Friday, September 30, 2011

Leadership and Management: Similarities and Differences

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

The task of a great leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been...Leaders must invoke alchemy of great vision. Those leaders who do not are ultimately judged failures, even though they may be popular at the moment-
Henry Kissinger

The terms “leadership” and “management”, according to many people's definitions, carry many connotations and is often used interchangeably in sentences and phrases (2009). In this essay, I will define leadership and management while endeavoring to highlight the main similarities and differences the two positions hold in societal and organizational levels. Depending on position of power, a leader is one, regardless of sex or gender, who sits on the top position of an institution or organization with the sole aim of motivating and inspiring a class of people working to achieve certain goals and objectives. Leadership, according to Blunt (2008), entails “...building value into the lives of others coming behind you, be they your colleagues at work or your young ones at home—or both”. Successful leadership in the 21st century, as elaborated by Hickman (1998), can be accomplished in any organization by ensuring the existence of maneuverability in times of adversity; offering exceptional quality customer service, capturing new ground and avenues, and gathering required resources.

Likewise, leadership is about inculcating diversity, injecting a sense of inspiration, enthusiasm, optimism, and commitment and finally, it is all about taking the mantle. Through hard work and determination and want of success, leaders act as role models by preparing followers for the long road to prosperity. Leaders are known for organizational reorientation, structural downsizing, meeting goals and deadlines. To be able to influence others, a leader must be full of energy. Clawson (2009) notes that “leadership is about managing energy, first in yourself and then in those around you”. Organizations usually experience dwindling performances because their leadership is likely to be weak.

The world of leadership has its own troubles especially when those at the top of the ladder jostle for power as was the case with Apple in 1983, when newcomer CEO John Sculley, former president of Pepsi-Cola, ran into disagreements with Steve Jobs, the legendary co-founder and Chairman of Apple (Bartol, 1991). Steve Jobs, the man in whose garage the first Apple computer was assembled, was forced to leave and pave way for the resuscitation of computer sales that had slumped nationally. Leaders use power to affect the behavior of others. At the same time they are endowed with legitimate power for controlling organizations and reward power to influence. Leaders usually apply coercive power to overcome those who fail to engage in desired behaviors. To be admired by others, leaders espouse referent power. Likewise they are endowed with expert power and information power.

Some variations in modern leadership include laissez-faire, transactional, and transformational styles. In Laissez-faire or passive leadership, the leader avoids responsibility. It is an aspect that implies self-management in which the leader shuns setting goals and clarification of expectations. Such a leader intervenes in organizational priorities only when problems occur. Transactional leadership involves a leader's demand for exceptional performance. This is a distinct leadership style where the leader is known to be observant of mistakes, irregularities, and performances (Renee, Frans, & Vasi, 2008). On the other hand, with keen observation and research on transformational leadership, Renee, Frans, & Vasi (2008), perceive transformational leadership to be all about idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration.

Management, on the other hand, is the art of “planning, organizing, and controlling a business activity” (Kroenke, 1992). Ricketts (2009) has a different description for management. To her, management is “to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of a group or organization”. Management is usually in charge of the supervision of either a homogeneous or heterogeneous workgroup. In homogenous workgroup, all employees are of the same level and mostly receive the same training and skills. In contrast, a heterogeneous workgroup involve varieties of roles and job descriptions. In essence, management enjoys inferior position of power and is responsible to the leader. By observing shared beliefs, traditions, values, and cultures specific to workers, work is reinforced under management guidance by observing workgroup norms.
Generally, management which is task-oriented requires knowledge of personal traits that include mastering of conceptual skills, technical skills, and human skills. Conceptual skill entails proficiency in certain types of jobs or activities. The ability to decipher ideas and concepts enable management to overcome barriers that hinder focusing on the big picture from a broader perspective. With a good understanding of technical skills, management is better-off rectifying technical and mechanical malfunctioning systems. Important paraphernalia for management is hands-on experience. Knowing how to fix defective industrial components help alleviate breakdown of company operations. If engaged by a software engineering firm, having an understanding of troubleshooting computer software is considered an added advantage for those wielding power in managerial positions. Also called “people skills”, human skills is the art of working with people to achieve required objectives. By working with people the manager remains alert at all times and aware of employees' needs and perspectives.

In conclusion, leadership and management are two powerful structures that exert considerable influence in the workplace. Management is responsible for producing order and consistency while leadership is specifically for the most part responsible for bringing in change and movement. Often, a leader is one who enjoys multiple roles, plays multiple games, has multiple characteristics, and serves multiple people for the sake of need of achievement. In government, heads of states employ visionary perspectives to attain levels of success and achieve desired goals. Burke (2011) contends that leaders are more personal while managers are more impersonal about goals. Regardless of the influential position of a leader, one thing is certain: having the necessary skills of management and being part of the workforce that make operations possible.

References

Article: Blunt, R. (2008). The Successes of Leaders. Retrieved from http://govleaders.org/successes_print.htm

Hickman, G. R. (1998). Leading Organizations: Perspectives for a New Era. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Clawson, J. G. (2009). Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle Rive, New Jersey.

Bartol, K. M. & Martin, D. C. (1991). Management. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.

Kroenke, D. (1992). Management Information Systems. Mitchell McGraw-Hill Inc., Watsonville, CA

Article: Eeden, V. & Cilliers, F. & Deventer V. V. (2008). Leadership Styles and Associated Personality Traits: Support for the Conceptualization of Transactional and Transformational Leadership. South African Journal of Psychology; Jun. 2008, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p253-267, 15p, 7

Article: Ricketts, K. G. (2009). Leadership vs. Management. Retrieved from http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/elk1/elk1103/elk1103.pdf

Burke, W. W. (2011). Organization Change: Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA.
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