Leadership Behavior and Skills Comparing and Contrasting

Leaders are noted by their characteristics, which separate them from managers. Both leaders and managers can assume the two roles of management and leadership, but often leaders do not have to be managers to lead. In addition, managers find it easier to manage, while they also embrace leadership characteristics. A leader is identifiable by their achievement, ambition, energy, tenacity, and initiative. In a typical group or an organizational setting, a leader will perform specific actions related to his or her ambition for self or for the group. He or she will have to accomplish tasks and influence the group to reach milestones and to finish projects. The leader will concentrate on certain features of the task at hand and motivate followers to also channel energy to certain aspects of the job that are critical to success. He or she will demonstrate staying power that is needed to do hard missions and to go over obstacles. Rather than react to situations and emerging challenges, the leader opts to formulate a strategy for seizing opportunities and missing threats to the successful execution of a goal (Yukl, 2012).

Managers take on different functions in an organization. There has to be an organization for management to exist. However, the organization can be either formal or informal. Managers are responsible for the functions that ensure the smooth running of the organization. They serve as hinges and gears in various divisional and bureaucratic functions of an organized group. They promote formality in the group by running aspects such as control, budgeting, problem solving, planning, and staffing. Depending on the size of groups, managers can also serve as leaders or serve as the main implementers of leadership plans. In contrast, leaders deal with people and visions. Managers have to tackle issues that both people and machines are performing. They have to put together elements of production and implement strategies for boosting production, cutting waste, or even halting production (Yukl, 2012).

An explicit description of leaders and managers is difficult because other than functions, most leaders rely on functional skills to lead. These functional skills are management attributes; therefore, leaders are people managers in essence (Yukl, 2012). When looking at the leaders and managers in this sense, their difference would only arise periodically as reflected by the task. Thus, at any level of the organization, leaders and managers have roles to play and they can assume the roles both formally and informally. In the end, the effectiveness of leadership and management is measurable by goal achievement and organizational efficiency respectively.

The idea of leadership is dynamic, but it is different from that of management. Leadership can be good or bad. Leadership occurs when an individual belonging to a group acts in ways that modify the behaviors, attitudes, and intentions of other people in the group. Therefore, leadership is a show of influence. It appears visibly as a non-coercive attempt to ensure that individuals are accepting an idea and working with the notions of the idea towards the fulfillment of a particular endeavor (Bertocci, 2009). Leadership is the deliberate taking of a guiding position in a group or an organization and using the powers as the rationale for leading. In such cases, leadership is formal because it is recognition of a position in a group. Filling the given position is akin to filling the leadership role of the group. On the other hand, aspects of leadership, as defined above, can still manifest in groups minus the position. In such cases, leadership is informal.

The size of an organization influences the scale of operations. The size determines the preferred and workable modes of governing costs, efficiency, and productivity. The nature of activity determines the formation of groups of people that make up a unit. This becomes the span of management (Yukl, 2012).

Where the span of management is big, the management is forced to consider delegation because there are different authority levels. At the same time, the span of management and the nature of organizational activities determine the preferred structure of authority transfer in the organization. Decentralization as a way of diffusing authority to enhance decision-making and efficiency is a typical effect of large sized organizations with multiple groups of people (Yukl, 2012).

A manager with a small span of control is able to establish close contact with workers and have a firm grasp on operations. On the other hand, a large span of control leads to looseness in control and forces the manager to prioritize relations and contact based on priority of tasks. In a centralized organization, power and decision making authority is at the top of the organization and follows a hierarchical order. Managers at lower levels are restricted to making decisions based on a narrow range of options. They mainly perform supervisory duties and report to the next level of management. On the other hand, in decentralized organizations, even low level unit managers have a wide range of options for decision making, which affect work performance directly in their respective management units (Griffin & Moorhead, 2014).

The size of the management unit affects the ease of implementing formal rules and procedures. In small management units, formal rules appear as impediments to quick decision-making and feedback, which is not favored sometimes. Even in their presence, managers would opt to use participative management options to involve unit members in decision-making. In large organizations where there are senior, middle and low levels of management, each subsequent level along the hierarchy requires additional information to inform decision-making. Therefore, in middle and high level management levels, managers will behave in participatory ways as compared to low levels of management, where the information input need only covers the given unit of operation (Griffin & Moorhead, 2014).

Compare and contrast leadership effectiveness studies from Michigan & Ohio State University

Michigan leadership studies identify employee orientation and product orientation kinds of leadership styles. Leaders have to show task-orientation and relationship-orientation to succeed. They also need to embrace behavior and participative aspects of leadership. The Michigan leadership studies found out that the general supervision of employees works better than tight control. At the same time, focusing on employee issues rather than production issues makes leaders effective (Lussier & Achu, 2010).

In contrast, the Ohio leadership studies tackle the concept of leadership within two clusters of behavior. There is the initiating structure and consideration. Considerate leaders build relationships, trust, respect, and camaraderie. The studies also point out that the initiating structure of leaders makes them organize work, define relationships and roles, make patterns of organization, and create channels of communication and preferred ways of getting jobs done (Lussier & Achu, 2010).

A similar feature of the two studies is that they both look at leadership from the stylistic perspective. They all consider the appropriate styles that would make a leader effective. Another similarity is that both studies have two key clusters of understanding, where leaders can embrace either or all features of a given cluster and succeed. However, they would eventually drift towards a given behavior cluster of the two provided in both Michigan and Ohio leadership studies. The two studies do not look at the definitions of leadership and leaders. Instead, they all focus on actions and behaviors. Both studies are popular in behavioral leadership discourse and were initiated in the 1940s and lasted throughout the 1950s. They are all relevant today in both research and practice (Daft, 2011).

The characteristics of the initiating structure, behavior of leadership as depicted by Ohio studies closely relates to the task orientation style examined by the Michigan studies. They both consider behaviors that get the job done. However, the Ohio studies are two-dimensional because they review the two behavior clusters, as independent of each other. In comparison, the Michigan studies have leadership behaviors existing on opposite ends. This makes the studies linear. As a result, there are only two options for the Michigan one, while there are four options derived from a matrix structure of the two main clusters of style in the Ohio alternative (Daft, 2011).

For the lower levels of management, task orientation is important because performance is often at state. The only way that low level managers are evaluated is through job performance basis. Therefore, task orientation, which allows them to have tangible goals and feedback for next level management, is important. At the low level in organizations, managers operate like subordinate employees. They receive instructions on job performance and they are expected to execute the instructors with very little room for modification. At the middle level of management, managers have to consider the input of lower level managers as much as they look at work related information when they are making decisions. Therefore, they need a balance of both task orientation and people orientation. They many embrace a combination of initiating structure and consideration behavior. The tasks they assign to low-level managers have to be considerate of their capacity, personal situation, and organizational needs. The core activities of management and its overall structure will define the suitability of middle level managers to choose task or relationship orientations.

At the high level of management, people management is critical because it determines the achievement of strategic objectives. While senior managers can get feedback by monitoring activities and tasks occurring in the organization, their only way of implementing changes or maintaining progress is by consulting, directing, controlling, and managing other managers. Work happens through delegation and relationships become prominent because they affect the actual degree of compliance shown by the junior management staff. The higher levels of management have no choice but to embrace consideration and relationship oriented leadership styles. The ability of the senior level management to implement their vision of the organization relies on understanding and directing the motivating factors of employees in the organization. The goal is to create an organization-citizenship behavior, whose attainment happens best through a relationship oriented leadership style (Yukl, 2012).


Bertocci, D. I. (2009). Leadership in organizations: There is a difference between leaders and managers. Lanham: University Press of America.

Daft, R. L. (2011). Leadership (5th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Griffin, R., & Moorhead, G. (2014). Organizational behavior – Managing people and organizations. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Lussier, R. N., & Achu, C. F. (2010). Leadership: Theory, application & skill develoment. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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