In many articles and books, authors mainly try to indicate the contrast between leadership and management, by comparing their interpretations and the skills one needs to be considered a leader or manager. So, what is the meaning of the management and leadership, what skills managers and leaders are expected to have under the light of efficiency and what balance is needed between the demands of management and those of leadership?

Managers are generally task-oriented, they are involved in staff development, mentoring of people with high potential and in conflict resolution, while maintaining ethics and discipline. Management is exercising direction of a group or organization through executive, administrative and supervisory positions (Katz 1955). Kotter described the management as a job that takes care of planning, organizing, budgeting, coordinating and monitoring activities for a group or organization (Kotter, 2001). Managers aim to reach short-term goals, avoid any risks and establish standardization to improve efficiency (Kotterman, 2006).

Leadership has been outlined as a background, experience, a mastery, a skill, a manner, a responsibility, a function of management, an ability, a power, a characteristic and a position of authority (Northouse, 2007). According to Robert Greenleaf’s definition, effective leaders are people, who serve others and are followed by them (Bennis and Nanus, 1997). Lao Tzu defined the best leader as one, whose existence is barely known to people, and when the work is done and aims fulfilled, people think they have all done by themselves. According to Warren Bennis, good leaders make people feel that they are at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel centered and that gives their work meaning. He mentioned that leadership was the capacity to translate vision into reality. (Warren Bennis, 1999, 1991)

If we discuss the management or the managers, we will find out that humans have developed them with an aim to apply control mechanisms and protocols. The responsibility and the role of a manager was to make sure that employees came to work on time, did their work, didn’t make any problems and repeated the same processes next day. There was no accent or stress on innovation, involvement, empowerment or creativity, nor was a need for such kind of things. Nowadays, we live and work in a world, where all the above-mentioned things are fundamental. This indicates that managers also need to be leaders. In stereotypes, manager focal points are controlling, process, effectiveness and organization, and those of a leader – perspective, vision, innovative ideas and change.

The following example shows how leadership skills helped to solve a big problem, and how managerial skills helped to change the situation. It is an example of a manager of tree regional franchisee shops of an international company with 13 employees. He had monthly sales targets and quarterly qualitative indicators (mystery shopping, quarterly knowledge tests and shop checking results) needed to be reached. The franchise company became insolvent and quitted paying the payrolls. It was an unexpected situation for employees and resulted in complaints from them. At the end of the working day, the manager invited a meeting with the employees. He explained the situation to them and told that he was in the same situation as they were, but that he was not ready to give up either. He specially mentioned that he could not implement his idea of changing the situation without the team. The manager asked for trust, hard work and introduced his vision of solving the problem. They agreed to work with this program for a month. The first step was to find a supplier, who would agree to being paid after realization of the products. All commissions from product sales were used to pay salaries (cleaners’ salaries were a priority to ensure the service centers’ cleanliness). After eight months of work, the team had the average 99% score for all three qualitative indicators, and average 94% sales targets were reached.

As Kotter states, leadership is not necessarily better than management, or a replacement for it: rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary activities. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment … strong leadership with weak management is no better, and is sometimes actually worse, than the reverse. The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other. (Kotter, 1990).

Many people think that “management” and “leadership” terms are similar. But, it should be stated that management and leadership are recognizably different from each other. At the same time, both of them are required for an organization, which wants to reach their goal and performance. It is obvious that things need to be managed and people need to be led. When we talk about things, we mean processes, systems, operations and physical assets, as well as the ways of doing things. If we talk about people, we mean employees, partners and customers. In this case we are talking about a way of being.

When management prevails over leadership, employees do not see their vision, do not believe that the work they do is necessary, do not try to suggest innovative ideas, do not believe in the future of their team and their company; they have low commitment and loyalty. When leadership prevails over management, employees seek planning, rules, problem solving within the team members, structured work, organizing and decision making. There are organizations, where leaders suggest new ideas, changes, and managers resist to their application. However, it is vital for them to find the balance and necessary to achieve the best results. As a Head of Training and Development Department, I think that it is important to try to find leaders in an organization and train them to be managers. It is much more effective than the reverse.

And, as a conclusion, managers’ and leaders’ roles should be considered as interdependent and complementary. The strategic effectiveness of a company can be achieved, if there are strong leaders and managers in the company. In a rapidly changing environment, and to reach a competitive advantage, companies need strong leadership to deal with new problems, challenges and transformations. At the same time, companies need smart management to operate effectively and keep workplace in a good and healthy condition.

Author: Ashot Sargsyan