Feb 28, 2012

- Leadership and Management

Leadership and Management

What is leadership, and what is the difference between leadership and management? In a nutshell, the difference is:
  • Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow, ie: a leader is the spearhead for that new direction
  • Management controls or directs people/resources in a group according to principles or values that have already been established.
The difference between leadership and management can be illustrated by considering what happens when you have one without the other.

Leadership without management

...sets a direction or vision that others follow, without considering too much how the new direction is going to be achieved. Other people then have to work hard in the trail that is left behind, picking up the pieces and making it work. Eg: in Lord of the Rings, at the council of Elrond, Frodo Baggins rescues the council from conflict by taking responsibility for the quest of destroying the ring - but most of the management of the group comes from others.

Management without leadership

...controls resources to maintain the status quo or ensure things happen according to already-established plans. Eg: a referee manages a sports game, but does not usually provide "leadership" because there is no new change, no new direction - the referee is controlling resources to ensure that the laws of the game are followed and status quo is maintained.

Leadership combined with management

...does both - it both sets a new direction and manages the resources to achieve it. Eg: a newly elected president or prime minister.

Some potential confusions...

The absence of leadership should not be confused with the type of leadership 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.
Also, what is often referred to as "participative management" can be a very effective form of leadership. In this approach, a new direction may seem to emerge from the group rather than the leader. However, the leader has facilitated that new direction whilst also engendering ownership within the group - i.e., it is an advanced form of leadership.
Sometimes, an individual may act as a figure head for change and be viewed as a leader even though he/she hasn't set any new direction. This can arise when a group sets a new direction of its own accord, and needs to express that new direction in the form of a symbolic leader. An example is Nelson Mandela whilst in prison:
  • During the period when Nelson Mandela was imprisoned (when his ability to provide personal, direct leadership was limited) he continued to grow in power and influence as the symbolic leader for the anti-apartheid movement.
  • Following his release from prison, he demonstrated actual leadership by leading South Africa into a process of reconciliation rather than retribution.

Leadership and Management Summary

Leadership is about setting a new direction for a group; management is about directing and controlling according to established principles. However, someone can be a symbolic leader if they emerge as the spearhead of a direction the group sets for itself.

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