Leadership and Management: Comparative Analysis


Despite similar functions and tasks that form the specifics of leadership and management, these two vectors of work differ significantly. The analysis of the interpretations of both concepts can help reveal how distinctive these directions of control are and what approaches to the development of leaders and managers exist. The comparison can also allow identifying the role of the learning and development function for each concept. The formation of appropriate leadership and management skills can take place in the context of special training programs, and the peculiarities of these courses will be reviewed to determine which indicators reflect their success. Educational programs can be effective if suitable tools and methods are applied, and by analyzing these practices, the effectiveness of these development projects will be assessed. Leadership and management concepts are relevant and applicable to different areas, and the use of adequate algorithms to improve the necessary skills is an essential condition for enhancing the professional qualifications of those in charge.

Concept of Leadership

Due to a wide research interest in the aspects of leadership and its analysis in relation to different areas, there are numerous interpretations of this concept. For instance, according to El Namaki (2017), with regard to modern working conditions, the classical theory of leadership is obsolete since its true essence lies in the conceptuality and functionality of the tools applied for interaction with personnel. In other words, leadership is a dynamic environment that is characterized by various practices and methodologies for carrying out productive activities of leading colleagues.

Another interpretation of leadership concerns the abilities that a particular person needs to possess to perform the necessary functions. As Ndalamba, Caldwell, and Anderson (2018) state, this concept assumes cognitive capacities to carry out team goals within the framework of moral and ethical responsibilities. This definition reflects the importance of different skills and attainments that are required to lead colleagues and emphasizes the relevance of corresponding behavioral patterns for the organization of a productive work process.

One of the most accurate and complete interpretations of leadership reveals its essence as a concept that includes different stakeholders. Silva (2016, p. 3) describes this theory “as an equilateral triangle in which the three sides are the leader, the followers, and the context”. This definition explains that leadership involves building relationships within certain situations and corresponding interaction modes that fit specific purposes. The interpretations considered make it possible to define leadership as a practice based on adhering to moral and ethical standards when communicating with colleagues and creating a background for the effective achievement of goals in the current operating environment.

Concept of Management

Regarding management as a theory that involves monitoring and coordinating the performance of subordinates’ immediate duties, interpretations of this concept can also focus on different aspects. Slintak (2019, p. 201) views the modern management model as a mechanism to address “such values as freedom, meritocracy, partnership, information sharing and profit sharing”. In this definition, characteristics are given, which propose to evaluate management as a practice that puts open communication above authoritarian control algorithms. Such an approach reflects the contemporary trend of promoting adaptive rather than inflexible managerial styles.

In its simplest interpretation, management is the process of controlling the activities of subordinates and introducing appropriate intervention mechanisms if necessary. Khorasani and Almasifard (2017) describe this activity as the monitoring of employees’ performance within the framework of assigned duties. This formulation does not reflect the diversity of approaches and control practices and offers a basic definition of the concept under consideration. In a dynamic operating environment, utilizing such an interpretation as a background for supervising subordinates is ineffective.

Modern competitive working conditions in various industries have led to the transformation of the management environment. According to Daft and Marcic (2016), today, control is often changed by enabling, and supervising turns into leading. In other words, the traditional concept of management is changing under the influence of current trends and becomes similar to that of leadership. At the same time, unique control mechanisms implemented by heads and owners of organizations and departments differentiate management and leadership practices and separate a range of powers and responsibilities.

Distinctions Drawn Between the Concepts of Leadership and Management

While taking into account the aforementioned interpretations of the concepts of leadership and management, one should distinguish between them due to distinctive approaches to interaction with personnel. Solomon, Costea, and Nita (2016) remark that one of the key aspects that explain the difference is the competency list. In particular, leaders, as a rule, do not have the authority to make specific decisions to intervene and implement development strategies. As is clear from the analysis, the main purpose of leadership is to lead colleagues and create a supportive environment by applying relevant cognitive skills and taking into account the context of a specific operating environment. In such conditions, a responsible employee can have an equal status with other team members but, at the same time, have the ability to coordinate the work process through motivation and a personal example.

The field of management, in turn, is characterized by distinctive competencies. According to Solomon, Costea, and Nita (2016), managers coordinate subordinates’ activities through direct instructions and control mechanisms and have the authority to allocate resources. Despite the prevailing trends in this sphere, which Daft and Marcic (2016) mention, in particular, a shift towards enabling practices, the control function is one of the main ones in the management mode. The effective coordination of subordinates’ work may not involve managers’ direct involvement, but productive development strategies proposed to optimize the workflow can be a significant driver of success. Thus, the criteria of competencies and authority are the primary factors that distinguish the concepts of leadership and management.

Approaches to Developing Leaders

In the context of developing competent leaders, individual approaches are the common methods of increasing the capacity of employees and expanding their knowledge of anticipated responsibilities. In particular, Marquardt et al. (2018) note practicing discipline as one of such approaches. According to the authors, a leader’s attitude towards assigned duties is largely shaped through diligence and discipline, which contribute to avoiding risks and identifying potential threats to the achievement of ultimate goals timely (Marquardt et al., 2018). As another approach, the researchers cite a strategy involving conflict resolution (Marquardt et al., 2018). Establishing an enabling operating environment for productive work is a valuable prospect, and teaching this skill is a sought-after approach to developing leaders.

Adapting to a specific environment due to implementing special skills is an essential aspect of leadership development. Caldwell and Hayes (2016) describe an approach called situational awareness. This practice allows employees to not only help colleagues and advance the strategies identified by managers but also take into account the context of current working conditions to apply the most appropriate behavioral and cognitive skills. The ability to adapt to different situations determines the competence of leaders and their value as intermediaries between managers and subordinates. Finally, as one of the integral approaches, Caldwell and Hayes (2016) mention commitment to learning. The desire to improve individual skills and expand the necessary knowledge define an employee as a worker with high motivation and, therefore, a strong leadership position. Therefore, continuous learning is promoted in many organizations as a principle of preparing competent leaders.

Approaches to Developing Managers

To develop relevant managerial qualities and manage people productively, corresponding approaches and practices can be applied, which may be valuable in developing the necessary attainments. One of them is training problem-solving skills, which Proctor (2018) describes as a practice that enhances critical thinking and strengthens strategic planning knowledge. This approach has value in view of an opportunity to conduct management activities in any conditions, including both a dynamic environment and unhurried control. In addition, the researcher draws attention to the role-playing technique as a practice that helps a manager to participate in the work process directly (Proctor, 2018). This approach opens up opportunities for lifelong learning and allows one to assess the peculiarities and challenges of specific activities from personal experience.

Assessing the operating environment by using objective valuation practices is an approach that provides the necessary information about the current working conditions. Reijers, Vanderfeesten, and van der Aalst (2016) call this method workflow analysis and argue that by evaluating potential challenges or influences, a manager develops the ability to make decisions faster and control subordinates’ activities more effectively. As another potentially effective approach to developing managers, the researchers also note the method based on training organizational behavior (Reijers, Vanderfeesten and van der Aalst, 2016). This practice has value as a mechanism that contributes to improving managerial competencies and enhancing skills to control subordinates’ work in a dynamic operating environment in which the roles of each employee are taken into account.

Utilizing the Learning and Development Function for Leadership

The key value that the learning and development (L&D) function carries is an opportunity to create conditions to adapt employee performance to organizational goals. Van Dam (2018) analyzes this component in the context of leadership and provides arguments to support this methodology. The author notes that utilizing L&D allows leaders to “identify capability and performance gaps” (Van Dam, 2018, p. 48). This perspective is valuable from the standpoint of assessing risks. Another valuable implication is a chance to work in a functional leadership mode since the L&D function is considered a tool for increasing the necessary skills. Van Dam (2018) also mentions the parameter of initiative that is enhanced due to the use of the L&D mode in the process of forming leadership qualities. As another valuable perspective, the author cites the possibility of productive employee engagement in the work process (Van Dam, 2018). The L&D function allows interacting with the target audience effectively through involvement and motivation drivers. Finally, the effective assessment of the goals set by managers is another valuable option since short-term and long-term impacts are analyzed efficiently due to the implementation of the L&D function.

Utilizing the Learning and Development Function for Management

To promote effective management, engaging the L&D function is a significant prospect. Armstrong and Taylor (2020) analyze its manifestations in a real operating environment and note that one of the valuable implications of its use is increasing the organizational culture of control. Managers acquire valuable skills in communicating with subordinates and are empowered to conduct work based on mutual respect and open communication. Another valuable perspective that the authors mention is the enhancement of knowledge management (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). The allocation and control of human resources and financial assets are successful if responsible persons have the necessary training in this area.

Introducing contemporary means of controls in the workflow is a valuable prospect that the L&D function allows realizing. According to Armstrong and Taylor (2020), in the context of the active use of media space and digital technology, learning the relevant skills opens up an opportunity for managers to use convenient monitoring mechanisms. Another notable application of this function is planning experience that is enhanced and, as Armstrong and Taylor (2020) argue, improved since managers learn new approaches to strategic control. Finally, commitment and dedication are properties that the L&D function helps gain and creates the background for productive management activities in the context of mutual understanding with colleagues (Armstrong and Taylor, 2020). Thus, learning and development algorithms have significant benefits and are important tools for improving leadership and management competencies.

Indicators of Success for Leadership Development Programs

In the process of developing leaders, promoting special programs can be an effective methodology to create conditions for preparing competent employees with the necessary skills. The specific outcomes of this training are indicators that confirm the value of such programs and their relevance to the chosen purpose. As one of such factors, Lucas et al. (2018) note leaders’ ability to follow an organizational course to meet current needs and challenges. If an employee is able to help colleagues address existing gaps and optimize performance, this is proof of productive leadership training. Another indicator that Lucas et al. (2018) cite is an opportunity to measure the results of the training completed. A competent leader can realize one’s professional potential if a manager can compare his or her performance with that prior to participating in a specific program and confirm increased productivity.

As one of the most objective indicators of the success of leadership development programs, one can mention the increase in staff motivation. According to Lucas et al. (2018), the ability to empower colleagues defines a leader as an employee who copes with assigned tasks effectively and can serve as an example to others. This criterion largely demonstrates professionalism and the potential to create a favorable environment in a team where each worker makes a personal contribution. As a logical conclusion from this indicator, Lucas et al. (2018) also highlight improved communication practices. If a leader has taken part in a special development program and honed the ability to interact with colleagues, this attainment is transferred to other members of the collective. As a result, a productive work process is established, which allows addressing the necessary goals and objectives successfully.

Indicators of Success for Management Development Programs

In the process of managers’ professional training through special development programs, specific goals help determine whether the work done is successful, and whether a particular person can perform assigned control duties effectively. Onnis, Hakendorf, and Tsey (2018) consider these indicators of success and cite an increase in managerial capacity as a valuable outcome. If an executive demonstrates the skills of effective monitoring and timely intervention in the work process, this means that the training program carried out is helpful. Interaction with personnel is an integral attribute of management, and one of the significant indicators of success is an improvement in the retention rate. As Onnis, Hakendorf, and Tsey (2018) note, this aspect of managerial activity demonstrates a productive communication mode established and proves an executive’s qualification. In addition, employees’ self-commitment is enhanced, which is also a consequence of competent management.

To perform team management effectively, the skill of strategic planning is required. Onnis, Hakendorf, and Tsey (2018) remark that the level of this attainment acquired during an appropriate development program largely determines the success of the entire course of study. If a manager offers flexible and convenient strategic solutions after completing special training, this confirms the effectiveness of such a program and its relevance as a project aimed to improve important skills. Finally, as another indicator of success, one can highlight enhanced cultural management skills. As Onnis, Hakendorf, and Tsey (2018), across many teams, the workforce is diverse, and the competent control over employees with different cultural backgrounds demonstrates an executive’s ability to maintain a favorable inter-professional communication mode. All the aforementioned indicators are the significant determinants of the success of management development programs.

Methods to Ensure the Success of Leadership Development Programs

To succeed in implementing leadership development programs and ensure the realization of the assigned tasks, special methodologies are designed to help support such training projects. One of the indicators of success is addressing organizational needs and challenges, and as a mechanism to achieve this objective, Megheirkouni (2016) mentions a strategy of identifying current needs. As an example, the author cites a program aimed to determine a specific need for leadership through the analysis of performance in specific areas (Megheirkouni, 2016). By implementing targeted training in the given direction, an employee claiming a leadership role can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to mobilize colleagues for productive activities.

Since one of the indicators of a successful leadership program is an opportunity to measure its outcomes, drawing up a rating scale is a valuable method. Megheirkouni (2016) states that measuring the mistakes made can help identify how effective a training project is and what changes can help adjust it. By compiling such a scale, managers can obtain objective data on the value of the implemented leadership development course. Finally, advanced communication is another outcome of a productive leadership development program. To realize this objective, Megheirkouni (2016) proposes a methodology for increasing interaction competency based on the adaptation of communicative forms to the current operational conditions. For instance, in a homogeneous environment, an emphasis on friendly interaction can be encouraged, while in a diverse team, addressing such challenges as a language barrier and distinctive cultural backgrounds can be a valuable strategy.

Methods to Ensure the Success of Management Development Programs

Since the improvement of retention rate is a crucial objective in management development programs, organizing such a program can be based on the principle of teaching how to motivate personnel, thereby increasing one’s managerial capacity. For this purpose, Onnis et al. (2019) propose to build a learning strategy aimed to collect data and receive objective feedback. If an employee is able to monitor and regulate the level of colleagues’ job satisfaction, his or her managerial potential is high, and this training technique is useful. Another valuable mode of program development is the sequencing of tasks and learning objectives. Onnis et al. (2019) confirm that strategic planning is a significant aspect of management activities. Honing this skill through a step-by-step program is preparation for the real practice of controlling subordinates and serves as an important experience in increasing individual knowledge of this element of work.

In a diverse team, communication skills are a mandatory aspect of productive performance control. Onnis et al. (2019) emphasize the importance of the cultural context of special development programs and note that a training regime can be based on creating conditions for the interaction of employees with different backgrounds. Cultural competence allows addressing the needs of a wide range of subordinates. Therefore, establishing management development programs by stimulating interpersonal interaction is a valuable approach to training qualified executives.


The analysis of the concepts of leadership and management proves that they have distinctive objectives, despite their similar functions, and the assessment of practices and techniques for strengthening relevant skills allows determining the qualities and attainments that responsible employees should possess. Various approaches to improving such skills are presented in the context of the learning and development function. Methods for ensuring the success of specific leadership and management development programs are reviewed, and related factors are proposed, which indicate the successful preparation of employees and their readiness for effective and qualified activities to stimulate colleagues and control subordinates.

Reference List

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