The question of which is more important between having a good leader or having a good manager has been a continuous debate in the business world due to the differences in character and reasoning of the two individuals. This essay aims at comparing the differences and similarities of the two to gauge, which is the most important.
The question of ‘what leadership is’ is critical in assessing the characteristics of a good leader. According to Shackleton (1996), leadership entails three vital components: group interactions, influence and goal achievement. This means that any good leader should possess the capability to influence the behaviors of other people around him to act and perform actions that he wishes them to, the capability to assess and examine the context of a group to determine their effectiveness and importance and lastly a group goal has to be the main influence and drive behind his actions. Therefore, according to Shackelton (1996) leadership can be defined as the process of influencing group members towards the achievement of a common goal. It is also important to note that the followers influence the leadership decisions made in a group. A good leader is therefore one who is capable of inspiring, influencing and guiding others to participate in the common goals of an organization. (Cited in Morell & Capparell, 2001)
On the other hand, Theodore Levitt, an American economist and professor at Howard Business School states that management comprises of the ability to rationally assess a situation and analyze the systematic goals and purposes; analysis and assessment of the available resources in a business, the design direction, organization, and control of the activities and tasks needed in order to achieve the goals while rewarding the people performing the activities considerably. (Cited in Zalezink, 1975) This means that it is up to the managers in organizations to decide the direction the organization is headed to while identifying the risks and problems that they might face while trying to achieve the goals and the requirements in dealing with in them to ensure the wellbeing of the organization's employee while striving to achieve the set goals. Managers can be referred to as "task makers" in a business, according to Kotterman (2006), since orders are passed down and acted upon in a hierarchical manner (Cited in Bohoris & Vorria, 2008). For example, in a large organization the top level management (CEO) might pass an order to a specific department in the organization with an aim of increasing the companies sales thus his orders are received by the top manager in the department who forwards it the low level managers and ultimately the orders are carried out by the front line management who delegate them based on efficiency and effectiveness of the employees under him. It is therefore identified that managers in an organization reduce chaos even in the most complex organizational structure by following a hierarchy thus achieving the goals set effectively this can also be achieved by a leader who possesses the same skills thus his implementation would be even much better based on his natural leadership skills.
The following is the comparison between management and leadership where the key distinctions and similarities between the two are identified and compared to gauge the importance of each in an organization thus deducing the most important of the two.
Management is perceived to be more formal and scientifically efficient compared to leadership since it relies on the universal skills which can be acquired through learning and studying them such as planning, controlling budgeting etc. Since these skills are universal, they can be applied and implemented in various situations making management an explicit set of organizational tools and techniques that is highly based on reasoning and planning. Leadership on the other hand involves the capability of an individual to have a vision of what a business can achieve and mobilizing the employees and other people to work in order to achieve his vision. Leadership qualities are considered natural and hence mostly cannot be attained through learning. Leadership hence requires specific qualities, teamwork and cooperation from a large network of people who are constantly motivated and influenced by the leader through persuasion in order to achieve the goals and visions of a business.
Many researchers argue that a good manager should be a leader while it is not necessarily vital for a good leader to be a good manager since management is perceived as a more comprehensible and acceptable quality in contrast to leadership. Due to this, leadership is perceived as a facet of management leading to its inclusion in the management qualities of a good manager. The role of a manager in any business is to maximize the output of the business through administrative implementation thus leadership is a quality that they should possess although a manager cannot be entirely a leader.
According to Mullins (2007) a manager should be effective in the management of a business' resources in order to achieve utmost effectiveness and efficiency while ensuring resources are used sparingly but a leader should be in the organization to design and manage the management policy of the business, operation, control and manage the products and services being offered by the business. Mullins (2007) explains that the relationship between leadership and management are but two sides of the same coin and should accompany each other in order to achieve the goals and visions of a business with the utmost efficiency since possessing both qualities ensures that the resources in an organization are used sparingly while still maintaining the employees' trust through persuasion. Mullins’ argument is based on the shared qualities that good leaders and good manager share which include:
Stress management – Both should be able to handle stress in the organization and develop ways of reducing or getting over stress. It is not automatically achieved by being educated but has to be learned over time so as to reduce panic in case of a tough challenge and continue managing/leading the organization towards achieving its goals. This gives manager and leaders the capability to handle risks and challenges with a straight mind thus realizing the best possible way out.
Time management – Time is a considered as an un-renewable resource and once wasted cannot be recovered hence each manager and leader should possess the skills to handle time efficiently to ensure that tasks and activities are completed according to schedule hence the realization of the organizations goals in the required time frame. Time management skills can be learned hence managers and leaders should find a way to understand the importance of activities and prioritize their implementation thus achieving organized work performance and delay handling.
Conflict management – In each case, the leader and manger should be in a position to handle conflicts within the organization with minimal cost to the organization in terms of time, money and resources. Hence they should possess the capability of settling disputes in the organization by mentoring, counseling, training and/or other psychotherapy ways.
These qualities ensure that leaders and managers handle situations and challenges in the most effective way without incurring excessive cost in terms of resources and time.
The differences between the two can also be achieved by analyzing their roles in an organization and the qualities each requires to possess in order to achieve maximum efficiency and results thus deducing the most beneficial of the two.
Based on the interpersonal requirements that are required in order to achieve the role of a manager, a good manager should display the capabilities of being a figurehead, a leader and a liaison whereby he is needs to be perceived as an authority figure when performing both legal and social routine duties, be responsible of for the motivation, direction and appreciation of his subordinates and still maintain a network of reliable contact outside the organization to provide effective and reliable information and the supply of required resources. The aspect of leadership is an added advantage, which is naturally available to a good leader, and hence any good leader would be a good figurehead and liaison thus he would be more fit to run and manage an organization.
A good manager performs the informational role in an organization whereby he is able to monitor the performance, requirements and best decisions to make in the organization achieved by receiving relevant information and acting on it as required. He should also acts as a disseminator in that he is able to effectively transmit information received from the outside to the internal organization structure to aid in the achievement of the organization’s goals. He displays the qualities of a good spokes person in order to effectively transmit information in and out of the organization that will aid the company in achieving its goals through proper planning, actions and policies.
Management is meant to incorporate the decision role of the organization thus the manager is able to handle the roles of entrepreneurship, disturbance handler, negotiator and resource allocator role efficiently. Therefore a good manager is able to analyze the business and its environment for viable opportunities and hence initiate projects that will increase the sales and growth of the organization while still managing to handle negotiations regarding the business when needed. He is also in a position to handle unexpected risk and challenges that might face the company and hence allocate resources accordingly so that they are not misused.
On the other hand the roles of a leader can are mostly defined by the leadership and management skills that an individual possess thus to be good leader one must possess the following skills:
Self-confidence - This ensures that a leader can handle tough situations since he is self-assure and hence instills self-confidence in his team members by showing that he believes something is possible and hence the team works together to realize the goal. This is among the first leadership skill that researcher have identified in relation to being a good leader. Hence a good leader must possess self-confidence while a manager is not necessarily required to.
Humility - A good leader is humble and applies humility in his leadership approach by listening to suggestions from his team members in situations where they are required and in areas that the leader knows he is weak in. This is attributed to good leadership since managers commonly assume that they are learned and hence do not require suggestions from low-level employees.
Presentation skills - this entails the relationship between a leader and his followers/team members whereby a good leader should assess the influence each party has over the other, that is, how the followers influence the leadership style of the leaders and how the leaders decisions influence the followers. This is different from management in that in management, the influence is issued in a hierarchical order hence suggestions by low level management have little or no influence compared to top level managers.
From the above arguments, management and leadership can be clearly differentiated based on the qualities and roles and their importance to an organization leading to the conclusion that a good leader is more important than a good manager specifically due to the capability of attaining management skills as opposed to leadership skills. In conclusion, leaders are born not made while managers are created through attained education, based on this it is clear that having a good leader in an organization is far more advantageous that having a good manager.
- Bohoris, G. A., & Vorria, E. P. (2008). Leadership vs Management. Business Excellence/Per.
- Manikutty, S. (2005, May). Success and Succession in Family Firms: An Investigation into Changes in Managerial Practices with Generations. Family Enterprise Research Conference, Oregon.
- Morrell, M., & Capparell, S. (2001). Shackleton's way: leadership lessons from the great Antarctic explorer. Penguin.
- Mullins, L. J. (2007). Management and organisational behaviour. Pearson Education.
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