Leadership and Management Skills Development

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Leadership and management skills are crucial for every individual who has to work with a group of people in any field. Leadership can be treated as an ability to influence others due to one’s personal qualities and values. Management, in its turn, deals with administration of an organisation and is also important for their functioning (DuBrin 2016). Although these two concepts are often used as synonyms or misinterpreted, each has a particular meaning because leaders and managers fulfil different functions and have purposes that are not similar. In conditions of rapidly changing and challenging business environment with high competition, the purpose of an organization is to find loyal customers and hold leading positions in the market thus indicating their performance.

Consequently, leadership and management are useful concepts that can be applied for business development. This essay attempts to interpret the concepts of leadership and management, discover distinctions between these two concepts, and analyse approaches to developing leaders and managers. It also studies the role of learning and development (L&D) function for supporting leadership and management development, identifies indicators of success for leadership and management development programmes, and suggests methods contributing to success of these programs.

Interpretation of the Concepts of Leadership and Management

Leadership and Management can be interpreted from different standpoints. At different time, researchers explain the essence and importance of these issues grounded on different conditions. One of the famous researchers who provided a distinction between managers and leaders was John Kotter. Thus, Kotter (1990) (cited in Lunenburg 2011, p. 1) claims that “leadership and management are two distinct, yet complementary systems of action in organisations.” In fact, the author distinguishes leadership as a tool for coping with change, while management is used for coping with complexity.

According to Kotter, (cited in Lunenburg 2011, p. 1), the leadership process comprises development of a vision for the organisation; coordination of people according to that vision using communication; and involvement of motivation to action using empowerment and providing basic need fulfilment. Also, leadership is characterised by bringing uncertainty and change to an organisation. As for the management process, it includes “planning and budgeting; organizing and staffing; and controlling and problem solving” (Lunenburg 2011, p. 1). Unlike leadership, the management process has a potential to reduce uncertainty and bring stability to an organisation.

The main schools of management thought are classical, of human relations, that of systems, and contingency. The classical school of management thought is the oldest one. Its major concern is to find the ways to manage organisations and their work more effectively (Witzel 2016).

This school comprises such areas of study as scientific management, administrative management, and bureaucratic management. The major representatives who developed the classical school are Taylor, Fayol, Weber, and Ford. For example, Fayol, as a management practitioner, argued about the universal character of management process. He claimed that management has certain functions, such as planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling. Max Weber contributed to the development of bureaucratic management and believed that loyalty and personal relationships have a negative impact on management.

The school of human relations emerged more than a century ago but still has a significant impact on management theory and practice. Its major contributors are Mayo, Maslow, and Hertzberg. The idea of this school is that a manager is expected to possess skills that empower the understanding of human behaviour in work conditions. Also, a manager should be able to motivate workers and satisfy their needs. On the whole, the school of human relations is concentrated on the concepts of communication, leadership, motivation, and group behaviour (Witzel 2016).

Systems and contingency theories belong to a group of modern management theories that grew up into schools. Systems theory schools attempts to treat management as a whole. These ideas are advocated by Barnard, Homans, and Simon. An organisation as a system consists of many interrelated and interdependent components that make up a functioning organism. Systems theorists similar to other contemporary scholars consider an organisation to ne an open system while traditional school believes it is a closed system. As an open system, an organisation is under the impact of environment as well as of changes inside an organisation. The idea is that a system can adapt to the changing conditions and preserve its effectiveness.

Contingency theory in turn suggests that there is no single approach that is perfect for an organisation due to its complexity. Consequently, there is no one correct managerial strategy able to satisfy the demands of a changing environment. One of the core ideas of this theory is that managerial strategies need to be grounded on relevant facts, which means that every situation in an organisation management demands an individual decisions and a careful analysis. The approach suggested by contingency theory is applicable to motivating, leading, and structuring an organization as well as to employee development and establishment of communication.

An effective manager possesses certain qualities and skills. Chartered Management Institute (CMI) singles out such essential management skills as influencing, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity, and team leadership (The Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership 2014). Also, adequate training is an important demand to provide effective work of first-time managers.

Also, it is important to consider the demands of technology, which is an integral component of any contemporary organization. Thus, in addition to technical competency, technology needs better people skills that comprise communication, network building and collaboration. Also, the Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership (2014) distinguishes top ten characteristics necessary for a manager. They include clear sense of purpose, strong values and personal integrity, commitment to developing others through coaching and mentoring, champion of diversity, and other features.

It is important to differentiate between leadership and management because these notions have different backgrounds and result in different outcomes for organisations. Leadership can be analysed through diverse leadership theories such as Trait Theories, Lewin’s Leadership styles, Behavioural Theories, Contingency Theory, Charismatic Leadership, Transactional and Transformational theories. Each of these theories determines the leadership style selected by an organisation. Moreover, both leadership and management have a direct impact on organisation’s performance.

For example, Trait Theory is one of early leadership theories. The traits of a leader were in the focus of leadership research in 1920s and 1930s because they could help to distinguish a leader from a nonleader (Robbins et al. 2013). Its purpose was to identify the features typical of leaders that other people do not possess. At that time, some of these traits included “physical stature, appearance, social class, emotional stability, fluency of speech, and sociability” (Robbins et al. 2013, p. 2017).

Nevertheless, the differentiation of all traits that differentiate a person with leadership talent is not possible due to their diversity and peculiarities of leaders in different spheres. Contemporary research focuses more on the leadership as process and define the traits related to it. Thus, effective leadership includes such traits as “drive, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self-confidence, cognitive and emotional intelligence, job-relevant knowledge, and extroversion” (Robbins et al. 2013, p. 2017). Another achievement of the present-day leadership research is the development of Big Five personality framework. It comprises such traits as extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience that are crucial for leaders in the changing environment.

Another theory that is worth mentioning is that of charismatic leadership. It is focused on the personality of a leader and the qualities that make people follow these individuals. After many attempts to perform the comprehensive analysis of charismatic leaders and summarise their typical characteristics, the following differentiating features were revealed. Thus, a charismatic leader is expected to have a vision, be able to articulate this vision, have a desire to take risk on the way to achieving this vision, is sensitive to needs of followers and demands of the environment, and demonstrates extraordinary behaviours (Robbins et al. 2013).

A significant benefit of charismatic leadership is high performance and satisfaction of the followers, which is proved by resent studies. One of the reasons for such results is high motivation of people who work with charismatic leaders. Frequently, these employees are ready to work extra and take much effort to be similar to their leaders (Robbins et al. 2013). Also, the study by Howell and Frost (cited in Robbins et al. 2013, p. 224) revealed that individuals who worked under a charismatic leader generated more ideas, produced better results, reported higher job satisfaction, and showed stronger bonds of loyalty. On the whole, the major role of a charismatic leader is to inspire people to think in new directions and work effectively.

One of the leadership theories that imply most motivation is that of transformational leadership. It is a popular theory frequently adopted by companies focused on culture and its importance for employee satisfaction not less than on high performance and profit. James Burns is considered to be the first who developed and introduced the concept of transformational leadership (Nongard 2014).

The researchers who worked on this type of leadership developed their own definitions in the following years, but the core components of transformational leadership remained unchanged and comprised motivation and inspiration. In addition, transformational leadership involves mutual stimulation of leaders and followers to reach common goals and improve general performance. Usually, followers respect, trust, and admire transformational leaders. The concept of transformational leadership consists of four major components, which are idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualised consideration (Nongard 2014).

Summarising, it should be mentioned that transformational leadership theory can be successfully applied in diverse practical settings. One of the tasks of a transformational leader is to develop a vision that will appeal to followers and challenge them to achieve something new and better than they have. Finally, a transformational leader is a confident and critically-thinking person, who is able to make decisions and is optimistic about the vision and its implementation.

Distinctions between the Concepts of Leadership and Management

The concepts of leadership and management are often used interchangeably and managers in companies are usually addressed as leaders. Nevertheless, these notions are different. Murphy and Murphy (2018) treat the problem of distinguishing leadership from management as the ‘Gordian Knot’ that needs to be cut because these notions have meaningful differences. Firstly, a leader and a manager are two different positions. A manager is a person who occupies a managerial position in an organization and performs certain functions according to his or her duties and responsibilities.

As opposed to a manager, a leader may not hold a managerial position because any person can become a leader even without having authoritative positions in an organisation. In fact, a manager is an employee hired by a company to perform such significant functions as planning, organising, leading and controlling. Consequently, leadership is frequently explained as a component of management. Still, not all managers can succeed as leaders or have impact on other employees. At the same time, leaders are followed not due to their position in an organisation but because of their personal characteristics, behaviour, as well as values and beliefs they share with other people.

Arruda (2016) differentiates nine aspects that explain the major differences between managers and leaders. The first aspect is that a leader develops a vision which is followed by individuals who share similar values while managers create goals that have to be achieved. Vision presented by leaders is a source of inspiration for other people and a tool that stimulates their involvement in diverse activities. Moreover, leaders are able to disclose the potential of employees and use it to lead those people to new achievements. Managers are usually more focused on setting goals and developing plans for their achievement. Also, an important aspect of managerial activity is evaluation of the outcomes.

The function of a manager is to control, in contrast to leaders who inspire people. Secondly, leaders bring in change, and managers are concentrated on preservation of existing achievements. Innovations are integral to leaders’ plans because they are aimed at improving of their organisation, their followers, and themselves (Arruda 2016). Managers are also involved in improvement measures but they usually deal with the existing systems and processes. Challenging innovations are not typical of managers.

The third aspect that helps to differentiate between leaders and managers is uniqueness. Thus, leaders are characterised by developing their exclusive ideas. At the same time, managers prefer adopting already existing ideas and styles and follow them. One more issue that differs between leaders and managers is goal-setting. The distinction is that leaders have a strong motivation to reach bigger goals even without regular stimulation or recognition of the other people. For managers, short-term goals are more typical. Moreover, they perform better with rewards and regular approval of their actions.

Another difference deals with the aspect of personal development and growth (Arruda 2016). Leaders are usually concerned about learning something new, which they consider a necessary component of growth. At the same time, managers frequently use skills and knowledge they already have. One more difference is related to activity of managers and leaders. Leaders are focused on individuals they interact with for reaching the goals in accordance with the formulated vision. Managers, on the contrary, are more concentrated on systems and structures that are used to reach the goals and pay less attention to human resources (Arruda 2016). The type of activity is another distinguishing feature between leadership and management. Leaders more frequently act as coaches without strict instructions, while managers are directors and set certain tasks with definite guidelines to be completed. Finally, the surroundings of leaders and managers also differ. Leaders are surrounded by followers who are the people with similar values and have the same ideas and vision (Arruda 2016). In contrast to leaders, managers are in charge of other employees and coordinate their work following the existing instructions.

Leadership intends to answer the question ‘why?’ while management is more interested in ‘how?’ the things are happening (Hancott 2016). Leaders prefer acting strategically and managers demonstrate tactics. The main components that provide leadership active functioning are relationships among the people involved and culture while systems and hierarchy are more significant for management. The type of learning in leadership is usually innovative and in management it is conventional (Hancott 2016). Communication in leadership is informal, implying diverse networks. Management subscribes to more simple, formal and structured communication. Also, leadership is more tolerant to change and risk than management. As for addressing change, leadership is usually “leading, embracing, proactive,” and management is “managing, accepting, reactive” (Hancott 2016, p. 34).

Furthermore, the difference is observed in the major tasks typical of these two concepts. Leadership deals with both internal and external customers, communicates the vision of the company, and “pulls” people compared to management, which deals with internal customers, follows certain processes, and “pushes” people. The process of making a decision in leadership is guided by intuition, and in management logic plays a major role. Finally, as for the traits necessary for leaders and managers, the following aspects should be mentioned. Leaders should possess such traits as integrity, honesty, trust, vision, passion, risk-taking, and implications for continuous learning (Hancott 2016). Managers, on the contrary, are expected to demonstrate such traits as expertise, efficiency, preservation, and be risk-averse. On the whole, leadership implies more communication and empowerment whereas management is responsible for organisation and control.

Nevertheless, despite the evident differences, both management and leadership are significant for the sustainable development of companies and their success in the market. The major fundamental elements of any business provided by management include planning, motivating, organising and controlling (Hancott 2016). Planning presupposes the evaluation of opportunities and threats faced by a company as well as providing guidelines for achieving high effectiveness. Motivating includes interventions that are helpful in achieving the identified goals. Organising implies assigning tasks to appropriate people and distribution of resources necessary for every task. Finally, controlling includes determining standards for a company’s performance and comparing the achieved results to the previously set goals (Hancott 2016). The fundamental elements provided by leadership include envisioning, establishing trust, communicating, and empowering (Hancott 2016). Envisioning presupposes the definition of a vision and purpose to follow, which are usually oriented to the result. Establishing trust is an important component which makes the company reliable, trustworthy, and consistent in decisions and following the vision. As for communicating, it comprises distribution of information about the necessity of constant change and translating its essence to all stakeholders. After all, empowering implies a high level of commitment and demonstration of shared vision (Hancott 2016). On the whole, while both concepts are meaningful for contemporary companies, leadership contributed more to the image of a company and its successful performance.

Approaches for Developing Leaders and Managers

The process of developing both leaders and managers can be grounded on different approaches depending on the initial purposes. First of all, both formal and informal approaches can be used. These approaches are used in training of managers and leaders at education based programmes, as well as through secondments, job rotation, special projects, shadow boards, coaching and mentoring, and other opportunities applicable in every particular situation. Earlier, major focus of organisation’s investment was on formal education and training approach. Nevertheless, many organisations prefer more informal approaches such as mentoring, temporary or stretch assignments, and job rotation (Becker & Bish 2017). Informal approaches can be more effective in the contemporary conditions because they allow training in the real work settings.

Another opportunity for developing managers and leaders is the application of competency frameworks. These frameworks are usually developed by research facilities and professional institutions to define the essence of certain occupations. For example, Institute of Managers and Leaders in Australia developed IML management competency framework that can be used as a guide in training of managers because it provide 34 core competencies an effective manager should possess (IML management competency framework 2018). Another example of a framework for managers is provided in the study by Tamkin (n.d.). It allows measuring management capability on the basis of manager’s education and qualifications, training, experience, and practice.

Assessment and development centres provide a brilliant opportunity to share real experiences related to leadership and management. In these centres, learners have a possibility to reflect on their own practice and listen to more experienced colleagues. Such interventions have a potential to improve the development of leaders and managers on the whole and stimulate the reduction of typical mistakes in particular.

Finally, a significant role training of managers belongs to National Occupational Management Standards based Management qualifications. In the United Kingdom, they are usually developed by Chartered Management Institute and Institute of Leadership and Management (2018). These organisations develop the lists of skills, knowledge and personal abilities necessary for success of managers and leaders. Finally, employee networks can also be used for developing leadership and management skills (UK Commission for Employment and Skills 2010). They provide a mechanism that allows employees to invest in their own skills.

L&D Function for Supporting Leadership and Management Development

Learning and development (L&D) is usually one of the functions performed by HR service. In the majority of organizations, L&D is developed to support business needs. Nevertheless, many organisations shift the focus of L&D function to achieving alignment and related challenges (CIPD 2015). On the whole, the core goal of L&D is to improve organisational and individual performance.

The interventions organised within L&D comprise the establishment of the current needs of an organisation as well as design and delivery of learning and development interventions. The other functions of L&D include identification and assessment of potential leaders; advising on individual and group development; evaluation of the organisation’s outcomes; and justification of investment in leadership and management development. All of the mentioned functions are crucial for an organization due to their contribution to performance and sustainability.

Indicators of Success for Leadership and Management Development Programs

Leadership and management development programs have different structure and purposes to meet the needs of every organisation. Consequently, the outcomes of such programs can vary as well. Nevertheless, there are certain indicators that allow assessing the effectiveness and success of leadership and management development programs. One of the important aspects that are the focus of such programs is the development of leadership character (Crossan et al. 2013). It is expected that education programs are able to build a model of leadership character with its strengths. Therefore, the program can be considered successful in case its participant demonstrate business character in their work afterwards.

Some other indicators include individual performance evidence, effective succession, retention of key employees, value added indicators, and participant satisfaction indicators. For example, individual performance presupposes the success of every person involved in the education program. Effective succession is an important factor because it indicates the ability of a leader or a manager to identify and develop new leaders who will come to change the current leaders and drive an organisation on the way to achieving its vision. Retention of key employees is a significant factor because employees make a human capital of every organisation.

In case an organisation invests in training of workers, retention is a way to preserve the valuable capital. Finally, an education program can be evaluated by participant satisfaction indicators. It can be provided through surveying the participants about the program, its benefits and disadvantages as well as opportunities for improvement. It is also possible to use a classic approach to evaluation, which includes validation and evaluation itself. Validation is intended to answer if the people learnt what was intended while evaluation assesses the application of the obtained knowledge and experience.

Methods to Ensure the Success of Leadership and Management Development Programs

Before a leadership and management development (LMD) program is launched, it is advisable to ensure its success and thus avoid losses of funding and prevent dissatisfaction of participants. There are two main methods that can be applied to contribute to the success of this program. Thus, these methods include involvement of different stakeholders, setting SMART goals, and meeting the needs of future participants. The involvement of different stakeholders provides an opportunity to evaluate the program from diverse angles and reveal its strong and weak points. Managers, staff members, LMD providers, program participants, their peers, and other groups can be involved as stakeholders.

The use of SMART goals in turn allows the creation of a program with measurable outcomes. For example, participants reveal possibilities for promotion or salary growth that can be obtained due to training in talent management programmes. As for meeting the needs of participants, LMD programs should consider interests and current problems of organisations they are going to involve to ensure their interest in these programs and contribute to success.


Summarising, it should be said that the concepts of leadership and management, although actively discussed in literature, need further analysis and deeper investigation. Despite their evident similarity and frequent misuse, these are two different concepts because leaders and managers perform specific functions in an organisation. Thus, leaders are called to develop visions while manages create goals; leaders stimulate change while managers preserve the existing achievements; leaders take risks and manages are expected to control them; leaders act as coaches while managers direct, etc.

Currently, one of the challenges that organisations face is the need for developing effective managers and leaders. This problem is addresses by learning and development function that is realised due to a variety of leadership and management development programs. Still, these programs demand a careful approach because not all ao them will be effective for every specific organisation.

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