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The term "conceptual skills" refers to the aptitude that people have to formulate ideas. Such skills include thinking creatively, formulating abstractions, analyzing complex situations, understanding issues and solving problems. In the business world, these skills are considered an integral requirement for executives in top-level management positions. Conceptual skills are different from technical skills and human skills. All three types of skills play important roles in certain situations or for certain purposes, but conceptual skills heave the broadest application because they can pertain to virtually anything.
Conceptual skills involve knowing how to and being able to formulate ideas. Individuals who have strong conceptual skills typically have excellent cognitive abilities to think creatively and solve problems. In a business environment, someone who has these skills might come up with an idea for a new product or a new process. He or she is able to examine a complex issue and formulate a specific, effective course of action.
People who have conceptual skills can examine how ideas are interrelated. They effectively perceive individual elements in relationship to the whole. People who have strong conceptual skills are often identified as effective leaders or managers. This generally is because of their ability to understand the organization as a whole and develop creative strategies. Top-level managers often need to have technical skills and human skills in addition to conceptual skills.
Technical skills involve knowing about things and physical processes. For example, if three steps are required in a waste management process, individuals who have technical skills would know how to implement each of these three steps. People often obtain technical skills either through job training or technical colleges. Supervisors over specific departments usually are managers who have strong technical skills.
Human skills, also called interpersonal skills, involve knowing how to interact well with people. Typically, no one enjoys working for a manager who is rude or inconsiderate, and a manager who has poor human skills can reduce both the morale and productivity of his or her subordinates. Managers who have effective human skills, however, often have employees who possess positive attitudes and strong desires to increase their productivity. In a business environment, it typically is important for managers to work effectively with their peers, subordinates and supervisors. Other interpersonal skills include the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with teams.
High-level managers can utilize all three types of skills to formulate and implement ideas. For example, a leader in the automobile industry needs to know the technical aspects of car production but also must be able to conceptualize the automobile industry and understand how to successfully market cars and how to compete against other car manufacturers. When he or she has formulated an idea for a new product, process or marketing plan, for example, interpersonal skills will help him or her to communicate the idea to managers and employees and convince them that the idea will work. They will then be able to implement the idea and work toward making it successful.