Management and Leadership: Two Distinct but Complementary Systems


Kotter (1990) argued that management and leadership have distinct characteristics but also complement each other. The difference between leadership and management is sometimes difficult to define. This is due to the fact that healthy organizations have leaders who perform similar duties and roles as those of the managers. On many occasions, the roles of managers and leaders overlap. However, research suggests that despite the overlap in the roles involved in management and leadership, the two activities are not similar (Bass, 2010). In fact, the point at which these two overlap is subject to debate (Yukl, 2010). Scholars have suggested that the leaders and managers bring different but useful contributions to the organization. This research topic was chosen because it is relevant to organizations today and it would provide the way forward for managers and leaders in the organizations.

Managers of organizations are usually expected to lead. However, it is never certain that they would lead effectively. For optimal effectiveness, companies require both strong management and strong leadership. With the changing business environment, leaders are expected to leave their comfort zones and strive to inspire and persuade the employees. The managers, on the other hand, are expected to ensure the smooth functioning of the organization.

Leadership in organizations mainly involves the setting of a strategic vision. The employees are then inspired to achieve it. Good leaders find ways to motivate the employees to achieve the organization’s purpose and goal. Such leaders also demand a high level of ethics among the employees and other senior staff in the organization. This is necessary to reduce the cases of fraud within the organization since such activities may cause the company to collapse.

Leaders are role models since they set an example. They also believe in dealing with first things first and believe that loyalty is the greatest virtue. Leaders may under-promise but always over-deliver. On the other hand, management mainly entails execution. After the leader sets the vision, the manager is responsible for its implementation. Managers would ensure that the existing policies and regulations are followed by the workers in order for the organization to operate as expected. Management of resources is also vital so as to ensure that the organization operates within its annual budget. Good management also involves the motivation of the employees in order to ensure employee satisfaction. This is deemed necessary in order to ensure that employees perform effectively and efficiently with an aim of making the organization profitable and sustainable.

Leadership usually yields long-term impacts while management yields a short-term goal. The decisions made by leaders are meant to safeguard the future of the company. In order for employees to achieve the organization’s goal, the leaders ensure that they are motivated. On the other hand, managers mainly manage the day-to-day activities of the organization (Lunenburg, 2011). There is some element of supervision of the employees and the managers ensure that the tasks are completed with the expected quality and within the set deadlines. Leadership also involves taking the organization to the next level. The leader needs to be creative in order to define the next big thing. Such initiatives motivate the employees and give meaning to work. However, management involves the efficient execution of the plan.

Organizations usually define management and leadership interchangeably. This is the case since the two positions have overlapping roles. One of the similarities between the two is that they both involve human interactions. In this case, personalities and characters are vital requirements. Therefore, management and leadership occur at all levels of management. The Chief Executive Officer, for example, exercises more of leadership than management since he provides the company’s vision and plans on how to achieve it. For the manager, on the other hand, he would rarely go beyond determining the company’s next project.

It is evident that good leadership does not guarantee proper management. Proper management, on the other hand, does not guarantee good leadership. Therefore, leaders require having good management skills in order to be able to transform their visions into action. This would enable them ensure the successful implementation of their vision. A good combination of effective management and leadership is required to ensure the success of an organization (Zaleznik, 1997).


Literature Review

This section of the paper will include the various related literature relevant to the problem statement. The literature selected would be current and provide information about the management and leadership used in particular settings in organizations. This would also help determine the extent to which various other authors have researched on the topic. The areas that have not been investigated would show the gaps that exist. It would be important for the current study to bridge the gaps that other researchers have left.


This section of the paper will describe in detail how the research study will be carried out. The method to be used will include the description of the study area to be considered, the participants in the study, the tools to be used and procedures to be employed for data collection. The description of how the participants will be selected and recruited will also be put in detail. The proper sampling techniques should be selected in order to ensure that the sample of participants to be selected would be appropriate for the study. For this study, several companies will be randomly selected within the study area in order to study the various leadership and management styles used in the companies. The participants would be selected randomly in order to ensure that the results are not biased. One of the tools to be used for the study would be the questionnaire. This would be a set of questions that would be used to get information about leadership and management in the organizations.

Data analysis

This section will constitute the various ways in which the data collected will be analysed. Various tools (statistical tools) will be used to analyze the data in order to enable data interpretation. The data from questionnaires may be analyzed using MS Excel or other advanced statistical software such as SPSS. MS Excel may be used to conduct descriptive statistics. Pivot tables are also useful for data analysis.


This section of the paper will provide an interpretation of the results obtained after data analysis. This would provide an explanation of how management and leadership are distinct but at the same time complementary. The trends observed from the companies studied would provide the relevant information as far as leadership and management is concerned.

Conclusion and recommendations

This section of the paper will summarize the whole paper including the results obtained and the interpretation of the results. Recommendations will also be made concerning management and leadership in an organizational setting.


Bass, B. (2010). The bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research and managerial applications. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Kotter, J.P. (1990). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 68(1), 103,111.

Lunenburg, F. (2011). Leadership versus management: A Key distinction – at least in theory. International Journal of Management, Business, And Administration, 14(1), 1-4.

Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Zaleznik, A. (1997). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 55(1), 67-78.

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BusinessEssay. "Management and Leadership: Two Distinct but Complementary Systems." July 9, 2023.