Leadership and Management: Exploring the Concepts

Leadership and Management

Meanings Attached to Leadership and Management as Concepts

Leadership and management are foundational elements within any team since they provide the bulk of process coordination and allow setting clear goals, at the same time ensuring that the team members perform at the required level. The approaches toward defining leadership and management are quite numerous, yet, after scrutinizing the available definitions, one will extrapolate the common themes in the attempts at defining leadership and management correspondingly.

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Specifically, leadership is traditionally seen as the ability to guide a person or a group of people toward a specific goal, whereas management is defined as the process of controlling and monitoring the stages of a specific process (Gandolfi and Stone, 2018). While there are several intersections between the meanings attached to each notion, leadership and management are usually regarded as separate concepts.

The phenomenon of leadership is usually defined through the lens of the influence that it produces on people. For example, Ebbers and Wijnberg (2017) explain leadership as the ability to guide people through the stages of professional development. Gandolfi and Stone (2018) specify that, for leadership to exist, five crucial components have to be present. These include the following:

  1. there must be one or more leaders,
  2. leadership must have followers,
  3. it must be action-oriented with a legitimate
  4. course of action, and there must be
  5. goals and objectives. (Gandolfi and Stone 2018, p. 263).

Therefore, it can be concluded that leadership concerns itself mostly with the development of rapport with team members, as well as managing communication and encouraging the target audience to grow professionally and personally. In turn, the definition for management also has several facets and nuances to it. Similar to the definition for leadership, there are several disagreements concerning the characterization of management.

While typically seen as process-oriented, it also involves communicating with team members and improving relationships (Roy, Robert, and Giuliani, 2018). However, unlike leadership, which pursues the goals of change, management uses communication and emotional connection with team members to improve the results of their performance (Roy et al., 2018). Thus, management should be seen as the process that has a distinct end goal and that is aimed at accomplishing a series of particular steps while monitoring the quality of performance, the management of information, and other critical processes.

Distinctions between Leadership and Management

The notions of leadership and management are often conflated due to the overlaps between these two concepts. However, there are important distinctions to be drawn between the concepts of leadership and management. There is a perception that leadership tends to be more people-oriented, whereas management focuses primarily on the processes within a specific organizational context. While the specified assumption has a grain of truth in it, using it as the sole means of differentiating between leadership and management would mean simplifying the two notions.

Indeed, looking closer at the existing theories of leadership and management separately, one will realize that there is a noticeable pattern that allows distinguishing between leadership and management. For instance, from the position of the Trait Theory of Leadership, the characteristics of a true leader are inherent and, therefore, cannot be reproduced or trained artificially (Gandolfi and Stone, 2018). While the specified standpoint has mostly become obsolete in the context of modern society, it mirrors the perception of leadership perfectly. Namely, it shows that a leader is expected to communicate crucial values and ideas that will empower the rest of the team to work more effectively and achieve set goals.

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A more recent theoretical perspective of the Transformational Leadership theory implies that the role of a leader includes changing people’s understanding of their workplace responsibilities and rearranging their priorities. Namely, a transformational leader is expected to inspire team members and guide them to become self-sufficient in their workplace performance and decision-making, at the same time promoting corporate values (Roy et al., 2018). Therefore, similarly to the Trait Theory, the Transformational Leadership Theory positions a leader as a role model for staff members and the person that inspires the rest of the team to improve and show professional growth (Gandolfi and Stone, 2018). The focus on changing people and aspiring them can be viewed as the essential characteristic of leadership.

Management, in turn, concerns mostly guiding team members to deliver the expected results and resolve issues that may happen in the process. Applying the tenets of the Functional Theory to the process of management, one will realize that management is concerned primarily with the completion of a set of specific tasks and the achievement of certain measurable and time-bound objectives (Roy et al., 2018).

The Functional Theory places emphasis on the need to view management as a chain of interconnected activities and processes within a specific business setting, which provides a rather clear interpretation of the nature of management and its goals. Unlike leadership, which pursues the goals of shaping people’s perception of their work roles and responsibilities, as well as their attitudes, in general, management tends to have a less vague and more measurable focus. Thus, what lies in the focus of management and leadership respectively makes the fundamental difference between the two

Leadership and Management

Since there are significant differences between a leader and a manager, the approaches toward developing respective skills are also distinctively unique for leaders and managers, and often have little in common. To improve the quality of one’s leadership and foster the acquisition of respective leadership skills, one will need to consider the strategies promoting leadership and management development.

In addition, as the concept of skill development pertains to the notion of leadership, companies need to focus on talent management when promoting the development of leadership skills in their staff members. Since the current perception of leadership suggests that one can become a leader by training a specific skill set, it will be reasonable to invest in staff training so that each employee could gain the ability to lead (Lee et al., 2019).

Approaches for Developing Leaders and Managers

The process of developing managerial skills is quite diverse and may involve multiple steps for addressing a particular aspect of managing issues in the workplace. Traditionally, when addressing the notion of management and the acquisition of managerial skills, one mentions the importance of interacting with colleagues and gaining the ability to elicit information about the needs of staff members (Lee et al., 2019).

In addition, the prices of management skills development are traditionally focused primarily on gaining the qualities associated with strategic thinking, planning, and executing the established plans are typically related to the skills that a manager needs to possess to handle the challenges of coordinating the performance of a team (Ceri-Booms, Curşeu, and Oerlemans, 2017).

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Therefore, one may infer logically that the development of management skills also suggests training critical thinking and objective assessment of external and internal factors influencing the workplace environment. Moreover, it helps to pace the process of managing a specific project naturally. However, the specified approach is quite time-consuming. In addition, the described strategy has the disadvantage of subjectivity since the use of critical thinking requires taking a stance that may be muddied by one’s personal beliefs.

Another approach toward developing a manager includes learning to support the development of talents within a team and the creation of a team comprised of people with aspirations and clear goals. The proposed framework helps in understanding employees’ needs and the extent of their capabilities; moreover, it allows investing in staff members, making them a valuable asset to the organization. However, the specified strategy also prioritizes the individual needs of staff members over corporate goals, which may come at a price. In addition, the need to build a unique approach toward talent development for each employee will require multiple resources and a large amount of time.

The fourth and final strategy of gaining managerial skills is to develop an understanding of how organizational processes and tasks align. Thus, a manager can navigate organizational processes, evaluating the progress and locating the slightest deviations from the market path to key milestones. Consequently, once specific issues are noticed, a manager can apply critical thinking to elicit a strategy for solving the identified issue. The described framework introduces a clear structure and helps to establish smart goals. However, it may result in ignoring the personal needs of employees. Moreover, it suggests that rigid criteria for future development of the organization are set, which may affect the flexibility of the organizational strategy.

In contrast to the processes involved in the development of managers and the acquisition of management skills, the task of building a leader requires focusing on the improvement of communication with the target audiences and the creation of a positive role model. Specifically, to become an effective leader, one will need the personal image that others are likely to want to follow (Ceri-Booms et al., 2017).

Therefore, working on one’s communication skills, values, and strategies for self-presentation is important. In addition, as a leader, one has to be able to solve conflicts within a team. Thus, fostering the development of conflict management skills has to be seen as a critical part of building a leader (Magpili and Pazos, 2018). However, by far the most important aspect of being a leader involves the ability to inspire others. While the specified skill is quite difficult to learn, it makes the bulk of a good leader, which is why it has to be centered in the process of creating an effective leader.

The specified strategies of becoming a leader have their advantages and disadvantages. The creation of a positive personal image through management and self-development will allow one to provide staff members with a clear role model, yet it may stifle initiative, creativity, and individualism in staff members. Moreover, the suggested framework implies that any mistakes made by a leader may nullify the effects of their leadership. Nonetheless, a positive role model has the doubtless benefit of allowing a leader to keep the focus on personal and professional growth, thus introducing their team members to the concept of continuous improvement.

In turn, the development of leadership skills through the use of coaching and mentoring will allow building a very strong rapport and emotional connection with employees. However, the downside of the specified strategy concerns the overly strong reliance on the said rapport; thus, the role of personal factors in managing the relationships between a leader and staff members becomes far too large.

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Consequently, once the specified relationships are disrupted, employees may become highly unmotivated to perform. Furthermore, the specified tool may make staff members far too dependent on the support and coaching provided by a leader. Yet the application of coaching may also be used to boost confidence in employees. Furthermore, mentoring will allow team members to have an example of positive performance that they can use as a criterion for evaluating their progress.

Finally, the focus on education-based programs as the method of becoming a leader helps to set clear goals and milestones for their achievement, which is critical for a leader who is willing to develop professionally. Moreover, the use of education-based programs leads to increasing the extent of a leader’s knowledgeability and, therefore, allows them to address complex workplace issues successfully. However, one should be ready to invest a substantial amount of money into the process of professional development and training since education-based programs may be quite expensive. In addition, the quality of education in the said programs may vary, which is why selecting the one that will guarantee the perfect learning process may be quite difficult.

Role of the L&D Function in Leadership and Management Development

As established above, a leader must acquire new knowledge and gain new skills. Consequently, the significance of the Learning and Development (L&D) function in leadership is huge. In the organization’s under analysis, the L&D function has been established, yet its significance has been understated slightly, which has led to leaders defaulting on their professional learning. While the specified aspect of the target business environment might seem like a minor concern, it affects the company to a large extent. Particularly, innovative opportunities in improving the leadership function have been missed due to the lack of emphasis on the subject matter.

Example 1: Learning from Employees

When considering the organizations that have made a difference by applying the L&D principles uniquely and originally in their corporate settings, one should mention the concept of continuous learning by promoting knowledge and skills sharing among managers and employees. There is a plethora of skills and useful information that leaders can learn from their employees and subordinates.

Example 2: Self-Directed Learning

Another example of successful application of the L&D function in an organization involves self-learning in identifying and evaluating potential leaders. The focus on continuous professional improvement is critical for experts that are willing to stay relevant, which is why the introduction of self-directed learning is essential. Since the L&D function is rooted in learning as a concept, its basic premise can be easily translated into the organizational policy that is aimed at promoting regular updates of leaders’ skills and competencies.

Outcomes Evaluation

Assessing the results of one’s performance as a leader is another essential step on the way to professional excellence. The introduction of the L&D function, in turn, will help to construct the strategy that will allow leaders to perform a meticulous analysis of personal progress. The results of this analysis will inform the future progress and the choice of the area that a leader will have to explore as a part of their professional growth. For example, the L&D function can be used to monitor a leader’s progress by taking tests aimed at determining the level of a leader’s competency and outlining the aspects of leadership on which one might want to focus closer, such as time management, negotiation, and other fields.

Needs Assessment

Another critical aspect of being a leader in which the L&D function can help, the assessment of team members’ needs is instrumental to keeping them motivated. The experience from a local organization shows that L&D encourages cross-cultural communication, which, in turn, sparks the dialogue addressing the issue of needs of vulnerable groups. Thus, managers become aware f the concerns that the members of their teams may have.

Individual and Group Advising

Since L&D offers leaders an opportunity to develop insight into the needs of their subordinates, greater opportunities for advising performed on both individual and group levels emerge. At first glance, the L&D function is related to effective leadership and managerial development quite distantly. However, the example of a local organization shows that, when set as a priority, L&D allows taking the quality of leadership to the next level. Specifically, with the incorporation of IT and ICT into the business context and the process of advising both a team and its members individually, one can empower staff members and promote independence among them by offering to coach and mentoring via ICT devices (Magpili and Pazos, 2018).

Ownership and Success for Leadership and Management Development Programmes

Indicators of Success for Leadership and Management Development

As a leader, one has to be aware of one’s progress since any hindrances on the path toward improvement will result in keeping the entire team back. Therefore, a leader must select appropriate programs that will lead to building upon the existing knowledge base and skill set. As a result, a leader will be able to inspire their team to succeed and attain essential goals, including organizational ones, as well as to see that the team members in question set for their progress. However, for a leader to determine whether the key objectives are achieved, success criteria for their leadership function have to be established.

However, the task of determining effective leadership criteria is fraught with difficulties and multiple challenges due to the existence of different opinions regarding the nature of leadership, the elements that constitute it, and the extent of efficacy that a leader needs to show. Nonetheless, there are general indicators that can be used when compiling a set of standards for evaluating a leader’s progress.

The criteria in question can be categorized into several groups. These include the extent of a leader’s knowledge of the latest trends in managing a team, the knowledge of general theories that have warranted the title of the most commonly used ones, and the ability to transfer the obtained theoretical information into practice. Thus, among the criteria that an effective leader has to meet to qualify for guiding a team, especially the one comprised of interdisciplinary experts, one should mention four key standards.

The first one concerns the leader’s ability to gain new knowledge and apply innovative solutions based on the specified knowledge in the target organizational setting. The criterion mentioned above is, in fact, twofold since it demands that a leader be able to engage in self-directed learning and transform theoretical knowledge into practice. However, both notions imply that a leader should be capable of introducing the value-added practice into their performance.

Employee retention is another crucial indicator of successful leadership based on which leaders must be evaluated. While an employee’s decision to stay or leave may be defined by extraneous factors that are out of a leader’s reach, the general trend observed within a particular workplace setting has to be indicative of the propensity among staff members to stay. Therefore, the rates of the staff members that have left the company compared to the total number of people employed at the company need to be calculated on a monthly and yearly basis so that the retention trends could be identified.

Thus, a leader will be able to determine whether the motivation techniques and strategies used to increase employee engagement are functioning in the target environment. The calculation of the employee turnover rates can be seen as the alternative to the specified indicator since it will allow defining the same variable and inferring similar information regarding a leader’s ability to convince people to stay. The third criterion that a leader should consider is effective succession, which suggests that information should be transferred from one company member to another effectively and without any misconceptions happening in the process.

Finally, the indicators of participant satisfaction are another variable that can serve as the criterion for a leader’s performance. As a leader, one has to create an environment that can be characterized as welcoming to all team members, which is why the extent of team members’ satisfaction should be incorporated into the assessment. The levels of content among the target audiences can be recorded by using questionnaires and surveys and quantifying the results.

Methods to Ensure the Success of Leadership and Management Development

Context

Without feedback from staff members, evaluating the performance of a leader is barely possible. Therefore, the importance of feedback should not be underestimated when assessing the quality of leadership. Moreover, by establishing control over the quality and efficacy of leadership and management within the target organizational setting, one will avoid errors that will hamper the process of promoting change. In the organization in question, which operates in the telecommunication industry, the success of leadership is currently ensured with the help of 360-degree feedback, interviews and observations, and annual appraisals.

Examples

The 360-degree feedback will provide an objective assessment of a leader since several team members will offer their characterization of the leader in question. While the specified tool invites the possibility of biases, it will give a general sense of how the person in question is perceived and whether the leader’s guidance is effective. The use of interviews and questionnaires will help to obtain more detailed information, whereas annual appraisals will make the evaluation systematic and quantifiable to compare it with the previous records.

Reference List

Ceri-Booms, M., Curşeu, P. L., & Oerlemans, L. A. (2017) Task and person-focused leadership behaviors and team performance: A meta-analysis. Human Resource Management Review, 27(1), 178-192.

Ebbers, J. J., and Wijnberg, N. M. (2017) Betwixt and between: Role conflict, role ambiguity and role definition in project-based dual-leadership structures. Human Relations, 70(11), 1342-1365.

Gandolfi, F. and Stone, S. (2018) ‘Leadership, leadership styles, and servant leadership’, Journal of Management Research, 18(4), pp. 261-269.

Lee, A., Thomas, G., Martin, R., & Guillaume, Y. (2019) Leader-member exchange (LMX) ambivalence and task performance: The cross-domain buffering role of social support. Journal of Management, 45(5), 1927-1957.

Magpili, N. C., & Pazos, P. (2018) Self-managing team performance: A systematic review of multilevel input factors. Small Group Research, 49(1), 3-33.

Roy, F. L., Robert, M., and Giuliani, P. (2018) The concept of management innovation: definition, state of the art and future research avenues. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 35(1), 44-56.

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