The words, leadership and management face a lot of confusion in today’s world. Most of the people don’t know the exact difference between the two.
As said by Mullins, “Management is about changing behaviour and making things happen. It is about developing people, working with them, reaching objectives and achieving results.” (Mullins 2013:421). Whereas on the other hand, “Leadership is a relationship through which one person influences as the behaviour or actions of other people.” (Mullins 2013:369).
The constant change in the working environment of an organisation demands more leadership qualities at the high level. “Effective leadership is a two way process that influences both individual and organisational performance. Leadership is related to motivation and interpersonal behaviour.” (Mullins 2013:369). Gone are the days when leadership was associated with command and control, these days it has lot to do with inspiration, vision and team-working.
Some of the key aspects which differentiate between leaders and managers as per key researches are:
- “Managers do things right whereas leaders do the right things”. (Mullins 2013)
- Management is an authoritative relationship whereas leading is an influential relationship.
- Management creates stability within an organisation while leadership creates change within the individuals as well as the organisation.
One should know different leadership styles in order to understand better. In 1939, a group of researchers led by psychologist Kurt Lewin set out to identify different styles of leadership (Cherry, 2012). This early study leads to the establishment of three major leadership styles which could be classified further. The three leadership styles are as discussed below:
This type of leadership defines a clear line between the leader and the employees. These autocratic leaders lay down specific instructions for a particular task without taking in any consultation. The decisions are made independently without the group work or consultation from the employees. Such type of leadership lack any creativity and innovation at work. This type of leadership is usually looked down upon as something quite negative in nature. Authoritarian leadership only works when the leader is quite knowledgeable about a particular task. (Cherry, 2012)
Participative or democratic leadership was found to be most efficient by Lewin. Leaders in this category were found to participate in the group, take inputs and offer guidance to the employees. Employees lead by a democratic leader were found to be more engaged, motivated and productive for work.
Laissez-Faire leadership also known as delegative leadership offer negligible instructions to their subordinates. As a result the employees under this type of leadership are the least productive as they are sometimes clueless about the work. They even tend to loose their interest and motivation for the work. These leaders leave the decision making process to the employees themselves. Delegative leadership can only be efficient if the group members are highly experienced and qualified else It proves to be quite catastrophic if the case is other way round. (Cherry, 2012).
Having argued about both the pros and cons of the three main leadership styles, it could be said that the best leader is the one who changes his leadership style as per the situation. “The best approach may vary according to circumstances and individual characterstics” (CMI, 2013). This is rightly said depending upon the criticality of the finance sector and the diverse teams involved in an organisation. A best leader is one who understands his employees and tailor his leadership as per the employee and the situation.
As a member of a team, I would like myself to be lead by a democratic leader. Very less negative stigma is attached to this type of leadership. Under a democratic leader I would feel more free to express myself and participate in the group. Democratic leadership is a two way process of give and take. It is this openness which I like about. A democratic or participative leader is quite engaging and motivating as well. Motivation forms a key criterion in the difficult and stressful life in the finance sector. All these just adds to the advantages of having lead by a participative/ democratic leader.
Take out any world class leading organisation and you’ll come to know that they are not managed by managers but instead leaders who have a clear vision. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell are just some of the examples of great leaders in the corporate world. Life has never been the same after the demise of Steve Jobs. Leadership is quite a complex phenomenon. A person can be trained easily to become a manager but not a true leader.
Cherry, K. (2012) Lewin’s Leadership Styles, [Online], Available: http://psychology.about.com/od/leadership/a/leadstyles.htm .
CMI (2012) Understanding Management Styles, Jan, [Online], Available: http://www.managers.org.uk/products/understanding-management-styles .
Mullins, L.J. (2013) Management & Organisational Behaviour, 10th edition, Harlow: Pearson Education.