Differences between leadership and management | Sunday Observer

Differences between leadership and management

16 January, 2022

Good leaders are inevitability for the success of any organisation. Starting from the top, a company needs senior or junior managers, or even supervisors with leadership qualities to succeed. Personality and the leadership play a more important role in business success than the subject knowledge of a person.

Leadership and management are two terms used commonly and interchangeably in business.

In general terms, people accept managers who are leaders.  The ‘Manager’ is a conferred designation with vested legitimate power where the leadership is a state of mind and attitude that runs much deeper as a concept. Hence, effective leaders most often turn into successful managers.  

However, it is important to understand that management is an administrative skill on supporting team members during work hours while leadership is a more conceptual approach to their professional and personal lives of them.  

Management is at all times an operational aspect; it’s about technically managing the team with established priorities, goals, operational targets, and many other key criteria related to the staff. However, the function of a manager with good leadership skills and qualities is, apart from managing skills, more of a coach, mentor, or even a spiritual guide who draws natural respect from subordinates. Such managers maintain energy, enthusiasm, dynamism, and good spirits in a team. Hence, leaders become the point of strength in an organisation for upholding stability.   

Efficient managers 

Management is about dealing with everyday work. Efficient managers introduce clarity, provide management information and feedbacks, develop competencies, monitor day-to-day activities, and navigate the general operation. They provide the assistance needed to make an impact in team members’ occupational roles. 

Yet, a good leader is more concerned about the future and inspires others to achieve results. They understand the big picture, the vision and the mission of the organisation and connect them to the broader set of organisational objectives. Hence, a combination of the two criteria, management and leadership, are a formidable force that can provide the best outcome for a business organisation. 

In a business context, leaders and managers have many similar characteristics. Even so, the key difference is that they approach situations in different ways. In reality, leaders and managers aim to motivate people to achieve goals and provide the desired results. Naturally, managers are more focused on the operational aspects and short-term goals. However, a leader-manager concentrates on inspiring, encouraging, and empowering people to accomplish things. 

What are the key differences between a typical manager and a good leader? Managers embrace the process and hunt for control and stability by seeking solutions for issues in quickest possible manner.  On the contrary, leaders tolerate time constraints to arrive in more futuristic decisions beneficial to the long-term goal. Hence, the best option for an organisation is to seek people with both skills.

Rationality and domination

The managerial culture promotes rationality and domination. Managers direct their energy towards goals, resources, organisational structure, subordinates, and superiors. Their duties and responsibilities mostly revolve around problem solving, predominantly on a short-term basis. Managers expect their subordinates to achieve the best possible results to contribute to the organisation. Hence, the business fraternity invariably expects problem solving skills from their managers.

Leadership from this perspective is a realistic effort to direct focus to fulfil an overall task assigned. While managers’ task is to make the employees operate efficiently at all levels, the basic leadership qualities and skills such as persistence, intelligence, empathy, tolerance, and good judgment will help the managers to become successful leaders.   

No matter how competent the managers are, their leadership can slow down processes if their vision is limited in relation to generating value in work. Instead of motivating workers based on broader desires, if a manager is narrow in purpose and the imaginative capacity is inadequate, workplace conflicts can surface. Hence, the need for competent managers with leadership greatness is required for a successful result.

Can there be a difference between a born leader and a made leader? What is the relevance of this to the managerial ability? There are persons who possess some of the skills and qualities of a leader.

Examples of such leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Napoleon, and many others are plentiful in the world history. These types of leaders are natural and sharpen their leadership ability easily throughout their lives.

Nevertheless, even those who do not possess such natural leadership qualities can be developed into successful managers. Long ago, people always flocked around those with visible commanding abilities and followed them.

Over time, with population growth and the evolution of the business world, the number of people with such born abilities was inadequate to manage organisations.

The ultimate conclusion is that recent scientific studies suggest that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned.

Although a person with born leadership qualities can be trained to be a successful manager easily, those who do not possess natural leadership traits can be moulded into a successful manger with proper leadership training.

This is excellent news for organisations as they do not have to go in search of mangers with scarce natural leadership skills. 

In business enterprises, managers at different levels take over the leadership role related to organisational goals through subordinates. The effectiveness of management and control is critically important to the survival and growth of an organisation. Hence, organisations confer a high premium on management-leadership effectiveness. 

However, the possession of personal qualities or traits does not completely guarantee effectiveness in an organisation. Effective leadership also requires certain basic traits in persons who assume the leadership role. Although they are prerequisites, to maintain and increase management effectiveness, the managers must possess administrative skills and knowledge as well. 

Decision-making process

In business, managers prefer to work with people and relate to them according to the role they play in a sequence of events or in a decision-making process. However, most often, leaders relate to the same people in a more intuitive and empathetic manner. The distinction between the two is that while managers simply focus on how work related things are done, leaders concentrate on what the events and decisions mean to their subordinates.

People, even those who are in business, often mistake leadership and management as the same when they are different in reality. The leaders let others follow them, while managers get people to simply work for them.

Management is more about administering people and situations in general operation in an organisation.

Leadership is about motivating people to grasp and believe in a vision set forth by the organisation to achieve a common goal.

Therefore, business organisations need efficient managers with leadership skills and traits. The leadership and management must go hand in hand to exist in tandem as the two concepts are closely inter-related and complementary to each other.