Leader and a manager

This essay defines the term leader and manager and gives detail of the functions and qualities of each. Examples are given to illustrate the difference between these terms. Arguments will be presented which acknowledge the different roles of managers and leaders, highlighting the different views of experts. Discussion will be based upon researched opinions of experts in the field of management and leadership, showing that both roles, although different in function, are essential to an organisation.

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‘Leadership is a process of motivating other people to act in particular ways in order to achieve specific goals’. The word leader derives from words meaning path or road and suggests the importance of guidance on a journey. (Hannagan. T. 2002) It has been said that many great leaders in history are born ‘leaders’ as though leadership is an inherited quality. John Adair in Great Leaders 1989 states that leadership potentially can be developed but does have to be their in the first place.

There are two types of leaders: strategic and operational. The strategic leader envisages the company’s future and the resources necessary to create it. The operational leaders’ role blurs with that of management in that it is responsible for implementing the vision. Both strategic and operational leaders need to undertake the following activities to build teams and to ensure organisational success. They are: selecting talent, motivating people, coaching, and building trust. (Addison – Wesley, 1997)

Irwin/McGraw-Hill theorise that there are a number of styles of leadership, the authoritarian, who make all organisational decisions with little reference to their subordinates. This type of leadership is not common in today’s business world as they lead to resentment and frustration in the workforce. Conversely, there are the democrats who consult with the workforce before implementing any new systems.

The democrats are popular with the workforce but it is a very time consuming process in getting a decision made. This can be a real hindrance in today’s fast moving business world. The third style is Laissez-faire where the leader sets objectives and employees have to decide how to achieve them using the available resources. This results in high levels of enthusiasm for the task in hand but can sometimes rely too much on the skills of the workforce. The fourth style identified is that of the paternalists who take an autocratic approach when dealing with the employees. Employees are likely to be consulted before any decision is made but it is very unlikely that their feedback will be taken it to account. (Irwin, McGraw-Hill, 2000)

Current thoughts are that managers are principally administrators who write business plans, set budgets and monitor progress. Where as leaders on the other hand get organisations and people to change. Good leaders energise a good organisation. (Maccoby. M. 2000) Where as Pascale surmises that Managers think incrementally, whilst leaders think radically. “Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing” This means that managers tend to follow correct procedures while leaders use their own intuition to benefit the company. (Pascale. P. 1990)

To a certain extent managerial skills differ to that of leadership depending on the seniority of the manager in the organisation. The main aim of a manager is to maximise the output of the organisation through administrative implementation. Managerial activities were described in the 1920s by Fayol and his classifications remain broadly unchanged today. They are; forecasting, planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. Therefore the manager will decide what needs to be achieved, and formulate a plan to meet this goal. The manager will then organise his workforce to provide the appropriate skills and the necessary resources to complete the task. During the course of the process the manager will monitor and evaluate the progress and redirect his team as necessary.