By: Daniel Turner – July 2015
“Why would I need a Diploma of Leadership & Management when I already have a degree?” is a question all-too-often posed to Learning and Development Managers in their ongoing quest to help create their organisation’s future leaders, especially (although not exclusively) in organisations that employ a large number of ‘technical’ staff, such as engineering, medical, energy, and IT firms.
At first glance (and to those outside of the L&D space) this may not seem like such an unfair question and, if the person asking the question has no desire to ever be a manager, then it’s a very fair question. However, given that in most organisations, a rise in pay tends to come hand-in-hand with a rise in rank (which also typically comes with a requirement to lead/manage), then the question isn’t a reasonable one at all. Indeed, in an era where most graduates don’t just want to move up the promotional ladder, they want to do it as soon as possible, the need for people to have more than just technical skills is at an all-time high.
To make a bit more sense of this requires us to take a slightly closer look at the three core requirements of successfully performing your role – Technical, Social, and Commercial. Or, to be a tiny bit more precise:
- Technical – the skills to actually do a ‘hands on’ job (e.g. build a brick wall, program a computer, cut hair, design a bridge, etc)
- Social – the ability to get along with, communicate with, and influence others
- Commercial – the understanding of a business’s needs, strategy, etc (otherwise known as ‘business acumen’)
When a person is in a ‘front-line’ position (i.e. they are not in a leadership/management role, they have no-one reporting to them, and they simply need to get on with their specific job…building a brick wall, programming a computer, etc) they need LOTS of technical skill (to be able to build the brick wall, etc) and relatively little in the way of social and commercial skills (probably just enough to get on with their colleagues and understand what the organisation’s strategy is and how they fit into that).
This might be demonstrated on a pie-chart a bit like this…
However, when a person moves from a front-line role into a leadership role, the pie chart might now look a bit more like this…
This doesn’t, of course, necessarily mean that the person’s technical skills are no longer important (although that can sometimes be the case), simply that as a part of the whole, the technical skills are now less important than the social and commercial skills required of a leader.
So, where does this bring us in terms of our original question of ‘Why would a graduate need a Diploma of Leadership & Management?’ Well, the technical skills gained at university are, of course, an extremely important and valid part of the technical skills development…indeed, for many positions, they are essential. However, university degrees rarely, if ever, teach the social and commercial skills that are absolutely essential for a manager to be successful (and, therefore, for the organisation to have the leaders needed to succeed).
This is where a program such as a Diploma of Leadership & Management (formerly known simply as a Diploma of Management) is a fantastic way of achieving these essential skills AND gaining a nationally recognised qualification to boot.
No, it’s not a degree, but a well-designed and delivered Diploma of Leadership and Management will greatly assist in the successful transition from front-line member of staff to effective leader and is a key first-step for many a successful graduate’s promotional journey!
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