Whilst management and leadership are often viewed as overlapping concepts, are they really overlapping? Is there a difference between the two? Is it that leadership is a form or feature of management and is therefore inseparable?
So, here is the million-dollar question, what is the difference between leadership and management? Is a good manager always a good leader? It is a question that is repeatedly asked and replied in distinctive ways.
Researchers and experts most frequently distinguish between managers and leaders based on the view that ‘managing’ is more inclined towards caretaking and maintaining the status quo, whereas, ‘leading’ is more dynamic and visionary.
This distinction however, may be more significant theoretically than in practical application, especially at the operating level of an organization.
As they work to achieve organizational objectives and goals, managers make use of their technical, interpersonal and conceptual skills. Depending upon the manager’s position in the organizational hierarchy, managers make use of these skills in various proportions. Senior managers most commonly make greater use of conceptual skills whereas middle level managers and entry level/junior managers use a more even mix of these three skills.
Additionally, managers have different roles in organizations, the general categories of which include informational, decisional and interpersonal (according to the research conducted by Henry Mintzberg). Successful managers integrate and engage these roles without distinction.
Leaders influence their followers in order to achieve goals and objectives because they possess the power or authority. Different sources of power/authority (possessed by leaders) have been identified including legitimate or formal, coercive, reward, referent and expert power.
Successful leaders understand how to effectively and appropriately use these powers whilst having a clear understanding of the benefits and risks of using each type of power. In addition, successful leaders are believed to possess some traits and skills – traits being assertive, decisive and cooperative and skills being persuasive, creative and intelligent.
Are Managers and Leaders Different?
According to Kotter, “Managers are individuals, to whom the task of management is assigned and is generally believed that they achieve the desired objectives and goals through the key functions of budgeting, planning, staffing, organizing, controlling and problem solving.”
Leaders on the other hand “align, inspire and motivate people as well as set a direction.” Researchers also argue that leaders are considered to have the passion, soul and creativity, whereas managers are believed to have the rationale, mind and persistence.
Leadership vs. Management – Process differences in the workplace
The most important differences between leaders and managers concern the workplace. These differences are outlined below;
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