A Comparison of Management and Leadership
Management and leadership are often mistakenly considered to be the same thing. In truth, management and leadership are different processes and involve different activities. This means that a good leader is not necessarily a good manager, and that a good manager is not necessarily a good manager. This will now be discussed in more detail by comparing leadership and management and by comparing the traits of a leader and the traits of a manager.
Management can be broadly defined as the ability to manage resources to achieve goals. In practice, this refers to controlling both material resources and people to achieve the goals of the organization. Management can be further divided into the tasks of organizing, planning, controlling, and directing. The manager’s role is to manage tasks and people on a consistent basis to ensure that goals are met.
Leadership is defined as “the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals” (Robbins 2001, p. 314). Like management, leadership is related to achieving goals. However it specifically refers to motivating and influencing people so that they take action to achieve goals. The leader’s role involved motivating people and influencing them so that they want to act in ways that will meet the goals of the organization.
The role of the manager can be further explored by considering the key traits that are characteristics of a good manager. The first key trait is the ability to set goal and organize. This ability is essential to ensuring effective ongoing operations, since without goals, the demands of the organization cannot be met. This reference to goals does not refer to a manager setting goals for themselves. Instead, it refers to a manager setting goals for the department, teams, and individual employees. This goal-setting plays a key role in managing the ongoing operations of a company. The next key trait is good communication. There are several reasons why communication is vital. Firstly, management includes controlling human resources. To manage the people of the department, a manager needs to be able to communicate clearly. This is essential to effective hiring, delegation, conflict management, and review processes. A manager will also normally need to coordinate the needs of their department with the other departments of the organization. This coordination allows the organization to function as a whole, with departments working effectively together to achieve the same overall goals. Without effective communication, a manager cannot coordinate with other departments effectively. Finally, there is often a need for managers to communicate effectively with people outside of the organization. This may involve dealing with customers, clients, suppliers, or service providers. It will be the manager’s job to ensure that the departments and employees have whatever resources are needed, with this often requiring effective management with third parties. The third key trait of an effective manager is the ability to accept feedback and adapt to changes. Accepting feedback means that the manager gains the knowledge of what is going right, what is going wrong, and how things can be changed for the better. The ability to accept feedback is a key factor in constantly improving the department. It is also a key factor in managing conflict and in predicting and preventing problems. The ability to adapt to changes is also critical because a department is never operating in an isolated environment. Things change both within the company and outside of the company on a constant basis, and these changes impact the operation of the department. A good manager is aware of the changes and is able to be flexible and adapt, either to reduce problems or to take advantage of opportunities. The final key quality of a good manager is the ability to follow up and follow through. It must be remembered that a manager’s job is to ensure that resources are being managed to achieve goals. While a manager’s job is partly about planning for the future, it is largely about ensuring everything is running smoothly on a daily basis. For this to be effective, a manager needs to be proactive and timely. Management will not be effective if a manager assigns a task, begins a project, or makes a change without following up to ensure that everything is operating as it should be.
The role of the leader is significantly different and so are the traits of a good leader. The first key quality is that a good leader blazes a trail. Unlike the manager, the leader is not concerned with ensuring that daily operations are proceeding smoothly. Instead, the leader is making changes and motivating others into working towards the changes. The ability to blaze a trail means that the leader is able to take dramatic action and excite others. The next key quality is related, which is the ability to inspire others. The ability to inspire is essential to leading because it relates strongly to motivating people into taking action. The third key quality of a leader is that they are innovative. This quality is needed because a leader is normally required not to maintain the status quo, but to change it. In these times of change, there are many unknowns. An innovative leader can thrive in times of change because they have the ability to adapt to unknown situations. Times of change are usually also times of facing significant problems. An innovative leader is essential because they have the ability to develop solutions for the many new problems arising. The next key quality is the ability to empower others. It has been noted that part of the leader’s job is to motivate and inspire others. However, getting people motivated is useless is they are not actually motivated to action. For example, a good leader might be able to inspire everyone and get them excited about working on a new project. This is not useful to the organization unless this excitement is transferred into action. Empowering others to act means that the leader is able both to motivate people and to empower them so that they can take action. It is this combination that results in the organization moving towards its goals. Empowering others is also a way that a good leader makes changes that are greater than what they themselves can do. By empowering others, they change what employees do. This is how effective change occurs and how the status quo of an organization can be changed. The final key quality of a good leader is that they show appreciation for other people’s contributions. This is important in motivating employees, because employees are generally more motivated when they feel appreciated. This is also important because a good leader needs to maintain the respect of employees. This is true because a person can only be motivated or inspired voluntarily. A manager controlling everyday operations may influence how hard employees work by using the power their position gives them, such as the ability to give rewards and punishment. However, this is not the same as inspiring an employee. These forms of influence may be enough to maintain the status quo, but they are not normally enough to change it. For an employee to change their actions, they need to be inspired by someone. Most importantly, people are generally only inspired by people they admire or respect. This is why a good leader needs to have the respect of employees, and to be seen as someone people want to work for. Showing appreciation for others is a key way that good leaders gain the respect they need to be effective.
Overall then, it has been seen that managing and leading are two different things and serve two different purposes. Based on each process and the needs of each, it has also been seen that an effective manager has different traits than an effective leader.
Robbins, S.P. (2001). Organizational Behavior. , NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.