- Amruta Bhaskar
- Sep 15, 2020
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What is the ideal way to develop leadership? Every society provides its answer to this question, and each, in groping for answers, defines its deepest concerns about the purposes, distributions, and uses of power. The business has contributed its answer to the leadership question by evolving a new breed called the manager. Simultaneously, the business has established a new power ethic that favours collective over individual leadership, the cult of the group over that of personality. While ensuring the competence, control, and the balance of power among groups with the potential for rivalry, managerial leadership, unfortunately, does not necessarily ensure imagination, creativity, or ethical behaviour in guiding the destinies of corporate enterprises.
Leadership inevitably requires using power to influence the thoughts and actions of other people. Power in the hands of an individual entails human risks: first, the risk of equating power with the ability to get immediate results; second, the risk of ignoring the many different ways people can legitimately accumulate power; and third, the risk of losing self-control in the desire for power. The need to hedge these risks accounts in part for the development of collective leadership and the managerial ethic. Consequently, an inherent conservatism dominates the culture of large organizations. In The Second American Revolution, John D. Rockefeller III describes the conservatism of organizations:
“An organization is a system, with a logic of its own, and all the weight of tradition and inertia. The deck is stacked in favour of the tried and proven way of doing things and against the taking of risks and striking out in new directions.”1
Out of this conservatism and inertia, organizations provide succession to power through the development of managers rather than individual leaders. Ironically, this ethic fosters a bureaucratic culture in business, supposedly the last bastion protecting us from the encroachments and controls of bureaucracy in government and education.
A managerial culture emphasizes rationality and control. Whether his or her energies are directed toward goals, resources, organization structures, or people, a manager is a problem solver. The manager asks: “What problems have to be solved, and what are the best ways to achieve results so that people will continue to contribute to this organization?” From this perspective, leadership is simply a practical effort to direct affairs; and to fulfil his or her task, a manager requires that many people operate efficiently at different levels of status and responsibility. It takes neither genius nor heroism to be a manager, but rather persistence, tough-mindedness, hard work, intelligence, analytical ability, and perhaps most important, tolerance and goodwill.
Another conception of leadership, however, attaches almost mystical beliefs to what a leader is and assumes that only great people are worthy of the drama of power and politics. Here leadership is a psychodrama in which a brilliant, lonely person must gain control of himself or herself as a precondition for controlling others. Such an expectation of leadership contrasts sharply with the mundane, practical, and yet important conception that leadership is managing work that other people do.
The biggest most fundamental overlap between leadership and management - there are many individual points - is that good leadership always includes responsibility for managing.
Lots of the managing duties may be delegated through others, but the leader is responsible for ensuring there is appropriate and effective management for the situation or group concerned.
The opposite is not the case. It would be incorrect to suggest that management includes a responsibility to lead, in the true sense of both terms.
We, therefore, may see management as a function or responsibility within leadership, but not vice-versa.
Incidentally - Where a manager begins to expand his or her management responsibility into leadership areas, then the manager becomes a leader too. The manager is leading as well as managing.
Beyond this fundamental overlap - that leadership is a much bigger and deeper role than management - a useful way to understand the differences between leadership and management is to consider some typical responsibilities of leading and managing, and to determine whether each is more a function of leading or of managing.
Of course, by inflating the meaning of the word 'managing', or reducing the significance of the meaning of the word 'leading', it is possible to argue that many of these activities listed below could fit into either category, but according to general technical appreciation, it is reasonable to categorise the following responsibilities as being either:
To emphasise the differences, the two lists of responsibilities are arranged in pairs, showing the typical management 'level' or depth of responsibility, compared to the corresponding leadership responsibility for the same area of work.
The responsibilities are in no particular order and the numbering is simply to aid the matching of one item to another as you consider the management perspective versus the leadership perspective.