25 May 2018

Leadership vs Management

For a business to operate successfully, every team needs a leader or manager to offer direction, guidance and ensure targets are met. Without one, you may be faced with indecision, demotivation, and disorganisation. However, it’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between leadership and management.

Inspiring people with a vision of how great they could be is the mark of an exceptional leader. Every employee is unique and assuming that one management style will work for everybody is a common misconception. People are driven by a range of motivations and respond differently to management styles.

Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group to follow and the leader is the spearhead for that new direction who will often use phrases such as “let’s do it”. Management is different in the sense that it controls or directs people and resources in a group according to principles or values that have been established. A manager is much more likely to use the phrase, “go and do it”.

There is much more to these definitions of leadership and management than may first appear. Albert Einstein famously said, “everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler”. However, it is an oversimplification to think that leaders lead, and followers follow because the relationship between leadership, management, and followers is a complex one. Leadership and management are often part of the same role because there is a continual adjustment of the direction (leadership) and controlling resources to achieve that direction (management).

Managers must develop both their leadership and management qualities to ensure that their teams are working towards the organisation’s goals as well as its efficient use of resources. Management without leadership controls resources to maintain the status quo or ensure things happen according to already-established plans. For example, a sports referee manages opposing teams to ensure they keep within the rules of the game.  However, a referee does not usually provide “leadership” because there is no new change or direction. Leadership without management sets a direction or vision that others follow, without considering how the new direction is going to be achieved.

There can be leaders who don’t manage in the workplace.  For example, an entrepreneur might grow a business by networking, building relationships, and generating ideas for new products. However, they may also rely on a deputy (e.g. a factory manager) to ensure the right staff are recruited, products are created, and services are delivered. Richard Branson is a very good example of this.

The absence of leadership should not be confused with the type that calls for ‘no action’ to be taken. For example, when Gandhi went on hunger strike and called for protests to stop during the negotiations for India’s independence, he demonstrated great leadership because taking no action was a new direction for the Indian people at that time.

Over time, many theories of leadership have been proposed including the Great Man Theory, Trait Theory and Behavioural Theory alongside different styles. Leadership style is the general manner, outlook, attitude, and behaviour of a leader, particularly in relation to their colleagues and team members. This style can influence how well a group accomplishes its goals and how well it maintains itself. Lewin recognised that one of the factors that determines a leader's choice of style is the need to make decisions. He and his co-workers identified three styles of decision making which you will know as autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire.

At itris, we encourage leaders to take a democratic approach to their style as people are often highly engaged in projects and decisions. As a result, team members tend to have high job satisfaction and high productivity. We also encourage supportive behaviour, which improves two-way communication, listening skills, interaction, involvement, support and encouragement within the company.

The key thing to remember here is that you need to inspire your workforce, lead them into battle and manage their expectations. You should set an example for the rest of your team and be the hardest worker in the office. Lead by example and your team will follow. What type of leader do you think you are? Tweet us @itris!

Written by: Paul Sangster, Head of Sales and Marketing

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