This paper investigates the usefulness of textbook and company approaches to developing managerial skills and competencies. It suggests that textbooks, based on an “experiential” approach to skill building, are contradictory in that they ultimately privilege predispositions over training in the practice of behaviours. The development of managerial skills therefore, is restricted by the individual's predispositions towards behaving in a certain way. In addition, the paper argues that the managerial competency approach used by many organizations, and also reflected in textbooks, fails to appreciate the predominance of the situation or context in determining how managers behave. Ultimately, the education of business students and managers, on courses at university and in‐company, dealing with managerial skills are deficient because “skills” cannot be abstracted from either the person or the context. The idea of managerial competence as a fact of being is illusory, managers are always and constantly being competent or incompetent.
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