The role of a leader in a team is often gravely understated or misunderstood. As the main supervisor and the giver of direction, an effective leader has to possess a mix of personal and practical traits that help her or him to achieve the best results. In the workplace, the organizational practices that are employed are the biggest factor for the success of a project. When time is of the essence, and the available recourses are limited, their management becomes crucial for the completion of any goal. Resource allocation by the leader is a valuable skill in the workplace and can either set the right pace or hinder the progress, depending on how well it is performed. Utilization of various techniques that promote the right values to the team and the knowledge to make the process as efficient as possible is a necessity. Such qualities need to be present in any leader or manager that aims to be an effective part of the team.
As a starting point, peculiarities of management and leadership, as well as similarities and differences between the two positions will be discussed. There is, expectedly, a great number of differences, and a fruitful discussion is impossible without establishing them. The distinction can also help to set the workplace roles better and understand the most important factors for success. In this paper, the basic principles of both being a manager and a leader will be discussed, and a historical profile will be presented as an example of effective leadership. Examining the most prominent qualities and traits of a leader and their profile can allow one to learn new techniques of operating in the workplace together. In the process of discussion, a better understanding of the core topics is expected to be achieved, and the promotion of further learning will be encouraged as well.
Leadership and Management
What Is Leadership?
First, one needs to understand the concept of leadership and the kind of work it entails. There are several definitions of this term, but most of them still share some similarities. Leadership is best described as a practice, or art, of motivating other people to work towards a particular common goal (Ward, 2020). Ward (2020, p. 3) states, that “a leader inspires others to act while simultaneously directing the way that they act”. A good leader can provide a framework of action to others.
Such tactics can be utilized to make workers achieve better results, develop new strategies, or simply meet the needs of a company. The most important aspect of a leader is their ability to inspire others and understand the needs of individuals under their influence (Ward, 2020). A leader needs to form a nuanced perspective on the work process as a whole and to effectively pass on core ideas and needs to subordinates. Clear communication is a requirement, as people need to understand the main goals of their job as well as their roles and impact on the overall workflow (Ward, 2020). Good and effective leadership is the process of integrating new techniques into the workplace and managing available resources to accomplish any goals.
Another description of a leader is someone who envisions the future to set the right priorities for others. A strategic approach helps give the work a sense of direction and to keeps people motivated. As stated by Bariso (2015, p. 6), leadership “is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal”. A good leader does not necessarily have to engage in the work directly or to go into the intricacies of a project, as that can be left to others. What they need to do, however, is lead others and make sure that the team is moving in the right direction.
What Is Management?
Management is similar in its goals to leadership but is different in the approach and definition. Some people define management as the administration and coordination of tasks to achieve a particular goal. A manager develops and sets an organization’s strategy, regulates staff to adhere to it in the workplace. The work of an effective manager is essential for the performance of a company and is relied upon by all the other workers. The main concern of a manager is the application of resources and time (What is management? Definitions and functions, 2020). Since both are limited and necessary for the completion of any task, the manager must assist others with working within their constraints. Managers adjust the workflow to make it more efficient, divide the work, and delegate it to others if necessary (What is management? Definitions and functions, 2020). A manager is also someone who supports proper cooperation between individuals and groups of people in the organization, making sure that everyone can communicate and effectively work together (What is management? Definitions and functions, 2020). Management requires a good balance of both informal and formal approaches to achieve goals and to be understood by everybody. A manager is an authority that can be listened to and communicated with.
Another important aspect of managers’ responsibilities is their role in evaluating and grading other people’s performance. Measuring performance is needed to access the strengths and weaknesses of one’s colleagues and motivate people to perform better. Standards for team goals must be set so that every person has a good understanding of their tasks and the ways to achieve them. As noted by the website Business Jargons, management does not depend on the structure or size of an organization and is primarily goal-oriented (What is management? n.d.). A manager works in close relation to their colleagues and controls the process from within, organizing interactions, and adjusting the pace of work. The work of a manager, all in all, is a continuous process of quality checking and controlling the work of others.
The Key Similarities and Differences
After the defining qualities of both management and leadership were discussed, it is possible to determine the differences between the two terms. First of all, there is a clear divide in the approach these positions use. Leaders are primarily required to set a distinct goal and develop possible approaches to reaching it, not necessarily to participate in the work process itself. Managers, on the other hand, take an active part in the completion of any task and are indispensable. Successful leaders create opportunities for the employees, while managers help workers to utilize them to the full extent. Another distinction is the difference in character. Influential leaders need to be charismatic and opportunistic, with a good eye for potential business ventures and quick-thinking skills. Such traits make a great leader but are not necessary for the work of a manager. Managers must have patience and conviction, to show the ability to assist others and develop effective work strategies.
Despite some differences, there are also clear similarities between leadership and management. Both practices require good communication skills and the ability to cooperate with other people. A leader needs to be well-articulated to deliver their ideas, and a manager needs to effectively perform in tandem with their co-workers. Another similarity they share is that both work with limited time and resources. When accomplishing a task, the amount of time that can be spent on each of its parts is strictly regulated, and experts of leadership and management must work within such constraints. A leader must see to the completion of a task, and a manager needs to create methods of helping people complete their work on time. Another similarity between these positions is their high entry-level. One needs a good amount of knowledge and understanding of human psychology to be an effective and influential leader or manager. Higher education is, understandably, another requirement that both positions share.
Roles and Responsibilities
Both jobs have a distinct role in the work environment, complete with their tasks and responsibilities. The role of a leader is to empower others by proposing new ideas and strategies. A good leader is a risk-taker who seeks innovation and optimization above all. Leaders use their position to motivate people and find new solutions to existing problems (Leadership vs management, n.d.). These professionals specialize in cultivating faith in others and raising overall worker morale. Their job is primarily people-oriented, as they have to encourage improvement and development from others (Leadership vs management, n.d.). The leader is also largely accountable for the final product of people’s work, bearing responsibility as the head of the operation. A good professional must also listen to feedback and establish strong communications, take the information they get from other specialists and apply it to improve the workflow going forward.
A manager occupies many niches in any organization’s work, overseeing the progress of other employees, evaluating performance, managing various tasks, and many other duties. The role of the manager cannot be overstated, as the coordination they provide serves to improve the work efficiency of everyone else. Managers serve as a compass for the organization, keeping the employees on the right track (The Telegraph, 2017). They help to delegate various tasks to individual workers based on personal qualifications and the needs of the company (The Telegraph, 2017). Good communication skills are a necessity in their job, as managers have to be on good terms with other people and guarantee a healthy work atmosphere. Managers are also responsible for enforcing company policy and checking deadlines, making sure the workers accomplish their tasks according to schedule (The Telegraph, 2017). They should ideally possess a keen insight into the inner workings of their occupation and have well-developed critical thinking skills. Managers are responsible for setting specific, defined goals for the future, and monitoring their completion (The Telegraph, 2017). As the supervisors for all other employees, they are also in charge of hiring new staff, training, and problem-solving.
A Leader Profile
The person I have chosen to examine is Martin Luther King Jr., an American activist and the prominent leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. I have decided to talk about this man because I think his public image and skills portray an iconic leader, an ideal for many to strive towards. Martin Luther King Jr. is forever cemented in history as one of the great political figures, and his various accomplishments are impactful to this day.
Biography and Impact
Born on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. had a tremendously large influence on the history of civil rights in America. One of the most well-known figures in American history, the man has laid the groundwork for many equality movements after his time. Born and raised in Georgia, the man came from a middle-class black family and received a solid education (Lewis and Carson, 2020). During his formative years, Martin L. K. witnessed both the cruelty of racism and the peacefulness of acceptance. The experiences in the different parts of the US formed his worldview and gave him the conviction to devote his later life to fighting for equality. The wisdom gained from his mentor, Benjamin Mays, and his college years inspired King to take a call to action and start his spiritual and sociological journey (Lewis and Carson, 2020).
King became acquainted with the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and graduated from college. After that, preaching for the end of segregation and racial equality became his main calling (Lewis and Carson, 2020). Being a scholar with a sociology degree, the man led the African-American Civil Rights Movement in its many attempts to make the lives of black people better (Lewis and Carson, 2020). King was also responsible for the creation of SCLC (The Southern Christian Leadership Conference), an organization fighting for the rights of African-Americans, which laid the groundwork for many of today’s freedoms (Lewis and Carson, 2020). The man used his platform to organize meetings and demonstrations, spread a message, and discuss the issues of race, violence, discrimination, and prejudice.
Martin Luther King, Jr. made an unforgettable impression upon the whole world with determination and conviction to enact societal change. His methods were easy to understand for an average person, and he could gather support from both the white and black communities. He had a major role in various peaceful demonstrations, starting with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and advocated for cooperation between black and white people. Martin Luther King Jr’s work has led to the approval of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the fair Housing act, and the monumental March On Washington (Lewis and Carson, 2020). Unfortunately, despite his many attempts and the impact of his campaigns, some whites were not accepting of either him or other black people. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony of Lorraine Motel situated in Memphis (Lewis & Carson, 2020). His death sparked an immense backlash in more than 100 cities, with mass riots and violence quickly ensuing. Despite his tragic passing, the man’s insistence on a non-violent approach, the many affluent, moving speeches are still being remembered to this day. The willpower emanating from his persona inspired countless people, in America and other countries alike.
Skills and Traits
Many traits Martin Luther King Jr. exhibited make him an exceptionally good leader. His high charisma and great rhetorical abilities helped to convince and guide people, and the peaceful approach to his campaigns enabled him to garner support. The man presented innovation and changes into the field of Civil Rights, managing to achieve years’ worth of progress in his lifetime. The ability to propose new ideas in a compelling and accessible manner displayed by Martin Luther King Jr. is also one of the essential qualities of any leader. Another important aspect of his leadership is the ability to empathize with others. Emotional sensitivity helps the person in charge to connect with their colleagues and subordinates, and King Jr. displays this skill in his many speeches.
The cause that he supported was rooted in the presence of injustice in society, and the desire to make the lives of his fellow African-American people better. His knowledge came from a place of understanding, from his heart and the pain of discrimination he had suffered growing up. The man’s childhood and life experiences allowed him to understand the dissatisfaction of the black community and encourage them to channel their feelings into direct action. Martin Luther King Jr. heard the needs and concerns of black people, offered them a way, an opportunity to affect the world around them, change the country with their actions. Another trait that made Martin Luther King Jr. a great leader and an icon was his ability to take responsibility for the collective well-being of his followers and the whole movement, sometimes sacrificing progress or his convictions to ensure the safety of protesters.
In conclusion, the contemporary work of a manager and a leader was examined, with their peculiarities and differences. Both positions present an equally large amount of opportunities and challenges to their holders, requiring a wide range of knowledge and skills. Leaders are charismatic, innovative individuals that must inspire others and pave the way for their subordinates to achieve various goals. Such people need to be energetic, communicative, and knowledgeable, having the ability to work with limited human and financial resources.
Leaders are a necessity for completing large-scope projects and ensuring the prolonged success of any organization. Managers, on the other hand, work primarily for the benefit of the whole team and form the most efficient strategies for achieving set goals. These specialists are concerned with monitoring the progress of their co-workers, staff management, scheduling, progress reports, and many other smaller tasks. The work of the manager is to be the connective element between the workers, to maximize their potential on the job, and to regulate time and money spent on any task.
The positions are also similar in many ways, specifically in the need for good communication and conflict resolution skills. Overall, both positions are intended to regulate the work process and ensure the most effective operation of a company.
A profile of a notable leader was also discussed. Martin Luther King Jr’s biography and his many deeds were discussed in detail. By bringing attention to his life story, I have witnessed a great example of effective leadership. His personal and professional qualities, including his high charisma, empathy and drive towards change are the main reason that many to this day view him as an icon. The man managed to inspire and convince an immense amount of people, shining the light on the problems of contemporary American society and giving the disenfranchised blacks a voice. Martin Luther King, Jr., a leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement, stands as one of the prime examples of leadership being in touch with its subordinates and working in tandem with others to achieve certain goals.
Bariso, J. (2015) ‘In Search of the Definition of Leadership.’ Inc. Web.
Leadership vs management (no date). Web.
Lewis, D.L. and Carson, C. (2020) Martin Luther King, Jr. Web.
The Telegraph (2017) ‘What are the main responsibilities of managers’. Web.
Ward, S. (2020) What is leadership? Web.
What is management? (no date). Web.
What is management? Definitions and functions (2020). Web.