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  • Published on: 21st September 2019
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Leadership and management are two unique structures with a different set of

activities or functions, but they are complimentary systems of each other. Some researchers debate that although management and leadership intersect in areas, the two activities are not synonymous (Lunenburg, 2011). It is not an issue of one being better than the other because leadership and management skills, while different, together can form a great leader-manager organization. When you have an organization with a person who over-managers or under-leads eventually the individuals purpose becomes lost. Leaders can be any member of a team; leadership is executed by individuals who are not managers. Gary Ludwig (2016) states it very simply, “you lead employees and manage things.” People versus things. We manage a budget, schedules, inventories, but we lead people. A common theme that comes up regardless is that management is concerned with providing order and consistency, while leadership is about producing change and movement (Swanwick & McKimm, 2011, p. 4).

History of Leadership versus Management

The word “leadership” dates back centuries, but has only evolved into the English language in the last millennium. “Leadership” appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary around 1225 CE, with the definition that is: “to guide with reference to action and opinion; to bring by persuasion or counsel to or into a condition; to conduct by argument or representation to a conclusion; to induce to do something” (Toor & Ofori, 2008). After more than a thousand years the word “leadership” is transformed to the “position of a leader, especially of a political party; the position of a group of people leading or


influencing others within a given context; the action or influence necessary for the direction or organization of effort in a group undertaking” (Toor & Ofori, 2008). Although the concrete definition of leadership has changed throughout the years, one common theme stays the same: taking action to promote change, influencing others, direction, and the ability to lead.

The historical development of management has been less evolutionary than leadership, as the systematic study of management is only about one hundred years old (Fleet, 2015, para. 1). The meaning of the word “manage” is derived from the Italian word “meneggiare” which roughly translated means handling things, historically used when describing handling horses. With roots in the Latin word “manus” or management-as- control. The modern day definition of “management” in the Oxford English Dictionary is: “organization, supervision, or direction; the application of skill or care in the manipulation, use, treatment, or control of a thing or person, or in the conduct of something” (Toor & Ofori, 2008). “Management” is about controlling, directing, and coping with predominant circumstances according to its history.

The Process

There are distinguishable differences between leaders and managers, but what is the process that makes a leader; lead and a manager; manage? Leadership can be described as a social process where one person influences the behavior of others without the use of threats or violence. Some of the early theorists believed that leadership skills are something you are born with. They theorized that leadership came in an individual’s DNA, in the form of intelligence, initiative, and confidence. Others would disagree and argue that


leadership is something that is observable and learnable (Ellis & Abbott, 2013, p. 96). Leaders develop a vision for the group, team, or organization. They align people with that vision through communication and inspiration. A leader motivates people through empowerment and fulfilment to affiliate them together. Through this process, the leader creates change.

The managers process is different than that of the leader. The managers process stabilizes and reduces uncertainty through the organization. The manager looks at a project with a scheme to accomplish a goal. They define the overall scope of the project, identify a planning strategy, and develop the work load for individuals. Their process involves planning and budgeting. They staff the organization and systematize the staff. They are controlling of situations and solve problems when they arise. One example of a planning process comes in a five-level strategy. At the first stage of their plan there is little to no formal planning. Level two happens when the informal schedule is established and the cost estimating process is expressed. At level three, planning is managed using formal tools and techniques. In this stage project teams are engaged and provide input in the planning process. Next, level four is implemented, at which time knowledge areas are integrated into the planning process. In the last level, the planning process is made sustainable for continuous process improvement (Hoon Kawk & Ibbs, 2002, pp. 153-154). The organization has much to gain from the leader who gives vision and direction, but also from the manager who handles the day-to-day problems of uncertainty (Lunenburg, 2011, p.1).


Style: Transactional versus Transformational

When evaluating potential goals both leaders and managers want an admirable

outcome. Transactional and transformational leadership are two opposing leadership styles. Mangers implement the transactional leadership style; which is characterized by being contingent on rewarding employees for achieving goals, for example receiving a paycheck. A transactional style is very much how it sounds; it is a transaction between the manager and the individual or team. The manager is most interested in completing the transaction, or making sure what needs to get done that day is the top priority; rather than fulfilling the needs of the overall individual or team. Fundamentally, transactional leaders develop interactions or arrangements with their followers, indicating what the followers will receive if they do something right as well as wrong. Transactional leaders work within their group cultures following existing rulebooks, processes, and standards (Bass & Avolio, 1993, p. 112).

While these are important characteristics of management, transformational leadership induces an interest in excellence that goes beyond focusing on the work method (Borland, Kane, & Burton, 2014, p. 26). In the transformational model of leadership, leaders release individual potential through empowerment and development of supporters or followers (Swanwick & McKimm, 2011, p 10). This idea of transformational leadership is tied to “going above and beyond,” while transactional leadership creates the idea of the average manager. By innovating and satisfying organizational culture, transformational leaders build on people and their skills. They manufacture excellence on the assumptions that everyone has a unique purpose, are trustworthy, and are purposeful in their work.


Complex problems are handled with the least amount of priority by transformational leaders.

Teams: Forming versus Supervising

Leaders identify the different leadership styles and skills within a team. A team

cannot have too many people with the same expertise set. Leaders acknowledge and foster teams based on strengths and weaknesses of all its individuals. For example, matching a good leader with the ability to see the long-term goals of the future would work well with someone who sees the more short-term and day-to-day responsibility. Having people with different strengths and weaknesses helps reach the complete and cohesive vision. A manager may take on the supervisorial role of the teams, assessing their progress on a tactical level. Although the very perception of teamwork suggests a group working together as equals, in some teams, managers have an unusual degree of power or authority comparative to other members of the team (Edmondson, 2003, p. 1424). Organizations should be careful to balance innovation and action on a team. When there are too many leaders on one team, they may innovate great ideas but lack the clarity to bring them to fruition. Contrary to leaders, managers tend to focus on the day-to-day opportunities and too many managers on one team may get bogged down (Fauerbach, 2014, paras 6-7).

Perspective: Short-term versus Long-term

Change is the fundamental core of leadership. Leadership focuses on improvement

and is future focused. Leaders identify needed change and engage in finding the resources to move forward toward a future vision. In the management process, there is consistency and stability. Management is rooted in in directing, coordinating, and making sure there is


constancy and order (Dye, 2014, p. 68). In the clinical world, physicians may take on a leader role or a manager role. These positions come with different responsibilities. In the clinical role, “physicians plan, organize, direct, and control” (Dye, 2014). When reviewing the role of physician managers remember; ‘we lead people and manage things.’ For example, managers in the clinical setting will monitor for safety and quality of patient care. They oversee documentation, coordinate staff schedule and activities, handle complaints, address behavior issues. These are very methodical tasks. When there is a problem it is addressed and corrected. Managers fix problems very quickly and are focused on the short- term outcomes. When discussing leadership roles for physicians in a clinical setting, the role requires, “a longer-term view and the ability to provide alternatives” (Dye, 2014). When a leader addresses making change the plan for action is much more complex. The leader realizes addressing issues and implementing significant change could take months or years. When promoting changes in an organization leaders do need to respect the past; use it for inspiration, instruction, and identification of past intentions and outcomes.

Needs: Goals versus Vision

Leaders visualize what they want to see as possible and use this inspiration to encourage other to turn their vision into reality. They think beyond what is happening right

now and see the bigger picture. They realize that working together on a team will accomplish a lot more than individuals working alone. For example, Amazon, Inc. has used their vision to become an international leader in the e-commerce market. In an interview with Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, he talks about leading for the long-term objective. Bezos (2013) admits that the first couple years of starting a company requires the,


“willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time.” He goes on to exchange his thoughts about his selection of people to work with. He says he wants people who wake up in the morning and are thinking about the customer and how to invent on behalf of the customer. He is rallying people together to accomplish his vision. He attributes a lot of his success to have an explorer mentality rather than a conqueror mentality.

Managers in some cases concentrate on setting standards, measuring progress, and achieving goals. They control situations in the workplace to reach and exceed their objectives. Sears Holdings CEO, Eddie Lampert, initiated closing eight Sears and 35 Kmart stores as of July 7, 2017. In updates about transforming Sears Holdings, Lampert discusses a structural way to decrease store sizes and save money. His vision of being an integrated retailer focused on quality member experiences is under shadowed by his focus on the business model, objectives and goals. He explains the fight for many years to return unprofitable stores to a good position and save jobs. As a result, they have been forced to absorb losses in the process. They have faced reduced vendor support and this challenge is making it hard to improve their performance. Lampert (2017) remains optimistic stating, “we are making progress on our transformation and are committed to take further action to unlock value from our assets and realign our business model to build the integrated retailer of the future focused on delivering outstanding member experiences.” Unalike to Amazon, Sears Holdings is not incorporating how to get vendors (followers) to believe in the overall vision. Vendor’s support is something that he identified as a crucial part of keeping the business alive and running.


Conflict Management: Avoidance versus Uses

In conflict management, managers are known to avoid conflict while leaders use

conflict to motivate others. A manager is often the first person to go to with a problem. They are then expected to come back with a solution. Charles Handy, a Professor at the London Business School, identified four steps in which a manager handles a problem. The first step is to identify the symptoms, then diagnose the origin of the problem, next decide the most appropriate management course, and last commence the remedial process. In his observations, he found that managers would often leave out a step and underlying issues were not addressed. He concluded that management roles are often about authority and getting things done on time, rather than being about the people (Swanwick & McKimm, 2011, p.6).

A leader will use conflict to motivate others to rally together for a solution. For example, in India, Gandhi motivated people to fight for their rights. He as a leader, walked shoulder to shoulder with them, because he could not fight the battle alone nor could he just stand by and avoid the problem. He did this so India could achieve independence in 1947. “His vision became everyone’s dream and ensured that the country’s push for independence was unstoppable. The world needs leaders like him who can think beyond problems, have a vision, and inspire people to convert challenges into opportunities” (Nayar, 2013, para. 8).


Risk Taking: Embracing versus Avoiding

Leaders are willing to take risks even if it means failing. For a leader failure could be

one step closer to success. Leaders will often make difficult decisions if they think it will be a benefit to the company. They are comfortable restricting the organization or offering new products on their company (Fauerbach, 2014, para. 2). They may be less likely to make a plan of action, unlike a manager. Not all leaders are managers, so it can be perceived that low-power individuals would also be less likely to feel that they have something to lose. If they are in a powerless position, they may be willing to do what ever it takes to change the situation. Leaders promote change, which in turn can lead to risk taking behavior (Anderson & Galinsky, 2006, p. 512).

Managers work to minimize risk. They want to have complete control so they avoid risk whenever possible. Managers categorize decision situations into opportunities and threats. They see the controllable situations as opportunities and uncontrollable situations (risks) as threats (Krueger & Dickson, 1994, p. 387). To avoid such risk, managers devise a plan before taking a risk. They always try to act in the best interest of the company. It is important to them that they recognize potential hazards and follow a process. A good example is tech companies who, “require potentially risky, long- term investments, while projects that are less revolutionary, but more prudent, can be more enticing to stakeholders. The trick is to find a balance between big picture and day-to-day thinkers,” (Fauerbach, 2014) or in other words, finding a balance between leaders versus managers.


It is clear that organizations, companies, and teams need to find a balance between leadership and management for overall success. Leadership and management are effectively different and they can be completely separate from the other. This is shown in through the history of leadership and management. Leadership has evolved through time but have always focused on promoting change. Management has evolved less through history and always focused on controlling and directing everything from conflicts to budgets. When leaders and managers process conflict they have two different strategies. Leaders create visions while managers make a strategic plan. Their leaderships styles differ between transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Leaders and managers want excellent outcomes when it comes to goal achievement. The leader approaches this with a focus on the people they are leading to their vision or goal. On the other hand, the manager is focused on the goal achievement above all else, including the people who are making the goal achievable. In teams, leaders work to identify people with different skill sets and how to utilize them. Managers use their time for supervision of the teams. In an organization, the leader is motivated by the long-term benefits of their vision, while the manager is motivated by the day-to-day objectives. Leaders visualize what they want to accomplish, knowing that it will take a team effort. Managers think less about a vision and instead set standards to achieve goals. Leaders and managers handle conflict differently. Leaders do not take on complex problems which are a low priority in their minds. They use conflict to motivate others. Managers will avoid conflict whenever the opportunity arises. This is one reason managers do not like to take risks. While leaders love risk when it means coming one step closer to success. For these reasons amongst others, as expressed by Ellis & Abbott (2013), “not all managers are leaders and not all leaders are managers.”

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