Management Vs Leadership: The Good And The Bad Of Being A Manager

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Being a manager is a job. Being a leader is a role. Increasingly companies are seeing that you need both skills for an effective work environment. In the article, “What Leaders Really Do” by John Kotter, John highlights the differences between a leaders and managers, and explains how they form a symbiotic relationship. John echo’s similar thoughts to Robert Lussier in, “Leadership Theory, Application, and Skill Development”. Both men argue that to be successful one trait is not more important than the other. You need to integrate both manger skills and leader skills in order to be successful in todays business world. Both authors generally agree that leadership, like management can be trained and gained with dedication and practice, with a few distinctions.

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John points out that for companies to survive in todays economy they need to be able to adapt and change to new environments. Leadership is the cornerstone for coping with change. A good leader can motivate people to move in the right direction (Kotter). In order to have a direction to move in, there needs to be a vision created by a leader and a plan created by a manager. Robert speaks to this dynamic in a different yet effective way. “Managers are concerned with stability and the best way to get the job done, and leaders place greater concern on innovation and change” (Lussier 17). A key take away from both authors is good management lays a frame work of consistency, and organization. While leadership will create a vision, help remove obstacles and pave the way for needed change to happen.

Robert and John both agree that leadership skills can be taught and developed. John is quick to point out that successful companies actively develop and look for leadership quality’s (Kotter). Robert points out that managerial leadership skills have three parts; technical, interpersonal and decision-making skills. While you can build, learn and practice any one of these skills both authors agree that symmetry is key. Having strong leadership qualities but weak management can sometimes be more detrimental than strong management and weak leadership (Kotter). John feels that in order to train a candidate in both leadership and management you need to understand the fundamental differences between them.

John Kotter writes a compelling article about the differences between leadership and management. While both traits are a part of a complementary system of action, each has its own distinct function and characteristic (Kotter). A leader sets the long-term vision, a manger sets a plan with step by step short term goals. The leader is able to bring about the movement and change from staff and a manger is able to document and observe. As a manager you can have many roles but as a leader you are an influencer. A leader understands and has the ability to relate to the people around them. A leader will know how to motive and appeal to others. Mangers plan, coordinate and control day to day activities needed for a company to survive. Leaders inspire and align people to accomplish goals. While managers set and quantify them. My biggest take away from the article is the need to focus on both sets of skills. If you don’t see something as important of necessary than you will not work towards cultivating it. Having a great plan isn’t worth much if you can get buy in from your team. In order to execute you need both manger skills and leadership skills. John and Robert both firmly agree that you can cultivate and increase your effectiveness in leadership and that is something I hope to continue to do.

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