerely and deeply concerned about the welfare of people.

Leadership effectiveness

Leading groups effectively is a tremendous challenge, a great opportunity and serious responsibility. Leadership is mobilizing the interest, energy and commitment of all people at all levels. Bardwick (1996) clearly states that leadership is not intellectual or cognitive but emotional. Noted author Warren Bennis, who has spent over three decades studying leaders described leader as “one who manifests direction, integrity, hardiness and courage in a consistent manner that inspires trust, motivation and responsibility on the part of followers, who in turn become leaders themselves" (Johnson 1998). Effective leaders have more drive, honesty, leadership motivation, self-confidence, intelligence, knowledge, creativity and flexibility. Successful leaders accept responsibility and accountability for their actions and decisions. They have clear goals and communicate them to their followers.  Great leaders are and always have been of service to their followers first and then leaders into a new, better, more productive life. Effective leaders are both task-centred and people – centred. Current research indicates that emotional intelligence is crucial factor in leadership effectiveness. Emotionally intelligent leaders are equipped with the insight to see people’s pattern of emotions, the relationship between emotions and how emotional states change from one to another. Raymond Perras, the author of AiM for Life Mastery said, “If choose peak performance, you will learn to apply the right stuff, in the right amount, at the right time.”
                             “Great leaders inspire greatness in others” – Anon. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Skilled interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication (IPC) is central to our daily routines. It is essential to our survival and happiness. Communication is the exchange of thoughts, opinions or information using speech, signals or writing. Communication may serve a variety of purposes – for example to learn, to relate, to help, to influence or to play. We communicate to develop identities, establish and build relationships, coordinate efforts with others, have impact on issues that matter to us and work out problems and possibilities. Studies have shown that most people spend between 80 and 90 percent of their waking hours communicating with others. Experts tell us that 70-80 percent of our working time is spent in some kind of communication. Communicating inter-personally is a ‘way of life’ in organizations. Effective communication is an important element of success for every organization, leader, manager, supervisor and employee.John Powell said, “Communication works for those who work at it.”

Meaning of communication

The word communication comes from the Latin communicare, which means ‘to make common’ (Weekley 1967) or ‘to share’. The word interpersonal is derived from the prefix inter, meaning ‘between’ and the word person; Interpersonal communication (IPC) literally occurs between people. Interpersonal communication is an exchange of information between two or more people. Information is conveyed as words, tone of voice and body language. Studies have shown that words account for 7 percent of the information communicated. Vocal tone represents 55 percent and body language 38 percent.

Defining  interpersonal communication

Interpersonal communication (IPC) is defined as the process that we use to communicate our ideas, thoughts and feelings to another person (Wikipedia).
Interpersonal communication is the process by which people exchange information through verbal and non-verbal messages.

Elements of communication

The elements of communication include purpose (why a message is communicated), audience (who is listening to the message), vehicles (the means used to deliver the message), and barriers (outside forces that keep an audience from listening).
Purpose – know what the real purpose of the message (e.g. to persuade or inform);
Audience –know your audience and adapt your message to their particular needs;
Vehicle – choose the best medium (e.g. a report, personal conversation or presentation) for conveying your message;
Barriers –troubleshoot or present possible communication barriers.
All communication has both a purpose and audience. The purpose may be to describe a situation, explain a procedure or persuade someone. An audience is one or more readers or listeners. A communication vehicle is the medium through which something is transmitted, expressed or accomplished. There are many of them e.g. verbal, written and visual. There may be distractions and interruptions. 

Communication model

Effective communication begins with first understanding how the communication process works. The sender-message-channel-receiver model describes the communication process.  In 1949, Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver published the transmission model of communication. This model had five components:
  •  An information source, which produces a message;
  • A transmitter, which encodes the message into signals;
  • A channel to which signals are adapted for transmission;
  • A receiver, which decodes the message from the signal and
  • A destination, where the message arrives.

Characteristics of interpersonal communication (Hartley 1999)

  • Communication is from one person to another.
  • Communication is face-to-face. 
  • Both the form and the content of the communication reflect the personal characteristics of the individuals as well as their social roles and relationships.

Forms of interpersonal communication

Communication is more than just verbal. Verbal communication involves all aspects of language: words, style, grammar, content, pitch, volume, tone, pronunciation, pace, timing and the clarity and the use of voice. Non-verbal cues are very important in communication. Non – verbal communication is what we say with our body. It includes physical-facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, body posture and motions and positioning within groups. It may also include the way we dress, our silence and other mannerisms. Researchers have estimated that approximately 7 percent meaning is transmitted by words, 38 percent is transmitted by vocal cues and 55 percent is transmitted by body cues.

Principles of interpersonal communication

There are ten principles of interpersonal communication:
1. Interpersonal communication is inescapable-we cannot keep ourselves away from communication.
2. Interpersonal communication is irreversible – it is rightly said that a word uttered once cannot be taken back.
3. Interpersonal communication is contextual – communication does not take place in isolation. They are context specific.
4. Interpersonal communication involves ethical choices – ethics refers to a set of principles or rules for correct conduct. As you respect yourself and your ideas and feelings in ethical communication, you must honour those of others.
5. People construct meanings in interpersonal communication – meanings reside not in words alone, but rather in how we interpret them.
6. Meta-communication affects meanings –meta-communication is communication about communication. Metacommunication may be verbal or nonverbal. It can increase understanding.
7. Interpersonal communication develops and sustains relationships- IPC is the primary way we use communication to develop and sustain relationships.
8. Interpersonal communication is not a panacea – although communication is powerful and important, it is not a cure-all.
9. Interpersonal communication effectiveness can be learned – effectiveness in IPC can be learned through committed study and practice of principles and skills.
10. Interpersonal communication is complicated – no form of communication is simple due to the number of variables involved.

Importance of interpersonal communication

On a fundamental level, interpersonal communication plays an important role in fulfilling several basic human needs like the need to belong, the need for competence and the need for autonomy (Baumeister and Leary 1995). Communication can move communities, influence cultures and change history. It can motivate people to take stand, consider an argument or purchase a product. Competence in oral communication is a prerequisite to student’s academic, personal and professional success in life. Good communication is important in maintaining relationship in family and with friends. Strong communication skills are vital to effective management. Effective communication is very helpful in workplace where we need to interact with different types of people. In general most communication in the workplace is to either convey information or persuade co-workers (or supervisors) about a course of action.

Skilled interpersonal communication

According to Hargie (2011) communication is a form of skilled performance. Skilled interpersonal communication improves individual and group outcomes in life and work. Skills needed for interpersonal communication are self awareness, control over oneself, speaking clearly and pleasantly, good manners and etiquettes, active listening, understanding of non-verbal behaviour and feedback.
Active listening – Listening is the cornerstone for good communication and is often the least developed skill. To listen demands an active effort to search and understand the meaning of what is said. The active listener listens intently with the aim of empathizing with the speaker.
Focus attention – the first requirement for good listening is to pay attention to be completely focused on the speaker. Listen intently and avoid any distractions. Show your are paying attention with eye contact and non-verbal indicators.
Reflect content and feelings – Use your own words to paraphrase the message to check your understanding of what the speaker is saying. Acknowledge the feelings you hear behind the speaker’s message.
Effective questioning – Ask permission to ask questions. It is a good step toward building trust and will allow a more honest, straight forward, free flowing exchange of information. Questioning the speaker helps to obtain more information and to clarify an earlier point.
Assertion – assertiveness is the ability to confront someone in a non-aggressive and non –manipulative manner.
Giving feedback – Feedback is returning output of information based upon input received by another. When communicating, you must learn to be effective both in the way you receive feedback from others and the way you tell others what you think of their ideas.

Uses of interpersonal communication

  • Furnish, gather and understand information.
  • Develop acquaintances and preserve personal relationships.
  • Influence the stances and conduct of others.
  • Make decisions and solve problems.
  • Establish an identity with others.
  • Satisfies your four needs: physical, practical, social and ego.
                        All communication has both a purpose and an audience,

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Professional competencies for superior performance

Competencies are specific personal qualities or behaviours that individuals must have or must acquire to perform effectively at work. Competency consists of knowledge, skills and personal attributes that affect an individual’s ability to perform. Competencies are internal capabilities that people bring to their jobs. A competency is the capability to apply or use a set of related knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform (applied knowledge or the behavioural application of knowledge). According to the Oxford American Dictionary, a person is competent when he or she is properly qualified or skilled. Competence is the quality or state of being functionally adequate or having sufficient knowledge, strength and skill. Every job requires different competencies. Competencies within different contexts may require different bundles of skills, knowledge and attitudes. Competencies are the gauges for job success. Competencies are the behavioural differences between outstanding performers and average performers and thus are the building blocks to the organizational success. Toyota’s organizational core competencies lie in achieving excellence through ‘continuous improvement and waste reduction’. Google has determined that innovation is a critical competency for their success. Pixar, a digital animation movie production studio has created ‘culture of creativity’ is their core competency.

Concept of competency

The word competency is derived from Latin word ‘competere’ which means ‘to be suitable.’ The concept of performance competencies was pioneered by psychologists Robert white and David McClelland. White (1959) identified a human trait that he labelled ‘competence’ which described those personality characteristics associated with superior performance and high motivation. It was McClelland (1973), a professor of psychology at Harvard University who introduced and popularized the term ‘competency.’ Competencies can be grouped as knowledge, skills, self-concepts, motives and traits (Tucker and Cofsky 1994). A competency is more than just knowledge and skills. It involves the ability to meet complex demands by drawing on and mobilizing psychosocial sources (including skills and attitudes) in a particular context. Acquiring a competency is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. Competencies are built over a period of time and are not inborn. It typically takes experiences on the job to build competencies.

Defining competency

1. A competency can be defined as the entirety of knowledge, abilities, skills and attitudes, which are necessary for an individual to work effectively in particular working environment.
2. A person’s ability or capacity to undertake a particular task or job (Sapre 2002).
3. The knowledge, skills and ability required to be successful in the job (Simpson, HRSG).

Competency versus competence

Competency is a person – related concept that refers to the dimensions of behavior lying behind competent performer. Competency is the ability to apply knowledge and skills to produce a required outcome. It is the ability to perform activities within an occupation; to function as expected for employment and the ability to do a job under variety of conditions.  Competence is a work related concept that refers to areas of work at which the person is competent. Competence is the quality or state of being functionally adequate or having sufficient knowledge, strength and skills.
Competencies= competency + competence

Components of competency

Skills: capabilities acquired through practice.
Knowledge: understanding acquired through learning.
Personal attributes: inherent characteristics which brought to the job.
Behavior: the observable demonstration of some competency.
Competence in most professions involves the effective implementation of three main sets of skills:
1.Cognitive skills – refers to the knowledge base of the profession which sets the individual apart from others.
2. Technical skills –refers to the specialized and manipulative techniques essential to the profession.
3. Communication skills –refers to the ability to interact effectively with clients and other professionals.
General competencies will enable individuals, firms and nations to compete successfully in the global economy of the 21st century. The workplace competencies include the abilities to manage resources, use information, work with others, understand systems and use technology. Five competencies most commonly found in international assessments are critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration and flexibility and adaptability.

Value of competencies

Competencies are essential for preparation and success in employment. Competencies may generic to emerging patterns of work and work organizations. Competencies equip individuals to participate effectively in a wide variety of social settings and adult life.  Competencies involve the integration and application of knowledge and skills. Goldsmith and Walt (1999) emphasize the following six  leadership competencies as ‘the desired characteristics of the leader of the future’: thinking globally, appreciating cultural diversity, demonstrating technological savvy, building partnerships and sharing leadership.

Competency categories

Core competencies are those characteristics that apply to every member of the organization regardless of position, function or level of responsibility within the organization The core competency  is based on the value systems, vision and mission of the organization e.g., motivation, trust, problem solving, interpersonal skills and communication. Core competencies need to be identified, acquired and cultivated to form the strategic architecture of a firm. The organization has been compared to a tree with branches and roots. Then core competencies have been compared to roots that provide nourishment.
Functional competencies are characteristics shared by different positions within an organization that belong to a common job group or occupational family or employees performing a common function. The functional competency is built around key business functions like finance, production and marketing.
Job-specific competencies are characteristics that apply only to specific positions within the organization. They built upon the foundation of the organization’s core competencies.  For example a pilot needs a wide range of skills to fly a plane. Job-specific competencies include functional and technical competencies.
Core, functional and job –specific competencies comprise the architecture of a company’s competency model. Organizations may use competency models as a springboard for organizational change. Competency models have also been uses as a guide for employee development.

Dimensions of competency framework

1. Cognitive competence – knowledge (know-that) and understanding (know-why);
2. Functional competences –skills or know-how;
3. Personal competency – behavioural competencies or ‘know how to behave’;
4. Ethical competency – personal and professional values; moral maturity;
5. Meta-competencies – ability to cope with uncertainty; learning and reflection.
Three –dimensional competency framework (KSA=knowledge, skills and abilities)
1. Cognitive competence –knowledge and understanding
2. Functional competence – skills
3. Social competence – behavioural and attitudinal

Mapping competencies

Competency mapping is the process of identifying key competencies (technical, managerial, conceptual knowledge and attitudes and skills etc.) for an organization and the jobs and functions within it.  Competency mapping involves the process by which we determine: the nature  and scope of a specific job role, the skills required, the level of knowledge required and the behavioural capacities required to apply those skills and knowledge in that role. Competency mapping plays a vital role in selecting, recruiting and retaining the right people.  Individual’s level of competency in each skill is measured against a performance standard. When the competency required for a particular position is mapped, an accurate job profile is created.
Competency profiling is a technique used to determine the unique set of competencies associated with effective job performance in a particular organization. Competency profiles summarize the knowledge, skills and abilities required for an open position. The choice of the best candidate is made easier by detailed matching of educational background, experience and training to the requirements of the position.
A competency dictionary lists all of the competencies that are required by an organization to its mandate. It includes the core and all functional and job- specific competencies identified throughout the organization. A competency dictionary also includes information on the proficiency level needed to successfully perform each competency for each position in the organization.  Identifying job-specific competencies prior to recruitment enables one to determine gauges for success.

Competency modeling

Competency modeling is a job analysis method that identifies the worker competencies characteristic of high performance. There are three fundamental components to identifying competencies (Weiss and Kolberg 2003).
1. Select some of the job’s most effective performers.
2. Study what these people do that distinguishes them from their less-effective counterparts.
3. Identify the competencies that account for this difference.

Benefits of competencies

  • Competencies contribute to valued outcomes for societies and individuals;
  • Help individuals meet important demands in a wide variety of contexts;
  • Be important not just for specialists but for all individuals;
  • Identify selection criteria for interviewing potential job candidates;
  • Structure meaningful performance evaluation.

In summary, competencies are specific personal qualities that are casually related to effective and/or superior performance (Boyatzis 1982). Rothwell (2002) explains that core competencies that are required of all workers. This would include knowledge, skills and abilities (commonly referred to as KSAs) as well as soft skills or behaviours (Lucia and Lepsinger 1999). A competency model is a descriptive tool that identifies the competencies needed to operate in a specific role within a(n) job, occupation, organization or industry. Depending on the work and organizational environment, a group of 7 to 9 total competencies are usually required of a particular job (Shippman et al 2000). Competencies are context – specific (Boyatzis 1982). Some competencies are more important or essential than others for a position. Competence bridges the gap between education and job requirements. High performance is often the result of right people, right place and right time.
                         Competence is an individual's know how or skill. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Secrets of strategic thinking

A strategy is an individual’s comprehensive approach to a task.In other words strategy is a course of action for achieving an organization’s purpose.To think strategically means to take the long-term view and see the big picture of desired end states and set goals. It is like ‘seeing the forest, not just the trees’ or taking a helicopter ride to a sufficient height to see a big picture (‘helicopter view’ of the firm). Strategic thinking requires the consideration of the past, the present and the future of the firm. Strategic thinking plays a meaningful role in ‘thinking in time.’ Strategic thinking is an ability constantly to view an organization’s operations, issues, and problems in a broad situational and environmental context and with a long time perspective. Thinking strategically requires research, analysis and forethought in order to create a plan for how you will proceed as an organization in the future.  Strategic thinking is a very creative, dynamic and powerful skill that will energize you and your interactions with others. Strategic thinking is a key competency that leaders, managers, supervisors and front-line employees need to develop to enable the organization to identify and take advantage of emerging issues.

Concept of strategy

Strategy is a concept with military roots. Strategy is a term comes from the Greek strategia meaning ‘generalship.’ Strategy is the art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle. Henry Mintzberg in his book, ‘The rise and fall of strategic planning’ points out that people use ‘strategy’ in four different ways:
1. Strategy as plan – strategy is a plan. Strategy is some sort of consciously intended course of action into the future (‘purposeful action’) or a guideline to deal with a situation. It can be general or specific.
2. Strategy as pattern –strategy is a pattern. Strategy is consistency in behaviour over time.
3. Strategy as position – strategy is a position. Strategy becomes a ‘niche’ in economic terms or product-market domain.
4. Strategy as perspective – strategy is a perspective- character of an organization.
Strategy is all of these- it is a plan, position, perspective and pattern (four Ps for strategy). Strategy is a means of establishing the organizational purpose, in terms of its long-term objectives, action programs and resource allocation priorities. A strategy aims to steer the direction of the overall organization. It affects the long-term well-being of the organization. A strategy is future –oriented and marked by uncertainty and risk.

Strategy versus tactics

A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal. Strategy is being clear about where you want to go. Strategy has been characterized as “...the pattern of decisions in a company that determines and reveals it objectives, purposes or goals...” Strategy is undertaken before the battle. Tactics are implemented during the battle. A strategy is a larger plan that can comprise several tactics, which are smaller, focused, less impactful plans that are part of the overall plan. Strategy is a thinking process required to plan a change, course of action or organization. A tactic is a tool used in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy. Tactics are the specific actions that are undertaken in implementing the strategy. These actions comprise what is to be done, in what order, using which tools and personnel. Every tactic must suit the strategy. Tactics are the actions that lead to execution of the strategy. Tactics are made up of a few elements: an action, a purpose, a schedule and a measurable result.

Definition and explanation

Strategic thinking is defined as the individual’s capacity for thinking conceptually, imaginatively, systematically and opportunistically with regard to the attainment of success in the future.
Strategic thinking is not similar to critical thinking. Critical thinking can be useful part of strategic thinking but critical thinkers are less likely to be imaginative and opportunistic. Strategic thinking is also not similar to creative thinking. Creative thinking is imaginative and playful. Moreover creative thinking attends to a lesser degree to concepts, systems and opportunities.  Strategic thinking is identifying, imagining and understanding possible and plausible future operating environments for your organization.  Strategic thinking is goal – directed, structured and focused on the future in a precise way. It is analytical and ambitious. It concerns power and trends as well as uncertainty.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is the channelling of business insights into an action plan to achieve goals and objectives.  A strategic plan is a top-level overview of an organization, its performance, its mission and its goals. A strategic plan is like a game plan for the team to follow. It is a step-by-step operating instruction of an organization.
Create vision àdefine objectivesàdefine strategiesà implementàcontrol.

Strategic management

Strategic management is the continuous process of creating, implementing and evaluating decisions that enable an organization to achieve its objectives.
Strategic management à strategic planning +implementation+control.

Elements of strategic thinking

Conceive an ideal future –strategic thinking begins with a clear image of the desired long-range future for the organization. Based on the vision, decisions and actions are formulated.
Focus on core values –based on the core values of the organization – strategic decisions and actions are clearly defined and accepted by the people at all levels of the organization.
Always look for opportunities and threats – strategic thinking mind set depends on a keen awareness of the environment. Strategic thinkers always discover opportunities and detect potential threats in advance.
Search for patterns and relationships –strategic thinkers recognize the patterns between events and circumstances.
Recognize connections - strategic thinkers are deeply aware of interrelationships between actions and events within a system.

Value of strategic thinking

1. Strategic thinking keeps the organization at the leading edge of change.
2. Strategic thinking optimizes the ability to shape and leverage change to organization’s advantage.
3. Strategic thinking eliminates complacency.
4. Strategic thinking creates a sense of unity.
5. Strategic thinking provides proactive leadership and the leaders think systematically with a system’s approach.
6. Strategic thinking creates a life-long learning atmosphere.
7. Strategic thinking provides an effective system to solve major problems.
8. Strategic thinking improves the understanding of the business environment.

Strategic thinking framework (ref: net source)

Strategic thinking can occur in two phases each of which consists of specific steps.
Phase I –setting the stage –consists of two stages
1.  Seeing the big picture – understanding the broader business environment in which you operate.
2. Articulating strategic objectives –determining what you hope to achieve by thinking strategically.
Phase II –applying your skills – consists of 5 additional steps.
1.  Identifying relationships, patterns and trends- detecting patterns across seemingly unrelated events and categorizing related information.
2. Getting creative – generating alternatives, visualizing new possibilities, challenging your assumptions and opening yourself to new information.
3. Analysing information – sorting out and prioritizing the most important information, while making a decision, implementing a project, handling a conflict etc.
4. Prioritizing your actions – staying focused on your objectives while handling multiple demands and competing priorities.
5. Making trade –offs –recognizing the potential advantages and disadvantages of an idea or course of action.

Characteristics of strategic thinker

1. Curiosity – being genuinely interested in what is going on in your unit, company and industry.
2. Flexibility –trying new approaches and ideas.
3. Focus on the future – remaining alert for opportunities that may prove valuable in the future.
4. Openness – welcoming new ideas from peers, customers, suppliers and business partners.
5. Positive outlook – viewing challenges as opportunities and believing that success is possible.
6. Self-awareness – continually working to broaden your knowledge and experience.

Strategic analysis tools

Strategic analysis is the process of conducting research on the business environment within which an organization operates and on the organization itself, in order to formulate strategy.  The strategic analysis tools include PEST, five forces, value chain and SWOT.
PEST analysis – It is a useful tool for understanding the political, economic, socio-cultural and technological environment that an organization operates in it. It can be used for evaluating market growth or decline and as such the position, potential and direction for a business.
Porter’s five forces model – A tool that can be used to evaluate the five forces of competition position analysis: buyer power, supplier power, intensity of rivalry, threat of substitutes and threat of new entrants. This simple framework assesses and evaluates the competitive strength and position of a business organization.
Value chain analysis – A tool based on the principle that organizations exist to create value for their customers. The value chain analysis reveals about your internal strengths and weaknesses. This method divides your firm into its value –producing activities, with aim of evaluating what makes the firm strong and what makes it weak.
SWOT analysis – A SWOT analysis is a simple tool that helps in understanding strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or business activity. It starts by defining the objective of the project or business activity and identifies the internal and external factors that important to achieving that objective. Strengths and weaknesses are usually internal to the organization, while opportunities and threats are usually external.

Benefits of strategic thinking

Strategic thinking offers guidance on the actions to achieve the vision and mission of the organization. Strategic thinking raises awareness about the threats and opportunities involved in a business activity. Strategic thinking aligns the organization around a common direction and set of priorities; improves teamwork and employee’s commitment. Strategic thinking improves the quality of decision making and speed of implementation. Strategic thinking improves organizational efficiency and effectiveness.  Strategic thinking fosters a culture that supports new ideas and creativity for the benefit of the organization.
                         Strategy is undertaken before the battle
                         Tactics are implemented during battle.
                              Strategy + Execution= Success.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The qualities of successful teams

A team is a group of individuals committed to a common goal.Teamwork is a complex process: a group of people pooling their skills, talents and knowledge. In good teams, people with complementary skills work together, each playing to their strengths and each recognizing the strengths of the other team members.The criteria for effective team performance are a deep commitment to a common purpose and the sharing of common goals.One of the key elements of a winning team is a feeling of inter-dependency-one for all and all for one (Stuart –Kotze 2008). Teamwork is the glue which promotes collaboration, commitment, motivation, dependability and accountability among team members. The purpose of a team is to help the organization as a whole to achieve its objectives. Effective teamwork increases problem-solving, decision quality, creativity and innovation. . Vince Lombardi said, “Build for your team, a feeling of oneness, of dependence upon one another, and of strength to be derived from unity”.

Defining teamwork

A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal or purpose.
Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.
A team is small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

7 - essential skills for teamwork

Listening –team members listen to each other’s ideas.
Questioning –team members question each other.
Persuading – team members use persuasion.
Respecting – team members respect the opinion of others.
Helping – team members help each other.
Sharing – team members share ideas and report their findings to each other.
Participating – team members contribute to the project.

Team building stages (Bruce Tuckman model, 1965)

Team building is a process that takes place over time. The start of the process is where there is a group of people, two or more and a leader. The end of the process is where there is a high performing team. The development of a group of people into a team takes time, commitment and energy. A successful team exhibits synergy (the sum is greater than the parts) between the individual members of the team. Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
Forming – stage where the team is first formed. Team members start to work together.
Storming – stage where impatience with progress occurs. Team members challenge their shared purpose.
Norming – team members star to resolve their differences, appreciate colleague’s strength and respect the leader.
Performing – stage where the mature team understands its strengths and weaknesses. Members are satisfied with progress.

Teamwork principles

Strength in numbers – teams function best when the strengths of individuals are combined together.
Integrity – team members exhibit shared perception so that their strengths combine to enhance what they do.
Alignment – the strengths of individuals and the support of colleagues are directed towards meaningful goals in the organization.
Results – the team focuses on delivering results it has a clear performance focus.

Qualities of effective team player

Genuine commitment –An outstanding team player cares about his/her work, the team and the team’s work. The team player exhibits care and commitment to the team’s work.
Open communication – Great team player communicates his/her ideas honestly and clearly and respects the views and opinions of others in the team.
Always reliable – every team needs reliable team members. Reliable team member gets his work done and does his fair share to work hard and meets commitments.
Active listening – good listeners are essential for teams to function effectively. Effective communicators also listen carefully.
Active participation – good team players are active participants. They come prepared for team meetings and listen and speak up in discussions.
Information sharing – Outstanding team player willingly shares information, knowledge and experience.
Cooperation – cooperation is the act of working with others and acting together to accomplish a job. They respond to requests for assistance and take the initiative to offer help.
Exhibits flexibility – Inflexibility is one of the worst human failings. A flexible team member can consider different points of views and compromise when needed.
Problem solver – an exemplary team player is willing to deal with all kinds of problems in a solution – oriented manner.
Support and respect – an outstanding team member treats fellow team members with courtesy and consideration. They show understanding and the appropriate support to other team members.

The qualities of an effective team leader

The team leader is typically a member of the team who provides guidance and support and has ultimate responsibility for the outcomes of the team (Bachiochi et al 2000). According to Zengu et al (1994), team leaders must (1) build trust and inspire teamwork (2) facilitate and support team decisions and (3) expand team capabilities. Team leaders should have significant responsibility, trust, emotional stability and flexibility.

Kinds of teams

Global teams – cross-border teams made up of members from different nationalities.
Virtual teams – consist of geographically dispersed members linked via technology.
Cross functional teams – team members from the same hierarchical level but from different work areas, come together to accomplish a task.
Creative team – a type of team created for the purpose of developing innovative solutions.
Tactical team – a team created for the purpose of executing a well defined plan.
Hierarchical teams – are the traditional type of teams and are most common.
Multidisciplinary teams –are groups drawn from different parts of the organization.

Characteristics of team processes

Team coordination – coordination refers to orderly interpersonal actions required to perform complex tasks. Effective teams harness the variety and minimize the differences of members to ensure that expert skills and knowledge are well utilized.
Team communication – Communication refers to an observable interchange of information and subtle interactions of power, attitudes and values. Effective teams show two-way communication processes with clearly defined responsibilities and appropriate delegation.
Team cohesion – Team cohesion acknowledges member’s personal attraction to the team and the task. Members cooperate interdependently around the team’s task in order to meet team goal.
Team decision making – team decision making is the process through which a team chooses an alternative. Team performance depends largely on the choices made by the team. These choices, in turn, depend on the processes through which teams decide. Therefore high’ performance teams require processes through which teams make high quality decisions.
Team conflict management – team conflict can source both creativity and destruction. For teams to value creative contributions and promote effective problem – solving, diversity needs careful management. Destructive team conflict often has an interpersonal basis in work role or organizational factors.
Social relationships – good social relationships maintain effective teams. Personally team members who are empathetic and supportive offer practical assistance, share information and collaboratively solve problems.
Performance feedback – Individuals, teams and the organization all require accurate and timely feedback about the team’s performance in order to maintain effectiveness.

Characteristics of  successful teams

1. Effective teams are committed to a common purpose and goal. Team members must collectively understand and commit to their team’s purpose.
2. The atmosphere in an effective team tends to be informal, comfortable and relaxed. They are provided with clear expectations and adequate resources to accomplish its goals.
3. The team members must be able to communicate effectively with each other.
4. The team members are free in expressing their feelings as well as their ideas.
5. The members of the team are trustworthy and they rely on each other understanding their own strengths and weaknesses.
6. Effective teams set clear and demanding performance goals. The team defines and achieves a continuous series of small wins along the way to longer goals.
7. The team members appreciate the diversity of knowledge that the other team members offer.
8. The members of the team are creative and unafraid to share opinions, ideas and suggestions.
9. Effective team members avoid conflicts when challenges occur and instead focus on overcoming those challenges.

Enemies of teamwork

Effective teamwork may be undermined by a variety of problems, for example disorganization, poor communication, gossip, misunderstandings, lack of shared purpose or inadequate procedures for problem-solving.

Benefits of teamwork

Teamwork can lead to better decisions, products and services. Teamwork accelerates growth and heightens productivity and profit margins.  Teamwork can allow healthy competition among team members to outperform each other. Teamwork can be a source of education and inspiration. Teamwork allows an easier flow of information and solves problems easily.  Teamwork develops trust and reduces stress. Teamwork helps development, fine tune and executes a project in the most innovative way possible. Teamwork plays a very important role in organization as well as our personal lives.

 Family as a successful team

A family is like a team –Make your family a ‘team’ which will bring wonderful benefits to your young children. It can teach them selflessness, cooperation and develop a strong family bond.
                                        Teamwork is a goal-driven process.
                                                    Unity is strength.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. In his book, Frames of Mind, Gardner described seven distinct types of intelligences-logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. In the next edition of this book he added two more types of intelligences – naturalistic and existential intelligence.
According to MI theory everyone possesses all of the eight intelligences. However the extent to which each is developed in an individual varies from person to person. Each person has a unique intelligence profile. Gardner claims that intelligence is not fixed, but continually expands and changes throughout one’s life. Gardner regards these intelligences not as skills but as “biological potentials” which are realized to a greater or lesser extent depending upon opportunities and motivation (Gardner 2004). According to Gardner’s theory, one form of intelligence is not better than another; they are equally valuable and viable (Gardner 1983). Multiple intelligence theory challenged the dominant definition of intelligence as limited to linguistic and mathematical abilities (verbal and computational intelligences). G-theory defines intelligence as an innate general capacity to learn that varies in amount from person to person, but which is relatively stable over the life span.

Gardner’s definition of intelligence

According to Gardner, intelligence is, “the talent to solve problems or produce products that are considered valuable in one or several cultures.” He stated that intelligence can be described as the combination of psychological and biological characteristics that enable individuals to solve problems or create products that are valued in one or more cultures (Gardner 1999). Gardner further suggests that thinking, problem solving and creating are valued differently depending on the family and community in which individuals live, learn and work.

Domains of multiple intelligence

Gardner proposed that there were eight relatively autonomous but interconnected intelligences:
Verbal/linguistic intelligence (word smart / book smart) - refers to the ability to use language masterfully to express oneself rhetorically or poetically e.g. the writer, orator.
Logical/ mathematical intelligence (number smart/logic smart) - refers to the ability to concentrate on mathematical problems, hypotheses and think logically e.g. the scientist, philosopher.
Visual/spatial intelligence (picture smart/art smart) – refers to the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems e.g. the architect, engineer, sculptor.
Bodily/kinaesthetic intelligence (body smart/ movement smart) – refers to the ability to use one’s mind to control one’s bodily movement e.g. the athlete, dancer, actor, surgeon.
Musical/ rhythmic intelligence (music smart/ sound smart) – refers to the ability to read, understand, and compose musical pitches, tones and rhythms e.g. the entertainer, musician.
Interpersonal intelligence (people smart/ group smart) – refers to the ability to apprehend the feelings and intention of others e.g. the counsellor, minister, teacher.
Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart/ introspection smart) – refers to the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations e.g. the poet, efficiency expert.
Naturalist intelligence (nature smart) – refers to the ability to relate to the natural world with clarity and sensitivity e.g. biologist, environmentalist.
Existential intelligence – refers to the ability to explore complex philosophical questions.

Bases of multiple intelligence theory

According to Gardner, there are biological and cultural bases for multiple intelligences. The neurobiological research indicates that learning is an outcome of the modifications in the synaptic connections between brain cells. The various types of learning result in synaptic connections in different areas of brain. Since different cultures value different types of intelligences, one’s cultural context plays large roles in the formation of intelligence. There is extensive anthropological evidence indicates that certain intelligences (or abilities) exist in highly evolved levels in certain cultures.

Claims of multiple intelligence theory

The first claim is that all human beings possess all of the eight intelligences. Of course the eight intelligences function together in ways unique to each person. The second claim is that just as we all look different and have different personalities and temperaments, we also exhibit different profiles of intelligences. Gardner suggests that virtually everyone has the capacity to develop all eight intelligences to a reasonably high level of performance, if given the appropriate encouragement, enrichment and instruction. Gardner suggests that intelligence usually work together in complex ways. Gardner argues that most tasks require more than one intelligences working together. Gardner further suggests that there are many ways to be intelligent within each category. There is no set of attributes that one must have to be considered intelligent in a specific area. Multiple intelligence theory emphasizes the rich diversity of ways in which people show their gifts within intelligences as well as between intelligences. Gardner has based his claims for the existence of at least eight intelligences on psychological, neuropsychological, neurobiological, historical and evolutionary evidences as well as on findings from psychological experimental tasks.

Messages of multiple intelligence model

1.       We are born with a unique mix of all eight intelligences.
2.       Intelligences combine in complex ways.
3.       There are many ways to be intelligent within each category.
4.       Most people can develop each intelligence to an adequate level of competency.
5.       Each multiple intelligence begins as a biological potential that is shaped exponentially as the individual develops.

Applications of multiple intelligence theory

Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences provides a theoretical foundation for recognizing the different abilities and talents of students. Gardner states that students learn in different ways and need a variety of experiences to develop all their ways of learning. Multiple intelligence theory can be used for curriculum development, planning instruction, selection of course activities and related assessment strategies. Using multiple intelligences in classrooms engages different styles of learning in order to maximize educational success, intellectual growth and enthusiasm among diverse learners.
Application of multiple intelligences enhances one’s self-awareness and increase self-esteem.
Managers who have multiple intelligences can understand the challenges face with employees. The highest performing managers and leaders have significantly more ‘multiple intelligence competencies’ than other managers.
Businesses can use multiple intelligence theory to structure workshops and training sessions for employees which will enhance teamwork, develop human potential and foster creativity.
     Multiple intelligence theory has applications to education

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Daniel Goleman's theory of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional competencies are more important in contributing to work excellence than pure intellect and expertise (EQ beats IQ). Emotional intelligence describes the ability, capacity, skill, to identify, assess and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others and of groups. Emotional intelligence is  a critical part of social intelligence.  Emotional intelligence can be abbreviated to EI and can also be referred to as emotional quotient (EQ). Some research shows that intelligence quotient, IQ contributes only about 20% to success in life. The rest of 80% success depends on one’s EQ. The concept of Emotional intelligence was formally introduced by Professors Peter Salovey of Yale University and John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire in 1990.  Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and science journalist popularized the term emotional intelligence in 1995 in the title of his bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Emotional intelligence is more important for a happy and productive life. People who are positive have been shown to live longer. Leaders high in emotional intelligence are more productive. Emotional intelligence determines ‘one’s ultimate niche in a society.’ Research shows that “emotion makes thinking more intelligent.”

Concept of emotional intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence includes two component terms, intelligence and emotion. Intelligence belongs to cognitive sphere of mental functioning whereas emotions belong to affective sphere of mental functioning. Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. The word emotion comes from the Latin word ‘emoveo’ which means ‘to move from.’ According to Webster’s 1928 Dictionary emotion is ‘a moving of the mind or soul.’ There are six essentially universal emotions- anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise – with most other emotions included within these six categories (Robbins and Judge 2009).  Every one experiences and relates to feelings and emotions. Emotions contain valuable information on relationships, behaviour and practically every aspect of the human world around us.


Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, express, understand and regulate emotions.
Salovey and Mayer (1997) defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to perceive emotions, integrate emotions to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth.”
Goleman (1998) defined Emotional intelligence as ‘the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”  
Reuven Bar-on (1997) described EQ as “an array of personal, emotional and social abilities and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures”.

Principles of emotional intelligence

There are two basic principles associated with emotional intelligence. First emotional intelligence is about  being aware of emotions –identifying and understanding emotions-both of your own and other people’s emotions. Second emotional intelligence is about using and managing emotions of our own and other people’s.

Emotional quotient, EQ

EQ is an inventory designed to measure the capacity of effectively recognizing and managing our own emotions and those of others. EQ is the ability to make deeper connections at 3 levels: with ourselves (personal mastery), with another person (one-to-one) and within groups/ teams.

Models of emotional intelligence

1. Ability EI model – the mental ability model focuses on emotions themselves and their interactions with thought (Mayer and Salovey 1997). This model proposes four main types of emotional abilities:
Emotional perception refers to the ability to recognize and decipher emotions in oneself and others as well as other stimuli including faces, pictures, stories and music.
Emotional use refers to the ability to apply emotions to cognitive activities such as thinking, reasoning, problem solving and decision making.
Emotional understanding refers to the ability to understand emotional information and the causes of emotions and how emotions combine, progress and change from one to another.
Emotional management refers to the ability to be open to feelings and employ effective strategies to promote personal understanding and growth.
2. Trait EI model – this model was published in 2009 by Petrides and colleagues. Trait EI model is a constellation of emotion – related self-perceptions located at the lower levels of personality.  Trait EI model refers to an individual’s own perceptions of their emotional abilities, as opposed to the ability –based model which refers to actual abilities.
3. Mixed models of EI- this model is introduced by Daniel Goleman that defines EI as a wide range of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. There are four tenets to this model:
Self awareness is the ability to understand your emotions, recognize their impact and use them to inform decisions.
Self-management involves controlling your emotions and impulses and adapting to circumstances.
Social awareness is the ability to sense, understand and react to the emotions of others within social situations.
Relationship management is the ability to inspire, influence and connect with others and to manage conflict.

Origin of emotional intelligence

The emotional brain (EB) is that part of the human brain that generates emotions. The amygdala –the part of the limbic brain –is considered to be the emotional centre of our brain and performs a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions. Amygdala is an almond shaped brain structure in the limbic system. The emotional response is relatively less influenced by genetic factors and more by the limbic system of the brain. People seem to develop greater emotional intelligence not in the early childhood but in the adult years. Emotional intelligence seems to be largely a learned response. We continue to develop EI as we go through life and learn from our experiences.

Characteristics of emotional skills

There are five key characteristics that distinguish an emotionally intelligent person.
Self-awareness- having a realistic assessment of his abilities.
Self-regulation – ability to control emotions and impulses.
Motivation – deepest preference to achieve our goals.
Empathy –is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs and viewpoints of other people.
Social skills – People with good social skills can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships. People with good social skills can persuade and lead, negotiate and settle disputes for cooperation and team work.

Components of emotional intelligence

Daniel Goleman (1995) suggests that emotional intelligence consists of five major components:
1.       Knowing our own emotions.
2.       Managing one’s emotions.
3.       Motivating our emotions.
4.       Recognizing the emotions of others and
5.       Handling relationships.

 Benefits of emotional intelligence at work

·         Emotionally intelligent people manage stress better at work.
·         They improve their relationships with co-workers.
·         They deal more effectively with their supervisors.
·         They are more productive and effectively manage their work priorities.
·         They become better team player, managers or leaders.
In general emotional intelligence has been proven to:
¨       Increase workplace productivity.
¨       Reduce stress.
¨       Moderate conflict.
¨       Promote understanding and relationships.
¨       Foster stability and continuity.
¨       Heighten self awareness.

Advantages of emotional intelligence

1.       Emotional intelligence is primarily about managing oneself well and enhancing one’s relationship with others in order to be happier, healthier and more successful.
2.       According to research at the University of Toronto, positive, happy emotions and moods may open one’s mind and increase creative thinking.
3.       Positive emotions enhance problem-solving skills so that positive people find better solutions to problems (Isen 2001).
4.       Emotionally intelligent people can help manage stressful situations and improve negotiation and conflict resolution.
5.       Multiple studies have shown that the most successful leaders in organizations have higher levels of emotional intelligence than others. Emotional intelligence has been shown to be more important in rising to the top of an organization than cognitive competencies. Companies have realized that IQ alone cannot predict an individual’s performance or success.
6.       Emotional intelligence is the most significant for successful project outcomes. Project managers must be emotionally intelligent.
7.       Research indicates that social and emotional skills are associated with successes in effective teaching, student learning, quality student-teacher relationships and academic performance.
8.       Physicians who are better at recognizing emotions of patients are more successful at treating them than their less sensitive counterparts.
9.       Executives who ‘derail’ are often seen as lacking emotional strength.
          Emotional intelligence influences job performance