Leadership and Management Skills

Leadership and Management Skills

Managers and leaders are two very different types of people. The difference between managers and leaders lies in the conceptions they hold, deep in their psyches, of chaos and order. Managers want to impose control, provide stability and to solve problems. They instinctively try to resolve problems quickly, sometimes before they fully understand the significance of the problem. Leaders, in contrast, are much more comfortable in an environment which lacks structure, where they can create action instead of react to situations. They tolerate chaos and are willing to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully. These two fundamentally different approaches have a considerable impact on the willingness of a person to take risks.

Leadership is a phenomenon which has been observed from the beginning of time. By contrast, the concept of management evolved since early twentieth century was driven by the introduction to society of large complex organizations. The leadership lost its appeal in the 1960s when younger members of society were questioning authority, becoming increasingly suspicious about the dark side of leaders, and developing concern over the potential for the abuse of power. A study conducted during 1950s and repeated during 1970s has shown a shift indicating that leaders did not inspire people born after World War 2. The concept of management and the emergence of managers were viewed as the natural alternative to the dangers of charismatic leaders.

Every society has its own method to develop leadership. Each of the method defines its deepest concerns about the purpose, distribution, and use of power. Organizations have contributed its answer to the leadership question by evolving a new class called the manager. Simultaneously, they have established a new power ethic which favours collective over individual leadership and the cult of the group over that of personality. While ensuring the competence, control, and the balance of power among groups with the potential for rivalry, managerial leadership unfortunately does not necessarily ensure imagination, creativity, or ethical behaviour in guiding the future of the organization.

Leadership inevitably needs using power to influence the thoughts and actions of other people. Power in the hands of an individual entails human risks. The first is the risk of equating power with the ability to get immediate results, the second is the risk of ignoring the several different ways people can legitimately accumulate power, and the third is the risk of losing self-control in the desire for power. The need to hedge these risks accounts in part for the development of collective leadership and the managerial ethic. Consequently, an inherent conservatism dominates the culture of large organizations.

The leadership expresses ability of a person to determine the others to participate in a certain way, being a process of orientation of some people by means of communication and convictions, a complex of elements which regards the trust in the people going to the same direction, the mission of the analyzed system, the collective decision, and the motivation of human resources.

The management activity supposes leadership, being more complex than this one, which is limited and determinate by the personal characteristics of the leader, the climate from the organization and the business environment. Inside a group, leaders have a privileged status and their influence in receiving the message is felt. At the group level, the leadership and the influence are according to the communication, which can be (i) horizontal – between the group members which have the same status or a similar one, or (ii) vertical – between different persons from the status point of view (can be descendent – from the leader to the subordinate, or ascendant – from the subordinate to the leader).

The leaders’ role, of influent persons, is that of being mediator between a group’s opinion and the collective information spread by mass-media. Leaders are like linking parts between communication means and the team’s opinion by having authority among the group’s project, the relations settled with the leaded ones and by influencing the behaviour of the group’s members. The leaders represent crucial points of communication inside a group. Communication is an important characteristic of groups, together with self-organization, conformity, unity, and efficiency etc.

Leadership is a part of management, is the ability of convincing the others to search to achieve defined targets, gives coherence to a group and motivates it to achieve goals. Management activities such as planning, organizing and taking decision are inactive germs until the leader releases the power of motivation in people and guides them to certain targets. The leaders are present at the grounds of the organization (imagining that it has a pyramidal structure), their essential role being that of direct human influence, inside group activity (the leader is related to group’s activity) with both the formal leader and the informal one are not to be imagined beside the direct action from inside the group.

The managers are the ones who administer the structures of the organization and, activities and people linked to it. They are present especially in the intermediary levels of the organization. They interlace execution activities with management acts. The activities are 80 % organization and 20 % management. Managers have to be a leader, and an entrepreneur. They frequently tend to insufficiently lead while they excessively administers. The managers are people who ‘do what they have to do’, while the entrepreneurs are people who ‘do what they do, as they have to do’, that is efficiently.

A leader manager leads using communication, visions, insuring the group’s direction of the action. An administrator manager leads by action and direct participation, by strict rules and with reduced vision. The managers have to develop and to promote a politics based on a communication system which allows them the permanent adjustment of structures and of the organizational process at the conditions which are in permanent changing. Modern management is based on communication which is considered to be a vital component of the organization. Without a good communication relation between the manager and the subordinate, there cannot be any progress in the organization. Managers are the persons who apply management functions, according to the tasks, competencies, and responsibilities given to the function they have.

Managers have activities from the management functions. They make and apply development strategies. They make the forecast and the plans. They organize and coordinate work. They ensure a proper climate to performance which motivates the employees. They take care of the growing of the management’s act efficiency. They promote communication with the employees, with the customers, and with the suppliers. They develop strategic relations. Managers are linked to some action verbs such as to do, to develop, to interfere, to manage, to control, to correct etc. Managers do not administer  balance states, but dynamic phenomena. They do not search to maintain an existent situation if it is not profitable.

Leaders are linked to the verb ‘to change’. It is one of theirs characteristics the fact that they can identify the correct hierarchy priorities, that they can act efficiently in inter-disciplinary domains having a high degree of uncertainty, taking risks and finding solutions by uniting their collaborators efforts. The leader has to be seen as an assembly of attributes of the role the person has in a group, and at group’s level, as an interaction process. Without denying the importance of individual characteristics in getting a prestigious position, leaders believe that other two factors are determining the leading characteristics. In reality, the leader exists according to the need of a group of people, according to the nature of the situation where this group is trying to act. The existence of leaders comes not from personal qualities but from the nature of the group and the real situation they are part of.

Leadership solves the changes problem. One of the reasons for which leadership has become so important lately is due to the fact that the organizations have become more and more complex and volatile. Sudden technological changes, the growth in international competition, the irregularity of markets, the over-production in intensive industries, the fragile in cartel oil, the manipulation of actions on stock markets, the demographic changes on manpower markets are some of the factors which contribute to these changes. Fulfilling the same task as yesterday or by 5 % better does not represent a success formula on long term. Major changes are more and more important in order to survive and to efficiently compete in this new environment. More changes need more leadership.

Management firstly deals with the complexity of the problems. Without a good management, complex organizations tend to become very difficult to handle and chaotic. A competitive management assures the order and consistency necessary to some essential attributes of the organization such as quality and profitability of products, by planning and settling the budget, choosing immediate objectives or of future targets, deciding the steps in order to fulfill these targets and giving the resources in order to fulfill the planned plan.

The leaders conduct the organization by constructive changes, starting with creating an image (a vision) on the future (the faraway future), by choosing a direction together with the implemented strategies for the necessary changes in order to fulfill what they have imagined. The manager develops the capacity to fulfill the plan by organizing production and personnel – creating an organizational structure and projecting new working posts; by designating for those posts some qualified persons, by communicating the plan to those people, by devolving responsibilities in order to fulfill the plan and by planning the system in order to implement it.

The leader’s equivalent activity is ranging the people. This means to communicate the direction of action to those people which can form a team, which can understand the plan and which can be involved in its fulfillment. The manager assures the fulfillment of the plan by controlling and solving problems , by confronting the obtained results with the planned ones as far as details are concerned, both the formal and the informal ones, by reporting, through meetings or other methods, by identifying errors, and by planning and organizing problem solver.

For the leader, the vision fulfillment needs motivation, involvement and the employment, the continuation of ranging people on the settled direction in spite of the major obstacles on the changing way, appealing to what seem to be of most importance, without neglecting people necessities, their values and emotions. A careful examination of every enunciated activity leads to the qualities a leader is required to have, the settling of a direction being very important in planning and in budget determination.

As far as leadership’s function is to produce changes, setting the direction of this change is a fundamental activity for the leader. Choosing the direction is not always the same with the planning, not with the planning on long term, even though people frequently confound with these terms. The planning is a management process, of deductive nature, meant to lead to common results and not to the change. Choosing a direction is an inductive action. The leaders gather a complete set of information and search for ways, relations and links which can explain and forecast the evolution of some situations. Fixing the direction in leadership does not lead to plans, but create images and strategies. Neither images nor strategies have to be very innovative. Efficient images about organization are normally common and consist of well known ideas. The combination or the shaping of the idea can be new.

The conservatism of organizations can be described as ‘the organization is a system, with logic of its own, and all the weight of tradition and inertia. The deck is stacked in favour of the tried and proven way of doing things and against the taking of risks and striking out in new directions’. Out of this conservatism and inertia, organizations provide succession to power through the development of managers rather than individual leaders. Ironically, this ethic fosters a bureaucratic culture in the organization.

Personality of managers and leaders

A managerial culture emphasizes rationality and control. Managers are problem solvers. Their energies are directed toward goals, resources, organization structures, or people. The managers take up the problems to be solved, and decide the best ways to achieve the results so that people continue to contribute to the organization. From this perspective, leadership is simply a practical effort to direct affairs and to fulfill their tasks, manager needs that several people operate efficiently at different levels of status and responsibility. It takes neither genius nor heroism to be managers, but rather persistence, tough-mindedness, hard work, intelligence, analytical ability, and perhaps most important, tolerance and goodwill.

Another conception of leadership, however, attaches almost mystical beliefs to what a leader is and assumes that only great people are worthy of the drama of power and politics. Here leadership is a psychodrama in which brilliant, lonely persons must gain control of themselves as a precondition for controlling others. Such an expectation of leadership contrasts sharply with the routine, practical, and yet important conception that leadership is really managing work which other people do. There are issues related to it. Whether this leadership mystique merely a holdover from the childhood i.e. from a sense of dependency and a longing for good and heroic parents, or it is true that no matter how competent managers are, their leadership stagnates because of their limitations in visualizing purposes and generating value in work. Driven by narrow purposes, without an imaginative capacity and the ability to communicate, managers then perpetuate group conflicts instead of reforming them into broader desires and goals.

If indeed problems demand greatness, then judging by past performance, the selection and development of leaders leave a great deal to chance. There are no known ways to train ‘great’ leaders. Further, beyond what is left to chance, there is a deeper issue in the relationship between the need for competent managers and the longing for great leaders. What it takes to ensure a supply of people who assume practical responsibility can restrain the development of great leaders. On the other hand, the presence of great leaders can undermine the development of managers who typically become very anxious in the relative disorder which the leaders seem to generate.

It is easy enough to dismiss the dilemma of training managers, though the organization can need new leaders or leaders at the expense of managers, by saying that the need is for people who can be both. But just as a managerial culture differs from the industrial culture which develops when leaders appear in the organizations, managers and leaders are very different kinds of people. They differ in motivation, personal history, and in how they think and act.

Attitudes toward goal and objectives

Managers tend to adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitudes toward goals. Managerial goals arise out of necessities rather than desires and, hence, are deeply embedded in their organizational history and culture. For example, the organizational objectives for an organization can be ‘ to meet the challenge of the marketplace, the organization is to recognize changes in customer needs and desires far ahead to have the right products in the right places at the right time and in the right quantity. The organization is to balance trends in preference against the several compromises which are necessary to make a final product which is both reliable and good looking, which performs well, and which sells at a competitive price in the necessary volume. The organization is to design and produce products which its customers want to buy.

When leaders think about goal and objectives, they are active instead of reactive, shaping ideas instead of responding to them. Leaders adopt a personal and active attitude toward goals. The influence a leader exerts in altering moods, evoking images and expectations, and in establishing specific desires and objectives, determines the direction the organization takes. The net result of this influence changes the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary.

Conceptions of work

Managers tend to view work as an enabling process involving some combination of people and ideas interacting to establish strategies and make decisions. They help the process along by calculating the interests in opposition, planning when controversial issues surface, and reducing tensions. In this enabling process, the tactics of managers appear flexible. On one hand, they negotiate and bargain, while on the other hand, they use rewards, punishments, and other forms of coercion.

To get people to accept solutions to problems, managers continually need to coordinate and balance opposing views. Interestingly enough, this type of work has much in common with what diplomats and mediators do. Managers aim to shift balances of power toward solutions acceptable as compromises among conflicting values. Leaders work in the opposite direction. Where managers act to limit choices, leaders develop fresh approaches to long-standing problems and open issues to new options. To be effective, leaders project their ideas into images which stimulate people and only then develop choices which give those images substance.

Leaders arouses expectations since unless expectations are aroused and mobilized, with all the dangers of frustration inherent in heightened desire, new thinking and new choices can never come to light. Leaders work from high-risk positions. Indeed, they are frequently temperamentally disposed to seek out risk and danger, especially where the chance of opportunity and reward appears promising. The reason individuals seek risks while others approach problems conservatively depend more on their personality and less on conscious choice. For those who become managers, a survival instinct dominates the need for risk, and with that instinct come an ability to tolerate routine, practical work. Leaders sometimes react to routine work as to an affliction.

Relations with others

Managers prefer to work with people. They avoid solitary activity since it makes them anxious. The need to seek out others with whom to work and collaborate seems to stand out as an important characteristic of managers. Managerial attitudes toward human relations include (i) to seek out activity with other people, and (ii) to maintain a low level of emotional involvement in those relationships. Low emotional involvement appears in the depiction of the ready transformation of potential conflict into harmonious decisions. The two themes can seem paradoxical, but their coexistence supports what a manager does, including reconciling differences, seeking compromises, and establishing a balance of power. Further, the managers can lack empathy, or the capacity to sense intuitively the thoughts and feelings of others.

Empathy is not simply a matter of paying attention to other people. It is also the capacity to take in emotional signals and make them meaningful in a relationship. People who describe other persons as ‘deeply affected’, with ‘intense desire’, ‘crestfallen’, and as those who can ‘vow to themselves’ seem to have an inner perceptiveness that they can use in their relationships with others. Managers relate to people according to the role they play in a sequence of events or in a decision-making process, while leaders, who are concerned with ideas, relate in more intuitive and empathetic ways. The distinction is simply between the attention of a manager to how things get done and the attention of a leader to what the events and decisions mean to the participants.

In recent years, managers have adopted from game theory the notion that decision-making events can be one of two types namely (i) the win-lose situation (or zero-sum game), or (ii) the win-win situation in which everybody in the action comes out ahead. Managers strive to convert win-lose into win-win situations as part of the process of reconciling differences among people and maintaining balances of power.

As an example, take the decision of how to allocate capital resources among operating divisions in a large, decentralized organization. On the surface, the funds available for distribution are limited at any given time. Presumably, hence, the more one division gets, the less is available for other divisions.

Managers tend to view this situation (as it affects human relations) as a conversion issue, i.e. how to make what seems like a win-lose problem into a win-win problem. From that perspective, several solutions come to mind. First, the manager focuses others’ attention on procedure and not on substance. Here the players become engrossed in the bigger problem of how to make decisions, not what decisions to make. Once committed to the bigger problem, these people have to support the outcome since they were involved in formulating the decision-making rules. Since they believe in the rules they formulated, managers accept present losses, believing that next time they are going to win.

Second, the manager communicates to subordinates indirectly, using ‘signals’ instead of ‘messages’.  A signal holds a number of implicit positions, while a message clearly states a position. Signals are inconclusive and subject to reinterpretation in case people become upset and angry, while the messages involve the direct consequence which some people indeed not like what they hear. The nature of messages heightens emotional response and makes managers anxious. With signals, the question of who wins and who loses becomes frequently obscured.

Third, the manager plays for time. Managers seem to recognize that with the passage of time and the delay of major decisions, compromises emerge which take the sting out of win-lose situations, and the original ‘game’ gets superseded by additional situations. Compromises mean that one can win and lose simultaneously, depending on which of the games one evaluates.

There are undoubtedly several other tactical moves managers use to change human situations from win-lose to win-win. But the point is that such tactics focus on the decision-making process itself, and that process interests managers rather than leaders. Tactical interests involve costs as well as benefits. They make organizations fatter in bureaucratic and political intrigue and leaner in direct, hard activity, and warm human relationships. As a result, people frequently hear subordinates characterize managers as inscrutable, detached, and manipulative. These adjectives arise from the perception of the subordinate that they are linked together in a process whose purpose is to maintain a controlled as well as rational and equitable structure. In contrast, people frequently hear leaders referred to with adjectives rich in emotional content. Leaders attract strong feelings of identity and difference or of love and hate. Human relations in leader-dominated structures frequently appear turbulent, intense, and at times even disorganized. Such an environment intensifies individual motivation and frequently produces unanticipated outcomes.

Senses of self

People normally have two basic personality types. People with the first personality type are those for whom adjustments to life have been straight-forward and whose lives have been more or less a peaceful flow. These people have the sense of self as a guide to conduct and attitude derives from a feeling of being at home and in harmony with their environment. On the other hand, people with the second personality type have lives marked by a continual struggle to attain some sense of order. These people cannot take things for granted and have the sense of self derives from a feeling of profound separateness. A sense of belonging or of being separate has a practical significance for the kinds of investments managers and leaders make in their careers.

Managers see themselves as conservators and regulators of an existing order of affairs with which they personally identify and from which they gain rewards. The sense of self-worth managers is enhanced by perpetuating and strengthening existing institutions. They are performing in a role which harmonizes with ideals of duty and responsibility. Leaders tend to be of second personality type and are people who feel separate from their environment. They can work in organizations, but they never belong to them. Their sense of who they are does not depend on memberships, work roles, or other social indicators of identity. And that perception of identity can form the theoretical basis for explaining why certain individuals seek opportunities for change. The methods to bring about change can be technological, political, or ideological, but the objective is the same i.e. to profoundly alter human, economic, and political relationships.

While considering the development of leadership, there is a necessity to examine two different courses of life history consisting of (i) development through socialization, which prepares the individual to guide institutions and to maintain the existing balance of social relations, and (ii) development through personal mastery, which impels an individual to struggle for psychological and social change. Society produces its managerial talent through the first line of development while leaders emerge through the second.

Skills needed by managers and leaders

There exist vast differences in opinion on what skills define leaders and managers. Unfortunately, the terms management and leadership are frequently being used interchangeably in the work environment, resulting in confusion about the roles of managers and leaders. In an effort to address this issue, there are a number of studies which seeks to differentiate between managers and leaders and their respective skills. Majority of the people, however, believe that while managers and leaders differ substantially in countless areas, an effective organization needs some combination of management and leadership skills. In fact, it is argued that the organization which relies too heavily on management skills encourages bureaucracy and stifles innovation, whereas organizations with strong leadership skills and not many management skills can become distracted, cult-like, and continually focused on change with little rationale.

Understanding of the different skill sets which are needed for effective management and leadership is essential if managers are to be successful in their role as leaders. Managers can find the transition to a leadership role difficult. In general, organizations face unique challenges in incorporating management and leadership skills into the organizations. Up until 50 years ago, several organizations (example non-profit organizations) considered management to be a bad thing with management was too closely aligned with for profit business, something they definitely were not. Time and an increasingly dynamic environment, however, has caused a shift in thinking and even the non-profit organizations now know that developing strong management talent is essential, especially since several of the traditional measurements of progress and success such as profits do not exist.

Bringing leadership skills into several organizations has been a similar experience. In recent past, leaders of such organizations have shown leadership skills at their own peril. Organizations of today recognize the need for both strong leadership and management. They also realize that leadership models which encourage more involvement by everyone in the organization are vital to their success. Organizations of today need leaders at all levels of the organization and they need employees who can quickly respond to the changing environment.

Newer leadership models such as shared leadership and collaborative leadership suggest that individuals throughout the organization is required to assume leadership roles when they have the unique expertise and knowledge to address the situation at hand. These models need that managers throughout the organization are to show leadership when the opportunity presents itself. This approach implies that organizations are to understand the differences between the two skill sets and be able to develop these competencies in their employees. Virtually every employee has the opportunity to show leadership at some point. When given the opportunity to lead, it is essential to lead well. Understanding the differences between leadership and management can ensure that employees know when and how to apply each set of characteristics for given processes.

This expectation of more leadership skills from managers is not being driven by organizational management alone. In fact subordinates are looking to their managers for more of these skills as well. Employees expect their managers to lead by providing a vision for the future, better communication and inclusion decision making, coaching and skill development, and more empowerment. Managers are getting the message that they need to be leaders, but the concept of leading, as opposed to the skill of managing, is frequently hard to grasp. However, the managers’ tasks become less process-oriented and more people-focused, when the managers strive to meet the leadership demands. Unfortunately, many a times it is found that managers have not yet developed more people-oriented leadership styles.

Balancing leadership and management skills within the organization is a challenge. Organizations tend to be over-led and under-managed, particularly the owner led organizations. This is due to the great part to the financial pressures on the organizations which divert energy to those functions which generate immediate results. In addition, there is limited reward for showing good managerial skills in such organizations.

Developing both leadership and management skills within the organization is essential for achieving and maintaining success. Leadership, no doubt, is a very powerful resource. At the same time though, competent leadership cannot alone address adequately and effectively all of the challenges which confront the organizations and hence organizations also need to develop effective managers. In organizations, normally the tension between leadership and management considerations persist. So it is important to be continually on the alert for symptoms which can indicate a need to adjust or renew efforts to strengthen management. Understanding the difference between leadership and management helps in monitoring this balance and in determining what skill sets need to be improved.

Similarities and differences between management and leadership

There are the similarities and differences between management and leadership. These can be highlighted under three areas. The first area covers the debate regarding the comparison between leadership and management, the definitions which are used to distinguish leaders from managers, the arguments which are made to support the inter-related nature of leadership and management, and the importance of finding the right balance of these two skills. In the second area, the changing roles of the manager are highlighted and it includes background on how managers has changed over the past several decades, the new leadership responsibilities which the managers are now adopting, the challenges of balancing leadership and management as a leader, and the particular role managers play in change leadership. Finally, the third area covers the specific leadership and management challenges faced by the organizations.

Managers and leaders – the debate continues – A debate has started since late twentieth century on the difference between management and leadership. To begin with, there is a lot of confusion around the use of the terms management and leadership, as well as the terms manager and leader. The terms are frequently being used interchangeably in several organizations. Unfortunately, the identical use of the terms can lead to operational complications and uncertainty by leaders and managers regarding their respective roles. The source of this confusion can stem from different levels of understanding of the two concepts.

Zaleznik challenged the traditional view of management in 1977 and introduced the theory that there is a considerable difference between managers and leaders. Zaleznik argued that when the organizations created managers, they also encouraged a shift to groups over individual leaders. While managerial leadership can ensure that the organization is run efficiently, with stability and a balance of power, it also has the potential to stifle innovation and creativity. Zaleznik went on to outline the fundamental differences between managers and leaders, explaining that they were, in effect, two very different kinds of individuals. The source of this difference is in their underlying concepts of order and chaos. Managers want to impose control, provide stability and to solve problems, whereas leaders are much more comfortable in an environment which lacks structure, where they can create action instead of react to situations

These two fundamentally different approaches have a considerable impact on the willingness of people to take risks. In the opinion of Zaleznik, managers are typically risk adverse in response to their survival instinct, and hence strive to create environments which are stable. As a result, they are willing to tolerate routine work. Leaders, on the other hand, dislike the tedious and thrive on tackling the unknown. They, hence, need an environment which is stimulating, creative, and encourages the imagination.

Starting in the late 1980s, there was a fundamental shift in the economic environment and the growth rate of the economy started to decline. At the same time, organizations were being pressurized to respond more rapidly to external factors, causing the rate of change to increase considerably. These changes precipitated an evaluation of how organizations were run. One of the studies has explained this aspects of the internal and external environment influencing the balance of management and leadership. For example, increased management is needed as organizations increase in size and complexity. On the other hand, as factors in the marketplace become more ambiguous and fast moving, the demand for leadership intensifies.

In this new organizational environment, managers are to be proficient at coping with uncertainty and ambiguity, while showing more flexibility and adaptability in their interactions with both their superiors and subordinates. The use of command and control approaches to influence others is no longer effective and is to be replaced with more leadership-style skills such as coaching and empowering to encourage involvement and gain commitment. In organizations today, leadership is no longer a skill only needed for those at the top of the organization and as the marketplace has become more ambiguous and fast moving, the demand for leadership has intensified.

The traditional view of management, as stated by Zaleznik back in 1977, was centered on organizational structure and processes. Managerial development at that time focused exclusively on building competence, control, and the appropriate balance of power. That view omitted the essential leadership   elements of inspiration, vision, and human passion, which drive corporate success. According to Zaleznik, ‘people need competent managers but long for great leaders’. However, many disagree completely with the premise which distinguishes the manager from the leader and says, in effect, that an individual cannot fulfill both roles. This does not make a sense. A combination of strong leadership and excellent managerial capability is needed for success.

The goals of managers arise out of necessities rather than desires. They excel at defusing conflicts between individuals or departments, placating all sides while ensuring that the day-to-day operations of the organization run smoothly. Managers are typically risk adverse in response to their survival instinct, and hence strive to create environments which are stable. As a result, they are willing to tolerate routine work. Leaders, on the other hand, abhor the tedious and thrive on tackling the unknown. They hence need an environment which is stimulating, creative, and encourages the imagination. Organizational leaders have much more in common with artists, scientists, and other creative thinkers than they do with managers. Organizations need both managers and leaders to succeed, but developing both needs a reduced focus on logic and strategic exercises in favour of an environment where creativity and imagination are permitted to flourish.

Management has been extensively studied and reported on and is well understood. Leadership study, on the other hand, has resulted in multiple conflicting theories of leadership, and the concept as a whole is poorly understood. This can best be illustrated by an frequently quoted statement ‘there are almost as many different definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept’. The response from the organizational management to the views of Zaleznik was strong and opinionated, with the majority of the organizational management leaders disagreeing with his sharp distinctions between managers and leaders. The distinctions between management and leadership are crucial for organizations in developing their human capital. It is sometimes being argued that some individuals have leadership ability and some have strong management skills, but to prepare top executives, they need to develop both. It takes an understanding of the fundamental differences, however, to train potential senior executives on the respective attributes of each. Without this understanding, organizations can have a difficult time in identifying, developing, and preparing their top talent for the right jobs.

As per one of the studies, ‘if the organization cannot define leadership or management, it cannot measure, test, make assessments, or consistently hire or promote for them’. The management is required to understand the differences between the two skill sets and be able to develop these competencies in their employees. Virtually every employee has the opportunity to show leadership at some point. When given the opportunity to lead, it is essential to lead well. Understanding the differences between leadership and management can ensure that employees know when and how to apply each set of characteristics for given processes.

The concept of leadership is not always straight forward and easy to comprehend. One of the studies examined how a leader-identity emerges in relationship to an established manager-identity. The study discovered through interviews with senior leaders and upper level managers involved in leadership training programmes that most participants could provide very specific definitions of management but their definitions for leadership were extremely vague. In fact, most definitions of leadership were created by comparing and contrasting the tasks and behaviours with management. The study concluded that while the managers were enthusiastic about becoming leaders, they were unable to grasp the concept of leadership in isolation from management.

Another concern is that programmes to develop both managers and leaders can be laden by a lack of understanding about the differences between the two approaches. It is frequently being argued that there is presently a strong appeal to leadership, and several management development programmes are trying to reorient themselves as leadership programmes. However, there are four potential risks as a consequence of this orientation. First, there can be a diminished emphasis on the key management skills needed by those in senior positions. Additionally, there is danger in focusing on generic leadership skills and minimizing the situational aspects of leadership. It is suggested that without a better understanding and definition between the two concepts, the accuracy and precision of any study can be compromised.

In concert with the focus on generic leadership skills, the differences between task leadership and process leadership can be minimized. Also, the pathways to leadership or managerial positions can be confusing and not clearly identified.

While there is general agreement that differences do exist, there is a sharp disagreement on the degree of overlap. In a study of three large organizations, it has been found that there has been considerable confusion regarding the differences between management and leadership, particularly in understanding when a specific approach is to be used and how the two approaches can coexist. In one of the studies, it has been suggested that there is recognition that the functions of management and leadership are conceptually different, but that there is lack of acceptance on exactly what the functional differences are and when it is appropriate to adopt a different role. As per the study, ‘understanding the differences between leadership and management can ensure that employees know when and how to apply each set of characteristics for given processes’.

Defining the concepts – Establishing the specific differences between management and leadership has proven to be difficult. The distinction between leadership and management is difficult to define exactly, since there is no commonly agreed definition of the term leadership. Also there is considerable overlap between the terms leadership and management. This, however, has not prevented people from trying to define the two.

One of the easier ways which have described the differences between management and leadership is through the use of metaphors (Tab 1). By using a metaphor, it is possible to employ a figure of speech as a way to compare and contrast the two concepts and make a distinction which can be easily understood.

Tab 1 Metaphors used for describing the differences between management and leadership
GokenbachLeadership is a philosophy that manifests itself in a way of life, whereas management is an identifiable process
CoveyManagement is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success whereas leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall
PerloffManagers make the trains run on time, but it is leaders who decide the destination as well as what freight and passengers the trains carry
Bannis and NanusManagers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right thing

Another method used in various studies considers the description of the different approaches taken by leaders and managers. As an example, one of the studies compares management to leadership (Tab 2) in terms of how each approaches the key processes namely (i) creating an agenda, (ii) developing a human network for achieving the agenda, (iii) execution, and (iv) outcomes. As the comparison shows, it has been concluded in the study that the main focus of management is to produce consistency and order, whereas leadership produces movement.

Tab 2 Comparison between management and leadership
Key processesManagementLeadership
Creating the agendaPlanning and budgeting – establishing detailed steps and timetables for achieving needed results, and then allocating the resources necessary to make that happenEstablishing direction – developing a vision of the future, frequently the distant future, and strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision
Developing a human network for achieving the agendaOrganizing and staffing – establishing some structure for accomplishing plan requirements, staffing the structure with individuals, delegating responsibility and authority for carrying out the plan, providing policies and procedures to help guide people, and creating methods or systems to monitor implementationAligning people – communicating the direction by words and deeds to all those whose cooperation can be needed so as to influence the creation of team and coalitions which understand the vision and strategies and accept their validity
ExecutionControlling and problem solving – monitoring results against plan in some detail, identifying deviations, and then planning and organizing to solve these problemsMotivating and inspiring – energizing people to overcome major political, bureaucratic, and resource barriers to change by satisfying very basic, but frequently unfulfilled, human needs
OutcomesProduces a degree of predictability and order, and has the potential of consistently producing key results expected by various stakeholders (e.g., for customers, always being on time; for stockholders, being on budget)Produces change, frequently to a dramatic degree, and has the potential of producing extremely useful change (e.g., new products which customers want, new approaches to labour relations which help make the organization more competitive)

One of the studies has followed a similar path, describing a management-oriented versus leadership-oriented range. At one end of the range are managers who tend to be analytical, structured, controlled, deliberate, and orderly, and at the other end of the range are leaders who are more experimental, visionary, flexible, uncontrolled, and creative. The study goes on to discuss the different managerial versus leadership attitudes which are adopted in the five key areas namely (i) competitive strategy and advantage, (ii) organizational culture and capability, (iii) external and internal change, (iv) individual effectiveness and style, and (v) bottom-line performance and results.

In exploring the first key area, the competitive strategy and advantage, the study uses specific words which emphasize the two extremes to demonstrate the attitudinal differences between managers and leaders over eight different dimensions (as shown in Fig 1.

Fig 1 Manager–leader range for competitive strategy / advantage

Looking at the first dimension listed, the study suggests that while managers are more focused on the strategic imperatives in the strategy-culture paradigm, leaders place their attention on the cultural values in the strategy. Comparing the differences on the danger-opportunity dimension, managers remain alert to the danger or failure prevention part of the strategy, while leaders are in tune with the opportunities which the strategy provides. This comparison of the different attitudinal approaches continues for the other six dimensions in this key area and in the other four key areas as well. It is also argued in the study that very few individuals have styles which place them at either extreme end of the range, and that most ‘possess some combination of management and leadership orientations with an overall preference for one or the other’.

As the examples demonstrate, majority of the studies see management and leadership as two very different and distinct concepts. One of the studies acknowledges that the two skill sets are similar in that ‘they both involve deciding what needs to be done, creating networks of people and relationships which can accomplish an agenda, and then trying to ensure that those people actually get the job done’. Further the study says that their differences, however, are related to something very fundamental (their primary functions). The primary function of managers is to ensure that results are achieved through order and efficiency, whereas primary function of a leader is to create considerable useful change. The difference can be described briefly as management copes with complexity while leadership copes with change.

Management and leadership: distinct or interrelated – One of the downsides of drawing clear distinctions between the functions of management and leadership is that several of the descriptions portray management as somehow bad and leadership as good. One of the studies discusses leadership and management as opposite ways to approach employee supervision. It characterizes leadership by describing actions such as creating a trust-based environment, with open and honest communication, and placing people first with no hidden agendas. It contrasts with management, which the study describes as controlling through the use of fear, limiting communications to a need to know basis, and working through small groups instead of gaining input from everyone. In discussing the symbolic functions of each, another study describes a leader as someone who controls fate and brings about change, and a manager as one who controls entropy by keeping order and acting as the enemy of creativity and change. One of the studies uses the example of the comic strip to illustrate the perception of management as bad and frustrating. This perception persists, since several people have experienced a bad manager in their career, but very few have had the opportunity to work for a great leader.

Even when the distinction does not specifically portray management as bad, very frequently the descriptions suggest that managers are not as important as leaders. There is normally a predisposition to see leadership as superior to management. Frequently it appears that the goal is to make leaders out of managers, but not vice versa, since ‘managers are earthbound and ordinary. Leaders reach for the stars’.

Summarizing the idea that a clear distinction between the two concepts can lead to the perception which says that management is not as important as leadership. It results in nothing more than a vague feeling that managing is something rather routine, looking after the nuts and bolts of the organization and leading is something special and precious undertaken by the really important people in the organization.

One of the studies has suggested that some managers, wary of the perceptions associated with management, try to avoid the characterization of manager and can attempt to undermine leaders by denigrating their leadership image. On the other hand, leaders also play a role in accentuating the difference by showing a patronizing behaviour towards what they consider the necessary evil which is management. Another study describes the difference between managers and leaders as a function of how they have achieved their position, with leaders relying on popular support while managers are appointed. In contrasting the approaches of leaders and managers, one of the studies describes the distinction as leaders using their influence to gain commitment from others, while managers merely perform their responsibilities and exercise authority. When discussing change, another study highlights the role of the leader as the change agent, while the role of the manager is described as administrative. In discussions on transformational and transactional leadership, where the transactional approach is considered closer to a managerial approach, it is sometimes being stated that ‘to be transactional is the easy way out while to be transformational is the more difficult path to pursue’.

One study has pointed out that this natural tension between managers and leaders can create an adversarial environment, where managers work to restrain the creativity of leaders and leaders discount the value of managers.

Several studies, however, see management and leadership as complimentary with inter-related skills. One of the studies asserts that the two functions share similarities, specifically, that both focus on making decisions about what needs to be accomplished, and rely on relationships with individuals and networks to ensure that the work gets done. The difference is that leaders and managers approach these challenges differently. These different approaches, however, are complementary systems of action and both are needed to achieve success. Another study has a similar attitude and suggests that it is management which provides the structure that allows successful leadership to emerge. For example, since leadership is primarily focused on facilitating change, it needs the use of certain fundamentals to affect transformation such as change theory and process analysis, both of which are managerial skills.

As mentioned earlier, metaphors are used to help illustrate the relationship between managers and leaders. Several studies have used human dimensions to depict the complimentary yet inter-related nature of the two roles. Some studies consider managers to be the mind of the organization, whereas leaders are the soul. Another study follows a similar construct by referring to managers as the brains and leaders as the heart. All these studies use this type of metaphor to explain the necessity of having both the more pragmatic characteristics of the manager balanced with the idealistic nature of the leader. As discussed earlier, one study describes the relationship between leadership and management on a range, and states that the words leader and manager are really metaphors which signify the extreme ends of the scale. This study suggests that the two skills are inter-related by the fact that majority of the people reside somewhere in between the two ends and show some combination of both.

One study suggests that the field demonstrates how leadership and management can coexist and work together for the benefit of the organization. It also see a leadership / management field, and propose four different configurations which represent slightly different functions namely (i) leadership in a leadership configuration (LLC), (ii) management in a leadership configuration (MLC), (iii) leading in a management configuration (LMC), and (iv) managing in a management configuration (MMC). It suggests that these fields demonstrate how leadership and management can coexist and work together for the benefit of the organization.

Some of the studies see a much stronger correlation between the two roles, even suggesting that leadership is an aspect of management. One study asserts that it can be beneficial to think of leadership as a facet of management rather than a separate activity. According to this study, managers are frequently called upon to both lead and manage simultaneously, resulting in extensive overlap between the two activities. It suggests that singling out leaders as a separate group can create problems and that it is more useful to consider leadership as integral to management. Another study takes a similar approach and argues that leading is not to be considered an independent and unique activity from managing, but that it is, in essence, an element of managing. On the other hand, another study disagrees with this approach. It sees leadership and management as ‘complete action systems; neither is simply one aspect of the other’.

Some other studies seek to find a blending of the two skills, and frequently use such terms as managerial leadership, leader / manager or manager / leader. One study states that it is bothered by the need to distinguish between leaders and managers and that it is not appropriate in every circumstance. It states that every time it encounters utterly first class managers they turn out to have quite a lot of the leader in them. The study believes that there are leaders and leader / managers, and that they differ from traditional managers in several respects, including their long term views and how they reach and influence people. One study believes that there are really two kinds of leaders namely (i) strategic (focused on the long term vision), and (ii) operational (focused on implementing the vision). It is suggested in another study that by reintegrating leadership and management, a more realistic perspective of leadership can be gained which reflects better the organizational realities.

A balanced approach – Although there is much disagreement about the degree of distinction between management and leadership, several studies agree that it takes both sets of skills for the organization to be successful. Finding the right balance between the two functions, however, is important. According to one study, there are considerable risks when either leadership or management becomes dominant within the organization at the expense of the other. An early study strongly suggested that the most prevalent organizational dynamic is to be over-managed and under-led. Under this scenario, organizations become rigid, lacking in innovation, and unable to adequately respond to changes in their markets, emerging competitive pressures, and technological advances. Over time, they become bureaucratic and repressive, and the goal of maintaining order and control is supreme.

One of the studies claims that in over-managed organizations, training managers in leadership skills is worthless since managers lack the necessary organizational support to be successful, when they try to lead they are not permitted to do so since what they are expected to do is to manage. As a result, several organizations are preventing good leaders from emerging. In contrast, organizations which are over-led and under-managed show their own unique issues. Over-led organizations tend to place too much emphasis on the leader, frequently becoming cult-like and focused on constant change. In a survey, respondents tended to view the strong leader / weak manager dynamic in a negative light, indicating that they believed that those individuals frequently cause more disruption and problems than they resolve. It appears that strong leadership with weak management can be more detrimental to the organization than the opposite. One of the study claims that a crisis in the organization can be due to a direct result of leadership being too disconnected from the function of management. If the organization has too many leaders who are detached from the messy process of managing, they do not know what is going on. The organization is over-led and under-managed.

One study indicates that although the trend is to separate leaders from managers, it does not work in practice. The study goes on to suggest that this dysfunctional approach is driven by the current prominence now given to leadership, which encourages leaders to be more focused on impressing outsiders rather than focusing on what is going on within the organization. It is argued that leaders have considerably less impact on organizations than they are given credit for, and suggests that as management becomes increasingly more participative, leaders become less necessary.

Based on study results, one of the studies concludes that both leadership and management skills are needed for the organization to reach and maintain success. It suggests that the ideal situation is having both strong leadership and strong management, and using both skill sets to balance each other. Another study agrees that it takes both to run a successful organization, with leadership outlining the direction and management creating the systems which support growth. As argued in another study, assigning labels to managers and leaders is not beneficial since ‘an effective executive needs a combination of both qualities’. It appears, however, that a limited number of individuals are proficient at both skills.

A survey has shown that over 95 % of the people surveyed have indicated that their organizations have only few individuals who are strong in both leadership and management. One approach to addressing this issue is to promote leadership at all levels of the organization. It is frequently proposed that managers are to improve their leadership skills. To accomplish this, organizations need to incorporate approaches which help to develop their managers into individuals who can lead. A study agrees that better leadership and management are needed, and that more leadership is needed at every level of the organization. Managers these days have to be leaders and there is no getting around it.

One of the studies sums up this approach. As per the study ‘instead of distinguishing leaders from managers, organizations encourage all managers to be leaders. And they are to define leadership as management practiced well. Not everyone agrees, however, that this is the right approach. One study disagrees with the premise that all managers are to become more leader-oriented. The study takes the view that individuals demonstrate a propensity towards either management or leadership, and that both types of individuals are to be valued. The study believes that by emphasizing the unique strengths of each, the weaknesses of both can be minimized.

One study puts forward that managers distinguish themselves from other managers when they make the decision to lead, manage, or use a combination of the best elements from each skill set to achieve exceptional results. Unfortunately, how best to establish this balance of skills is still unclear. According to another study, although it is agreed that organizations needs both leadership and management to succeed, the roles of each are not clearly understood and the optimum balance between the two skill sets has yet to be established. It is suggested that studies are be undertaken to determine how effective leaders find the right equilibrium between management and leadership, and how they use that balance to influence others.

One of the studies sums up this approach that instead of distinguishing leaders from managers, organizations are to encourage all managers to be leaders. And the organizations are to define leadership as management practiced well. However, everyone does not agree that this is the right approach. One of the studies disagrees with the premise that all managers are to become more leader-oriented. The position the study take is that individuals demonstrate a propensity towards either management or leadership, and that both types of individuals are to be valued. The study believes that by emphasizing the unique strengths of each, the weaknesses of both can be minimized.

Balancing the leadership and management roles – One possible contributing factor to this confusion regarding the responsibilities of managers is the tendency to interchange the terms management and leadership. The semantics problem really becomes an issue when one is searching for a term to describe an individual possessing a combination of management and leadership skills which can reside at various levels in an organization. Unfortunately, the controversy over leadership versus management persists since people have used such constricted definitions of each that it has become difficult to comprehend how the two skills can be effectively integrated. In response, several studies have attempted to create new or hybrid terms to capture the unique attributes of managers which combine both management and leadership skills.

One area where managers experience difficulty is in completely identifying with the leadership role. A study was conducted on leadership styles used by managers in healthcare. One of the observations was that the turbulent demands of the healthcare environment need managers to become proficient in change management and fostering cross organizational relationships. Yet it was rare, especially in light of the expectations that managers identified with the leadership styles which support these types of activities. One change which helps managers embrace more of a leadership identity is to create job descriptions which clearly recognize the leadership approaches needed.

A study points out that while the job descriptions of majority of managers provide alignment between their managerial goals and roles, the new expectations of leadership need managers to exceed the stated parameters of that job description, creating confusion about their responsibilities. Some people suggested manager / leader, leader / manager, and managerial leader in an effort to identify those managers which have the ability to combine both skills. No matter the label, the search for a better term signals the need for a new role definition which clearly communicates the emerging hybrid nature of the manager as a leader.

The ability to balance both leadership and management skills is especially important for managers. Managers need a fine balance of management and leadership skills. Managers to be successful, their skill in managing is to be balanced equally with skills in leading and coaching. In fact, it is exactly this ability to balance the sometimes conflicting skills of management and leadership which ultimately differentiates those managers who achieve success from other managers who get sidelined. In an effort to explain why some high potential individuals achieve success while others are derailed, a study suggests an appropriate mix of both management and leadership skills leads to individual success. The study proposed a model which shows how promising employees can have various combinations of management and leadership skills. The study suggests that the optimal mix of skills can shift as an individual assumes increased responsibilities within the organization (Fig 2).

Fig 1 A model for individual success and failure

Those individuals who are considered to have a successful combination of skills demonstrate at least high proficiency in one skill and medium in the other, whereas employees with either low/high or medium /medium skill levels are candidates for development. The model also shows how the lack of either a sufficient degree of leadership or management skills can prevent selection for additional responsibilities or ultimately derailing a promising employee from achieving further success.

One area where managers demonstrate a particularly relevant balancing of leadership and management skills is in leading change. In fact, when it comes to facilitating radical change, managers are important to the process.

Organizations are increasingly recognizing that to be competitive they are to invest in leadership and management development. Over the last decade, organizations and their leaders have experienced major changes in the workplace, including rapid technological change, increased globalization, changing organization structures and major changes in the dynamics of careers. Leaders and managers are considered a highly influential group in terms of creating high-performance organizations.

Organizational capability at a management level in an organization is considered essential to improve competitiveness and ensure future growth. Organizations taking a proactive and systematic approach to management and leadership development normally produce more leadership talent, and best-practice organizations are characterized by the intensity and quality of their management and leadership development interventions. They do as much of the same as other organizations but perform it with greater rigour and consistency.

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