Leadership and Management
- Last Updated: Tuesday, 06 April 2021
Two words which are sometimes used interchangeably are leadership and management. That’s unfortunate, because there are many leaders that are not managers, and many managers that are certainly not leaders.
This article continues to focus on the leadership aspects of career development, so in this article we’re going to take a closer look at the differences between leadership and management.
The term management is loosely defined as the act of managing, supervising, or controlling. The word “controlling” is really an important component of that definition. An employee can manage a process, and another employee. But the real question is whether or not this manager is thought to possess leadership qualities.
Now some people may argue that there really isn’t any difference between leadership and management, and they can cite some pretty compelling examples; one of which might go something like this:
Anyone in management is automatically a leader because they are in control of another employee. They can give orders, and the employees reporting to them are expected to carry out those orders or suffer the consequences. The manager holds position power over those they supervise, and because of that reporting relationship they have become leaders.
This is actually a good argument, and one that is hard to refute. However, articles on leadership styles also talk about the coercive leader. Some of these more aggressive styles work pretty effectively when a turnaround is needed; but lower morale over time. If the manager is using their position power over followers, they’re exhibiting the coercive style.
The true test of a leader’s skill is the ability to adapt to different work environments. Going back to the example, if the manager used this style under the appropriate conditions, they might have been very effective. In the long term, none of these more aggressive styles are effective, and soon the followers may decide they’ve had enough, and they may look for employment elsewhere.
The term leadership on the other hand, is used to describe the process, or style, the manager uses to complete tasks or achieve objectives. This article started off by stating that not all managers were leaders. Certainly there are some very ineffective managers that do not exhibit any of the true leadership styles.
These individuals are put in a role of responsibility and decide not to communicate with their employees or support them in their efforts. Thankfully, the incompetence of these managers is usually recognized quickly and they are reassigned, or asked to quietly leave the company.
At the next level of managers, are individuals capable of exhibiting the more aggressive leadership styles discussed earlier. While success might be theirs in the short term, eventually the organization evolves and they realize their formula for success in the past no longer applies to the current situation.
Finally, there are individuals skilled in the art of Situational Leadership™. They have been trained or have learned through life’s lessons to identify the leadership style that is most effective under varying circumstances. They have the ability to flex their style, and can be effective in almost any role, and under a variety of conditions.
This article is going to end the same way it started by stating that all managers are not leaders. There are some that show various degrees of leadership skills, but just because someone has granted them the title of “manager,” or given them the opportunity to supervise another person does not make them a leader.
Possessing leadership qualities transcends a mere title that someone happens to hold. Employees that are saddled with a manager that is not a leader need to have patience. Eventually, this manager’s incompetence will be recognized, and they will get what they deserve.
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