Management vs. Leadership Reaction Paper

Pages: 7 (2296 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management

Management and Leadership

There is an abundance of well-researched literature on the roles and functions of leadership and management. The perspectives vary from business, to military to education. The facts are that leadership skills and management skills and techniques vary from industry to industry and from person to person. This paper explores some of the ideas put forth from a variety of sources.

Peter Spurgeon and Robert Cragg (2007) contend the current attention paid to the importance of leadership has diminished the value and contribution of management. The authors assert that the discussion concerning leadership and management, at the most extreme, is inclined to portray leadership as 'good' and management as 'bad'. These constraints are rooted in the proposition that people do not want to be managed, with its connotations of bureaucracy and control, but are happy to follow a leader toward a vision. At the core of this perception is the belief that leaders are concerned with the future and with the people in the system, while managers are focused upon greater efficiency and immediate results.

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The traditional view of a manager's functions, according to Spurgeon and Cragg (2007), are as an administrator working on short-term goals within the current systems and structures. The manager focuses upon making that which exists as efficient as possible. The authors describe the basic functions of management as planning, budgeting, organizing, and controlling resources and problem solving. These managerial activities, they assert, are most appropriate when organizations are basically stable and relatively predictable. On the other hand traditional view of a leader' functions are of one who takes a long-term, big picture, perspective and endeavors to initiate change for the improvement of the organization. When organizations need to adapt and change to new circumstances then leaders who challenge, motivate and inspire others towards a new vision are critical.

TOPIC: Reaction Paper on Management vs. Leadership Assignment

The framing of the functions of management and leadership in this way can result in limiting the capacities of these roles by assigning labels that restrict movement between them. This is, of course ridiculous and unrealistic say Spurgeon and Cragg (2007). Managers often have responsibility for change and major implementation in programs and projects and they must, at times, communicate and convince other staff of the merits of pursuing altered goals and tasks. This is a leadership function. Of course it maybe that some individual managers are inept at fulfilling this particular facet of their role. This then for that individual might become a dividing point between their capacity as a manager and their inability to perform as a leader. Conversely, a person can be a good leader and not be a capable manager. For example a charismatic leader may be able to express an articulate an inspirational vision of the future, but have little notion of the steps necessary to achieve that vision. Delivering and maintaining change inspired by leaders, requires management expertise. Thus the two functions support and complement one another. They vary in emphasis and are more or less appropriate at different times depending on circumstances.

The functions of a manager are appropriate when defining and structuring tasks, when understanding operational constraints and the options available to complete the task, when task is limited to a specific and limited area of work with clear boundaries, when the work being undertaken is well understood and exists within an existing set of parameters and when the environment in which the task is conducted is stable and predictable and the most important outcome of the task is improved efficiency. The functions of a leader are appropriate when the ability to perform the task goes beyond what is currently being done and there is a need to develop a long-term vision, when the task is not routine and requires innovative thinking, when there is a need to inspire and motivate others in undertaking the task, when there is a need to establish momentum and keep things moving in a new direction in order to be successful, and when the task is required because the external environment is unstable and changing rapidly (Spurgeon & Cragg, 2007).

A Military Perspective

Raymond Shulstad (2009), a retired USAF Brigadier General, frames the concepts of leadership and management from the viewpoint of a career soldier. He draws a distinction between the functions performed by a leader and those of a manager. The author asserts the function of a manager include establishing objectives, planning, organizing, directing, and controlling execution, while the responsibilities of a leadership include setting the vision, goals, strategies, and priorities and then motivating people to fulfill them. Leadership entails the facilitation of management's plan. Another way to look at it is that things are managed and people are lead.

Shulstad (2009) identifies six characteristics good leaders must possess in order to be effective. First they must care about people. Organizational success depends on the efforts of the leader's people; therefore leaders must empower, inspire, enable, encourage, and support subordinates. Secondly, effective leaders set the organization's direction in terms of vision, goals, priorities, and strategies. In order to gain maximum commitment to organizational success, people need to understand the organizational goals, and the strategies employed to achieve those goals. The organization benefits greatly when its people view their jobs not just as a set of tasks they get paid to do, but as work that contributes to the organization's success. Next a leader must communicate effectively. It is imperative that personnel in the organization understand the organizational goals and the part they play in achieving those goals. Everyone must know what is expected of them. An effective leader must also embrace and instill a positive attitude. A success-oriented, can-do/will-do attitude is important in order to overcome the challenges that will present themselves during the course of operations. An effective leader is proactive. They must not be afraid of making mistakes and when one is made they learn from it and move on. They strive to spend more time preventing problems and less time solving them. Finally, a leader must mentor and develop subordinates. They provide professional development opportunities and move their people to new positions in which they can continue to grow. They know that in so doing they are investing in the future of the organization.

Dangers of Hubris

Ian Cooper (2007), a medical doctor from South Africa, warns leaders and managers that they are vulnerable to adopting negative behavior patterns that can lead to their professional demise. One issue is the belief that others cannot, or do not have the capacity to do perform tasks in the same way, or as well as they can. As a consequence they try to do everything themselves. Realistically, this is impossible and the manager or leader becomes an obstacle to themselves and others. Delegation is an important aspect of leadership, and distinct from off-loading work, it requires a balanced view and the willing belief in the capabilities and capacity of your fellow employees. Another pitfall is the tendency to isolate yourself from the team to which you belong. This behavior denies your colleagues the chance to contribute to the achievement of a goal, and deprives the leader/manager the positive support. Additionally, it is difficult to gain commitment for a project the team has not been involved in developing. When leader/managers feel too important they become less self-critical and unable to honestly evaluate themselves. They may fail to learn from their mistakes, and thus risk repeating them. An honest review of poor performance as part of self-reflection is the first step to personal growth. Along the same lines when leaders become too self absorbed they fail to learn from others. The avenues for feedback are blocked because they may not believe anything could be learned, or perhaps worse, are afraid of what they might learn. Others may not feel capable of dealing honestly with the leader/manager for fear they will not listen, or react defensively. Ironically, this overall sense of invulnerability makes leader/managers vulnerable for if they are blind to their areas of weakness they cannot prepare themselves for the problems their weaknesses will cause.

The New Leader in a Modern World

Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz (2009) identify the qualities a new leaders need if they are to create a culture of leadership and be successful. A leader must have a clear and confident understanding of who he is, and a strategy to keep performing as a leader in a dynamic environment. Because he is the conscience of the organization a leader must possess a strong ethical sense. It is essential that a leader listens to, understands, and relates to the people in the organization in order to make them productive, fulfilled and motivated. To be able to understand the situations he and his organization must operate in, a leader must constantly take the pulse of the dynamic, complex and ever changing environment. Today's leader cannot be a slave to the organization, he must control it and he must be quick to harness ever changing technologies. This means the leaders has… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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