A Brief Review of the Relationship Between Leadership and Management

June 23, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Although some people tend to equate leadership and management, they are not synonymous. Leadership involves inspiring people to achieve a common goal. Management is the implementation and administration of the process to achieve the common goal. While the two are closely linked, leadership is one of many managerial functions, and organizational performance is a result of the quality of leadership among that organization’s managers. Managers at all hierarchical levels have a leadership role to perform. The manager’s responsibility as a leader normally includes motivating team members to do effective and efficient work. This implies that leadership is a social talent, one of obtaining the best effort of the organization’s members. Through leadership, a manager secures the cooperation of others in accomplishing an objective. An inept or dysfunctional leader can deteriorate the morale and efficiency of an organization. Conversely, strong leadership can transform a lackluster group into a viable, aggressive, and successful organization.

Managers are in a leadership role because they can influence the behavior of members of the formal work group. This does not mean that managers are always effective in the role of leadership. A manager’s leadership can be measured by the contribution of the group towards the organization’s goals. For example, a software engineering manager’s leadership can be measured by how quickly a product is taken from concept to market; a process commonly termed “time to market.” Other such measurements include increased profit margins and customer satisfaction.

Generally, there are two types of leaders in organizations: formal and informal. Formal leadership is exerted by persons appointed to or elected to positions of formal authority in organizations. Authority, which exists in the formal organization, is the right to issue directives and expend resources. A first-level manager is an example of a person who is appointed to a position of formal leadership. The first-level manager influences others in the formal work group simply by the nature of the position held.

Informal leadership is exerted by persons who emerge as influential over others because of special skills or resources they possess to meet the needs of a work unit or its members. In other words, the informal leader of a group is the one seen by the group as most capable of satisfying its needs. The authority of the informal leader can be removed, reduced, or increased, depending on the group’s perceived progress towards its goals. The informal leader’s authority may be threatened by the emergence of different or additional goals.

It is important to note that managers (formal leaders) may or may not be informal leaders. The role of a manager and the role of an informal leader are different. In an informal leadership situation, the leader must know the needs of the group and must be seen by the group as being the person most capable of meeting those needs. The source of authority for the leader is the group being led. In most organizations, a manager’s (formal leader’s) source of authority does not come from the group being managed; it comes from higher management. This implies that the source of authority for a manager comes from vertical rather than horizontal organizational means.

In conclusion, it is important to differentiate between leadership and management. The two are not synonymous. Leaders lead people and managers manage situations. Managers should realize that leadership is a function of management and that the title of “Manager” does not mean that he or she is a leader by default.

Dr. Milton Mattox is a senior-level business executive and technologist who has worked with some of America’s most acclaimed companies. An expert in software engineering, information technology, and quality process management, he continues to practice the process methodologies outlined in his new book, “RAIDers of the Lost Art: Reinventing the Art of Business Process Excellence,” to successfully increase return on investment. For more information, reference http://www.miltonmattox.com.

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