A manager in an organisation is not always a leader. Management and leadership are two different concepts, though often appear to overlap. Modern organisations tend to be complex and operate in a global business environment. Therefore, there is renewed focus on the importance of management and leadership and their distinctive roles in promoting and advancing the interests of the organisation. Hard competition and continuous pressures for change demand that managers and leaders work closely together for achieving business goals.
On the practical level, a manager is called upon to evince the quality of leadership and a leader the knack for managing difficult situations in their respective roles in any organisation. Pragmatically speaking, then, the distinction between a manager and leader is not problematic. “A manager is often portrayed as a procedural administrator/supervisor—an individual in an organisation with recognized formal authority who plans, coordinates and implements the existing directions of the organisation (Koontz et al, 1986).”
A leader, on the other hand, is defined as someone who occupies a position of influence within a group that “extends beyond supervisory responsibility and formal authority” (Vecchio et al. 1994: 504) and is involved in devising new directions and leading followers “to attain group, organisational and societal goals” (Avery 1990: 453). This distinction between the supervisory manager and visionary leader has to be understood in terms of their respective tasks and functions. Dunsford, a management guru, believes that management is concerned with ‘efficiency’—with tasks such as coordinating resources and implementing policy, while leadership has to concern itself with ‘effectiveness’ of making decisions, setting directions and principles, formulating issues and grappling with problems.
Early work on leadership identified the various styles of leadership based on personal traits and behaviour of an effective leader, such as drive, desire to lead, decisiveness, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, job relevant knowledge (Kirkpatrick and Locke 1991: 48-60). The behaviourist models focused on the relationship between a leader’s actions and their impact on the attitudes and performance of employees.
These studies compared various styles of leadership, such as authoritarian and democratic styles. They studied if an effective leader was more prone to efficient accomplishment of a task rather than being inclined to the welfare of employees and subordinates. The ideal style, as proposed by Stogdill in 1974, combined the best of both approaches. In later work we find considerations of leadership theory as part of a wider approach to modern management.
The traditional distinctions between a manager and leader is disappearing. Modern business operates in the midst of uncertainties as the current global slowdown and enveloping financial crisis show. Accordingly, the role of a manager demands flexibility, dynamism, management skills as well as leadership quality.