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What are the differences between a Leader and a Manager?
Some critics argue that leadership and management are the same thing because leadership is simply one facet of the management role. Other critics argue that there is a definite distinction. Leaders and managers have different roles and make different contributions:
• Leaders develop visions and drive new initiatives
• Managers monitor progress towards objectives to achieve order and
• Leaders are catalysts focused on strategy
• Managers are operators and problems solvers concerned primarily with goal attainment
Management research has maintained that one of the key distinguishing features between leaders and managers in this respect is orientation to change.
Other researchers propose that the key distinction is that:
• Leadership is path finding while; management is path following.
• Managers do things right while; leaders do the right thing.
Over the years much research has lead to the identification over time of a number of theories. Lets look at some of the main ones in turn.
The Trait Approach
Much early discussion and research on leadership focused on identifying the personal traits of effective leaders. This approach assumed that a finite number of individual traits of effective leaders could be found. However the list of potentially important traits is endless and every year new traits were added. This continual adding on led to more confusion than clarity. It was
decided that rather than individual personal traits, what was important was the behaviour of effective and ineffective leaders.
The Style Approach
In the late 1940s researchers began to explore the idea that how a person acts determines that person’s leadership effectiveness. Instead of searching for traits, these researchers examined behaviours and their impact on measures of effectiveness such as production and satisfaction of followers. The research depended on the idea that leaders must cope with two separate but interrelated aspects of their situations: they must accomplish the task and they must do so through the efforts of those they lead. Leadership behaviour was therefore studied by analysing what leaders do in relation to accomplishing the task and to maintaining the effort of people doing the task.
The Contingency Approach
Only after inconclusive and contradictory results evolved from much of the early trait and personal behavioural research was the importance of the situation studied more closely by those interested in leadership. Eventually researchers recognised that the leadership behaviour needed to enhance performance depends largely on the situation: what is effective leadership in
one situation may be disorganised incompetence in another. This approach proposed that the performance of groups is dependent on the interaction between leadership style and the situation. This approach suggests that an effective leader must be flexible enough to adapt to the differences among subordinates and situations.
New Leadership Approach
Some contemporary approaches to leadership in the 21st Century focus on the role of transactional, transformational and charismatic leadership. Transactional leadership has been referred to as the exchange role of the leader. The leader clarifies goals and objectives, work tasks and outcomes and organisational rewards and punishments. Transactional leaders are
instrumental in enabling followers to achieve their goals and do this by identifying the goals of each individual and the subsequent rewards. Transformational leaders are charismatic individuals who inspire and motivate others to achieve more than originally expected and they play a key role ininitiating and managing change.