“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker.
Leaders inspire, motivate, and implement change, while managers plan and execute activities that help an organization attain objectives. Understanding this distinction is key to effectively moving forward as a leader or manager in any organization, field, team, or project. This article explores why differences between leaders and managers matters, what the roles entail, the relevance of style and their impact on employees and organizations.
What is a Leader?
Leaders motivate and encourage others to follow them toward a vision.
What is a manager?
Managers are responsible for controlling or administering all or part of an organization.
The Manager – Leader Spectrum
The word “manager” and “leader” are often used interchangeably. While there are similarities, such as the need to command respect, solve problems, exercise authority, and accept responsibility. It is helpful to view the relationship between “manager” and “leader” as a spectrum. On one side sits the pure “manager,” who creates processes, allocates resources, works with data, sets measurable targets, and administers the organization’s apparatus. On the opposite side of the spectrum sits the pure “leader.” They are charismatic individuals who bring people together through vision and inspiration. Leaders live their vision and share it with those around them. Leaders develop genuine relationships, engender loyalty, and have a natural appeal that motivates and encourages people around them to follow.
“Get the right people. Then no matter what else you might do wrong after that, the people will save you. That’s what management is all about.” – Tom DeMarco.
Management and Leadership Styles
The management process requires managers to act as leaders and vice-versa. As a result, successful managers will have both managerial and leadership skills and abilities. Some managers will sit closer to the manager side of the spectrum, while others will express leadership qualities. Below is a brief explanation of different management styles. As you may note, some styles will lean deliberately towards one side of the manager-leader spectrum while others are closer to the center:
The democratic management style is participative, in which employees are given a voice in decision-making. Managers who use this style believe that employees should be consulted about changes that affect them and have a say in the decisions that affect their work. Consequently, employees who work in a democratic organization feel valued and appreciated. As a result, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and have a higher level of commitment to the company.
The laissez-faire style is a hands-off management style in which managers do not interfere with their employees’ work. Employees in a laissez-faire setting are free to do their work as they see fit. This can be positive or negative depending on employee productivity and motivation levels.
If employees are productive and motivated, a laissez-faire management style can be beneficial because it allows them to work without interference. However, if employees are not productive or motivated, a laissez-faire management style can be counterproductive because it will enable them to wander without supervision, direction, or control. In this case, the manager would intervene to guide the employees in the right direction.
The autocratic management style is dictatorial, in which managers make all the decisions, and employees are given no say in the decision-making process. Employees who work in an autocratic organization are given very little freedom to do their work. The authoritarian management style is dictatorial, in which managers make all the decisions, and employees are given no say in the decision-making process. This style is often seen as very demanding and can lead to employees having high-stress levels.
The charismatic style is a management style in which the manager has a lot of charisma and uses it to influence and motivate employees. Managers who use this style are often very passionate about their work and can inspire employees to give their best effort. Hence, employees in a charismatic organization often feel excited and enthusiastic about their work. They feel like they are a part of something special, and their manager truly cares about them. This type of environment is often conducive to high productivity and motivation levels.
The coaching management style combines the democratic and autocratic management styles. In this style, managers involve employees in decision-making but make final decisions. This style is often seen as fair to employees because they are given a voice; moreover, they know that the manager is in charge and will make the final decision. This style is often seen as fair to employees because they have a say, but they also know that the manager is in charge.
The pacesetting style is where the manager sets the pace for how employees should work. Managers who use this style have high expectations for their employees and expect them to work as hard as possible. For this reason, employees who work in a pacesetting organization often feel overwhelmed and stressed out.
Bureaucratic management style.
The bureaucratic management style is a management style in which the manager follows the rules and procedures of the organization. Managers who use this style believe in order and predictability and follow the guidelines set forth by the organization. In a bureaucratic work environment, employees often feel frustrated because they cannot make decisions independently and feel like they are being micromanaged. In addition, employees in bureaucratic organizations often feel like they are working in a slow and inefficient system.
Transactional management style.
Transactional management is a management style in which the manager focuses on the transactions between employees and the organization. Managers who use this style believe in rules and procedures and follow the guidelines set forth by the organization. Employees working in a transactional organization often feel frustrated because they cannot make decisions independently and feel too controlled. In a transactional organization, the manager constantly looks at the transactions between employees and the organization and ensures that everything runs smoothly.
Why does Management or Leadership Style Matter?
Management and leadership styles greatly shape work attitudes, employee engagement, and organizational performance. A manager’s style significantly impacts employee attitudes toward their work and views about the organization.
- Managers account for 70% of work attitudes and employee engagement and can adversely or positively impact employees’ commitment to work and the company. (Gallup)
- 80% of employees feel they can approach their manager with problems; 11% believe the opposite. (Predictive Index)
- 70% of employees feel their manager values their unique skills; another 15% don’t think their skills are valued by their manager. (Predictive Index)
- 59% of employees feel their manager would never act in a way to undermine their efforts; 24% believe their manager would.(Predictive Index)
Therefore, organizations should endeavor to invest in developing managers with leadership qualities that align with their unique work environment, mission, and values.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because s/he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It is crucial to understand the difference between a leader and a manager and their impact on work attitudes and employee engagement. Managers significantly influence employee commitment to their work and the organization. Moreover, organizations can foster positive work attitudes, enhance employee engagement, and drive success by developing effective leadership styles and investing in managers with the right qualities.
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