Leader vs manager: battle of the titans

Recent research has shown that, in these turbulent times, what makes the difference is the agility of a company's leaders - at all levels of the organisation.
Believe it or not, there are those rare breed of professionals in the world of work who describe themselves as "great managers."
Yet, there are others out there who would scoff at the title "manager," qualifying themselves as a class of "good leaders.”

There are those who say a manager, focusing primarily on the enterprise's revenues tends to be a master at organising a workforce in meeting or exceeding annual profit projections. Typically, great managers have staked their reputations, if not their careers, on maintaining bottom-line results for the betterment of the organisation. Others say good leaders sacrifice micromanagement of the bottom-line in favour of a macroscopic understanding of the enterprise, its associates and its strategic direction.

While it has never been conclusively proven leaders produce lower profits than managers, they do tend to create more inspired, more empowered associates -- willing to serve to the ends of the Earth -- and leaders are significantly less likely to be deemed a workaholic, ogre or boss-monster by their associates or colleagues. With that in mind, distinguishing between leadership and management has always been a difficult task. Although the skills required for leadership and management overlap to some extent, there also are distinctions.

Management tends to be task-oriented, whereas good leadership tends to emphasise the motivational aspects of accomplishing tasks and reaching goals. Developing management skills, leaving the inspirational and consensus-building role that characterises leadership to others.

Indeed, despite arguments to the contrary, there are fundamental differences in the philosophical approaches to management versus leadership. While these differences are not as definitive as night and day, they do draw unique contrast with one another while also complementing related competencies.

Top American management guru, Robert B. Kowalski, provides the following differences between leadership and management: Leaders motivate, create enthusiasm, inspire loyalty, inspire productivity, set a course, initiate change and build consensus. Managers organise, delegate, implement, interview, and supervise.

True, there has probably never been a time in the world's history when leadership development has been more critical to organisations. The pressures we have been experiencing related to technology, innovation, globalisation and talent wars have been exacerbated by the state of the economic environment. Organisations with effective leadership will be the ones to survive and thrive in the coming decade.

Indeed, one could argue that many of the failures in business in recent years are at least in part attributable to ineffective leadership: poor decision making, lack of accountability to customers and the public, and lapses in ethics.

Therefore leadership development is not just about developing leaders - it is about creating a culture of performance. There is a relationship between good management and employee commitment. Great leaders attract, hire and inspire great people. A mediocre manager will never attract or retain high-performing employees. Leadership development creates a magnet for high performers and fosters a high-performance organisation. This is why the organisations that are built to last have strong histories of leadership development.

In order to measure the impact of their investment in leadership development the most critical thing that organisations can do is to consider the intended outcomes and impact before beginning to develop leaders.

Knowing that leadership development is producing effective leadership and positively impacts the organisation requires strong evaluation practices that measure relevant results. Evaluation must move beyond the theoretical and be used strategically to enable organisations to accomplish their significant goals. Only then will the real contribution of leadership development be known.

So how does your leadership influence your organisation? Choosing a leadership style can be a balancing act between empowering and dominating your management team and employees. In other cases, leadership must reflect what the company needs.

A wide variety of models of leadership styles exist. In 1939, psychologist Kurt Lewin and a team of researchers settled on three divisions:

* Authoritarian Leadership - The autocratic method has a clear delineation between the leader and the followers with little or no input from managers and employees in decisions. For success with this style, you must be the most knowledgeable member of your group. Left unchecked, this style of leadership can plunge into a dictatorship.
* Participative Leadership - Engaging your team in the decision making process is a key facet of the democratic leadership style. In your role as CEO or senior manager, you are there to provide guidance. If you have placed value on your hiring and recruiting process, you have the right people in your organisation whose opinions you can rely on to benefit the business.

* Delegative Leadership Also known as a laissez-fair style, delegative leadership leaves the decision making up to the employees. If your team is highly knowledgeable, this style can be successful. Traditionally though, an absence of leadership with this style results in poorly defined roles and a lack of motivation.
Within these three divisions, other researchers have identified various leadership styles. Developed from Myers Briggs and Jungian typology, there are eight classifications including Participative Leadership, Ideological Leadership, Change-Oriented, Visionary Leadership, Action-Oriented, Goal-Oriented Leadership, Executive Leadership and Leadership Theorist. Find a leadership model that features styles you can identify with.

Reflecting on the type of leader you are and contrasting that with the type of leader your organisation needs you to be can provide valuable insight into where your journey of professional growth will lead. Absorb the best qualities from each of the leadership styles and employ them where they are most advantageous.

Historically, when budgets have tightened during an economic recession, training and development have been among the first corporate activities to see funding reduced.
But today we know more about the implications of failing to develop and offer skills development to people who are responsible for setting an organisation's strategy, growing and retaining its talent, and carrying it through difficult times into the future.

Indeed, research shows that organisations that invest in human capital development (including leadership development) see a significant return in the form of stock prices.
To effectively manage and lead in times of crisis and complexity, company leaders need multiple types of development, including financial management, strategy, communication and indeed leadership development.

A true leader is always learning and developing skills. He seeks out new information through formal and informal settings. He does not discourage constructive feedback and disagreement.

Therefore adapting your leadership style and changing it to face organisational challenges is part of being a successful leader.
Therefore while management and leadership do have their philosophical differences, they both share the common element of attaining goals.

If the goal becomes the team's destination, then the method - -. management versus leadership - - is the journey, and there are many roads available to the successful professional in today's competitive world. The strategies and practices that ensure success are limitless as work-place technology continues to evolve faster than at any other time in our history.

What sets one manager apart from another is whether he/she chooses to lead, manage or combine the best elements of both disciplines most needed for optimum results.
Liza van Wyk is CEO of skills and development companies, AstroTech and BizTech.

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