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What is the difference between management and leadership? Word limit is 2000 and the Harvard referencing system has to be included and please make it in alphabetical order and check the typographical mistakes after you finish the essay




It is very common for the terms “management” and “leadership” to be used interchangeably. This is because these two terms are similar in many ways. Both of them relate to the way organizations and institutions are run. However, there are many significant differences between them. In the conventional sense, managers are essentially administrators. Their work is to make business plans, monitor progress, and ensure that all targets are met. On the other hand, leaders rely on their influence and ability to inspire to get people and organizations to change.

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From a scholarly perspective, it is possible for a more fundamental distinction between leadership and management to be made (Gill, 2002). In this case, management may be viewed as a function that every business must exercise while leadership is simply a relationship that a leader and his followers can establish to energize an organization. The aim of this paper is to discuss the difference between management and leadership based on the functions that characterize these two aspects of organizational and institutional undertakings.

Management: Emphasis on function

The management function entails a number of important things tasks and goals that must be undertaken in an organization. One of these tasks is problem-solving. Any manager has to be at the forefront in dealing with all the problems that arise within the organization on a daily basis. Additionally, management entails the ability to facilitate meetings and to undertake traditional bureaucratic tasks. To achieve this goal, managers must know how to delegate. The ability to delegate is a fundamental quality for any successful manager (Alvesson, 2003). Once different people perform different tasks that contribute to the attainment of all the targets of an organization, the management function is said to have achieved success. For instance, the manager may allocate tasks relating to planning to an individual who is conversant with this aspect. A different person may be assigned the role of overseeing all budgeting tasks. It is also common for activities relating to quality assurance to be allocated to one person. However, on the overall, all participants are expected to share responsibility for ensuring that all performance targets are met.

The management function also relates in a very fundamental way to team-building (Isaac, Zerbe & Pitt, 2001). The ability to build teams and motivate them is a much-needed skill for a successful manager. In many cases, it is ideal for a manager to give individual professionals the freedom to decide which tasks they would like to perform as individual members and which ones to perform as a team. Similarly, team members may prefer to be given the freedom to determine which tasks they should handle and which ones they should delegate to the manager. Such practices are an essential component of the management function since they greatly contribute to a good working relationship between managers and their subordinates. With such a relationship, it may be extremely difficult for the manager to meet all organizational targets.

A suggestion that is often fronted by technical staff members is that a manager should concentrate on bureaucratic issues in order to ensure that they are free to handle technical aspects of their work freely (Rotemberg & Saloner, 2000). This makes a lot of sense considering that many technical staff members, unlike their counterparts in other professions, are often reluctant to discipline or evaluate their colleagues. They often express the concern that such tasks might eventually make their technical uninteresting and uninspiring. Instead, they always prefer to hire managers to perform such arduous activities such as listening to complaints, highlight the cost dimension in all organizational activities, informing members of the organization about the achievements made and the challenges ahead, and representing the organization to customers.

Some people have a negative attitude towards management (Podolny, 2010; Nohria, 2010; Lord, 2004; Dessler, 2001). They view it as a challenging and uninspiring activity that serves the interests of shareholders and founders of the organization at the expense of the wellbeing of employees. This is perhaps because unlike leaders, managers are given very or no room to maneuver in terms of operational strategies. They must implement whichever policies that the board of directors decides to introduce in the organization. The best that managers can do is to convince the board that certain policies are not worth implementing because of the harm they may ultimately cause to the organization (Blackmore, 2006). Otherwise, they may have to toil all day and all year round trying to inculcate unrealistic organizational practices with a view to meet extraordinarily high-performance targets. In contrast, the core objective of a leader is to inspire and win the hearts of followers. As long as this goal is achieved, the leader can succeed in energizing the organization and driving meaningful change.

Leadership: Emphasis on relationships

The ideal leader is one whose instructions and advice people want to follow. This means that a manager can adopt certain strategies to ensure that their views are supported by subordinates. However, despite this possibility, it may be extremely difficult for a manager to succeed in the overall objective of being a leader primarily because of the circumstances in which he must work (Hofstede, 2002). By being compelled to address day-to-day issues, he may easily lose track of the bigger picture (Hofstede, 2002). Consequently, he may end up pushing for irrational policies that ultimately make him less popular with his subordinates.

In contrast, a leader does not have to face such constraints. To begin with, a leader tends to have a free hand in the way he exploits different factors affecting followers’ behavior such as fear of failure, the hope of success, excitement about a job, trust in the leader’s professional abilities, and the desire to rise up to new challenges. In fact, the term “transformational leader” is normally used to refer to a leader who succeeds in exploiting all these factors to bring about change in his organization (Wooten & James, 2008). Such a leader establishes an aesthetic vision that every follower easily associates with. He is able to help people understand the meaning of what is achievable and what is not. The resulting sense of unity helps in not only galvanizing support for the leader but also in inspiring change.

Unlike management, leadership is about making people feel that they can achieve great things if they work at it (Endrissat & Mueller, 2005). This element of leadership should be properly used to ensure that followers are not inspired to do dangerous things (Ukko, 2007). To do this, the leader should carefully select talent, motivate talented people, coach them, and build trust among them. In this sense, leadership is all about building a relationship. In contrast, management focuses on the function of the organization (Lim, 2005). To pursue this goal, managers must plan, budget, facilitate, and evaluate policies, standards, outcomes, and processes (Lim, 2005).

For the goals outlined by a leader to be attained, change needs to be well managed. This means that a successful leader is one who has managerial skills. Through proper management, a leader can succeed in not only bringing about change but also sustaining it. To manage change, there is a need for the manager to understand the various behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual dimensions that guide people’s actions. Different people tend to embrace different values, visions, and strategies for survival. Therefore, a wise leader must be versatile enough to navigate and fully exploit as many sources of motivation and inspiration as possible. This requirement is particularly important in today’s globalized world where people of different ethnic, religious, racial, cultural, economic, social, and political backgrounds are required to work together towards achieving a common vision in organizational contexts.

A manager can get away with failing to understand various differences among people in terms of behavior but a leader cannot (Neelankavil, Mathur & Zhang, 2000). This is simply because, in the case of a manager, the focus is simply on the function of the organization. As long as the function has been achieved, the members of the board of the directors may not care whether or not the company’s employees have a shared vision. This is in sharp contrast with the reality as far as leadership is concerned. If a leader fails to establish a common vision among followers, the overarching objective of organizational transformation will not be achieved (Yukl & Heaton, 2002).

The function-relationship nexus can be elaborated through an analysis of the issues that managers and leaders tend to preoccupy with. Managers tend to be preoccupied with the task of counting value (Armstrong, 2008). Their primary responsibility is to ensure that they deliver the highest possible returns for the shareholders of the organization. They must be preoccupied with this objective simply because they may end up getting sacked for failure to deliver satisfactory shareholder value for their organizations. In the process of counting value, managers may end up distracting employees, thereby leading to a drop in performance. In contrast, leaders tend to be preoccupied with the task of creating value. They focus on what they are likely to add over and above the outcomes that the follower has already delivered. Nurturing talent is one of the best ways through which leaders create value. Another useful way of creating value is through leading by example. Through such action-based leadership, it is possible for a leader to get the best out of every follower, thereby hastening the process of bringing about organizational change.

To be able to build new relationships, leaders must be preoccupied with not just creating value but also establishing influence. This is unlike managers, who are preoccupied with power. The best way to demonstrate this reality is by highlighting the use of the term “subordinates” in management discourse (Bush, 2008). In contemporary leadership discourse, the term “follower” is often used instead of “subordinates” (Bush, 2008). An individual who has cemented his identity as a leader has no business amassing power; he understands that power is meaningless without influence. They are interested in getting the job done and not to take credit for the positive image of the organization. Their futuristic approach to problem-solving easily extends their circles of influence, thereby enabling them to achieve even greater change not only for his benefit but also for his followers and the wider society.

One of the reasons why management tasks easily attract negative perceptions is that managers must sometimes do the impossible to manage people. They must assert their authority and demonstrate that they are in charge. After all, this is a fundamental requirement in any bureaucratic organization. Without asserting power, it becomes impossible for one to control those who occupy a lower position in the management hierarchy. Moreover, a manager who has failed in efforts to assert his power over his subordinates is likely to fly at the idea of abiding by the instructions provided by his superiors (Skyrme, 2000). In the case of leadership, such constraints do not exist. Success in leadership roles does not depend on strict adherence to bureaucratic principles (Gloet, 2006). Transformational leaders always see the bigger picture. Consequently, they may want to introduce a new practice in hierarchical structures of bureaucracy that are replaced with horizontal structures. In these structures, every member of the organization would be an equal contributor to its overall mission and vision.


In conclusion, the best way to understand the difference between management and leadership is through the function-relationship nexus. In management, the objective of the manager is to successfully undertake an organizational function. Examples of these functions include planning, budgeting, controlling, evaluating, and facilitating various tasks and processes. Managers perceive the need to control people and assert power and authority in order to get the job done. In contrast, the overarching objective of leadership is to build relationships. Leaders perceive the need to influence people’s actions and to have as many followers as possible with a view to inspire change and create new value.


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