This is an excerpt from "Leadership Perspectives" an unpublished paper by Brent Duncan.
Discussions on leadership typically get bogged down by a debate between the differences of leadership and management. Some authors argue that leadership and management are diametrically opposed concepts (Bennis & Nanus, 1985) while other authors use the terms interchangeably (Yukl, 2010). In this section, I will consider competing perspectives to understand better the relationship between leadership and management, and will conclude by suggesting that effective leaders need to be good managers and that effective managers need to be good leaders.
Introducing the expression “managers are people who do things right, and leaders are people who do the right thing”, Bennis and Nanus (1985) asserted that an individual cannot be both a leader and a manager because leaders and managers have fundamentally different values and personalities. This encapsulated the classic distinction that implies that leaders are inherently good while managers are essentially cold-hearted (Zaleznik, 1977). This perspective sees the manager as stable, orderly, efficient, impersonal, risk averse, and short-term focused. In comparison, leaders are flexible, innovative, adaptive, caring, and long-term focused.
Although scholars and professionals alike quote the Bennis and Nanus (1985) definition to the point of cliché, it has serious limitations, as follows:
Other scholars have varying definitions of leadership and management but “do not assume that the leader and the manager are different people” (Yukl, 2010, p. 7). Mintzberg (1973, in Yukl, 2010) argued that the leadership role pervades all other managerial roles. Kotter (1990) saw management as a process for creating order and predictability, and leadership as a process for driving changes. Though he saw them as different functions, Kotter argued that both are necessary and that the situation determines the proper balance of leadership and management. For example, smaller organizations might need a larger infusion of leadership; but as they grow they need more management. The more dynamic and uncertain the external environment, the more leadership becomes necessary for driving continuous adaptation and transformation.
From a managerial perspective, Gary Dessler (2002) proposed that a leader is a person with managerial and personal power who can influence others to willingly perform actions and achieve goals beyond what the followers could achieve on their own. The manager’s influence is limited by the authority of the position and the ability to reward and punish people for progressing toward organizational goals. The key difference Dessler suggests is in motivating others to perform willingly versus rewarding and punishing people to perform. Though different applications of power, Dessler argues that leadership and management must be intertwined to be effective. Without influence and inspiration from leadership, organizing and planning may be ineffective. Similarly, regardless of how inspirational a leader may be, management proficiencies and functions are necessary for planning, structuring, and controlling of human activity.
Some authors put aside the differences between management and leadership, and use the terms interchangeably because managers are “people who occupy positions in which they are expected to perform a leadership role” (Yukl, 2010, p. 8). Managers assert influence over people and processes; as far as leadership is an influence process, managers serve a leadership role. The manager’s ability to perform the functions of his or her job--planning, organizing, and controlling activities toward common goals--can be limited by his or her ability to influence people and processes. Similarly, a leader’s effectiveness may be limited by his or her ability to plan, organize, and control human activity toward common goals.
Managers must have leadership competence, and leaders should have management skills--or the ability to engage others who can plan, organize, and control collective action toward the leader’s vision. Platitudes that assert leadership and management are diametrically opposed concepts promote an inaccurate stereotype that tarnishes understanding of both while diminishing the potential effectiveness of those who adopt the axiom as a guiding philosophy.
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