Topic: Management and Leadership
‘Managers should be leaders and leaders should be managers’. Discuss.
In this assignment, the statement ‘Managers should be leaders and leaders should be managers’ will be critically discussed. First of all, both terms will be introduced and explained. Afterwards, the mentioned statement will be discussed. The assignment will end with a conclusion and a brief overview about related issues and how the findings will affect on organizations.
"Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing." (Pascale 1990, p. 65)
As the before mentioned statement shows, management and leadership are two distinctive fields of action, being subject of a debate for almost a century (Buchanan and Huczynski 2004, Kotter 1990). Few authors state that the distinction between both fields is only a matter of academic view and that it has no significance for practical situations at all (Hales 2001). However, this is not the common opinion and there are several studies available which investigate the characteristics of managers and leaders.
The word manager is derived from the Latin manus, meaning hand. The word was above others applied to the handling, training and control of horses, ships and armies (Turner 1998). Gradually, the word came into more general use and is now used to describe persons which are responsible for organization and administration activities (Maccoby 2000). Managers are responsible for a certain organizational unit and the employees in it. Therewith, management and managerial power is strongly related to a certain formal or hierarchical position (Owen et al. 2004). Managers have to deal with complex organizational issues, see the broad picture and make use of analytical inputs. They set targets for the future development, establish action plans and monitor the use of the allocated resources. Also, they allocate tasks to qualified employees and delegate responsibilities as well as communicate the measures which have to be taken. As a result, good management achieves a degree of order and consistency, which is increasingly important in today’s business environment (Kotter 1990, Mintzberg 1973 and 1975, Owen et al. 2004).
In contrast to this, the word leader comes from the word laed, which is used in several Northern European languages and means path or journey. Accordingly, in the business context, leaders cope with the change of and in an organization and guide people during this process (Maccoby 2000, Owen et al. 2004, Turner 1998). This has become especially important as the business environment is becoming more competitive and volatile, requiring changes to survive and compete (Kotter 1990). Managers do this by setting a direction for future development through visions and strategies. Through the communication of the corresponding information, they try to motivate, inspire and create commitment in order to implement the changes – regardless to their organizational position (Kotter 1990, Turner 1998). Instead, their behaviour is based on certain main beliefs – such as self-assurance, sensitiveness to the needs of others and fairness – which lead to an inner conviction and sustainable actions (Turner 1998).
To put it in a nutshell, it can be said that managers take charge, plan and budget, organize and staff and control and solve problems (Table 1). This means, they are always very result-oriented and adapt different roles according to the situation. Overall, management is a rather top-down oriented approach. In contrast to this, leaders set directions as well as motivate and align people on the basis of an inner conviction (Buchanan and Huczynski 2004, Kotter 1990, Turner 1998). The focus on people is typical for leadership. It can be said that leadership is very much about enabling people to be successful, which leads to skill development on the long run. In the words of John Harvey Jones: ‘Leadership is about getting extraordinary results from ordinary people’ (Turner 1998, p. 9). This means, leaders create situations in which others can work, succeed and grow. They delegate in a promoting way and give praise when due. They themselves serve as good examples how their employees can maximise their skills and should encourage and support them to reach their full potential (Owen et al. 2004, Turner 1998). Therewith, leadership can be seen as a bottom-up approach (Yukl 2002). A concluding overview about the different characteristics of management versus leadership functions is given in the following table 1. It has to be highlighted that neither of the two described functions can be seen as advantageous in general. Moreover, the advantages and disadvantages of both functions depend on the specific tasks and circumstances.