Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Difference between Managers and Leaders

Many people ask why we talk of leaders in management affairs as those in charge of affairs in business are called managers and not leaders. They are right in a manner that officially there are no leaders – everyone in one capacity or the other is a manager in the hierarchy of an organization. 

But if we look back, the genesis of management and the notion managers is not very old. The concept of management was born in the 19th century and was subsequently developed and its various theories evolved based on the military’s concept of command and control. Management is nothing, thus, planning, organizing, co-coordinating and implementing of policies (called strategy and tactic in the armies) of the “top management”. And we want to sum up all these functions in one word, we can call it “administration”, and so do all studies of business are in fact called “business administration.”

Now here comes the “manager.” He/she is the person, who has been given certain “powers” by the organization to perform managerial functions. So going by this analogy, a manager wields his/her authority by the powers of the managerial system through which team mates, colleagues, workers yield to the directions of the manager to carryout the tasks assigned to them. Here please note that so far we are concentrating on the working on the entire team based on the “authority” every individual has in the hierarchy of the organization.

Then we need leaders? There is no mention of leaders in the management tree of any organization. So who are these people? Are they some unseen forces, secretly paid by the organization or what?  The answer lies still in the militaries. While all “commanders” have authority to command their troops, not all of them are remembered in the history. There must have been millions and millions of commanders in the past, but the world history lists only a few and still remembers them with awe. 

In fact here come in those secret hidden thing we call “leadership.” It is something that pulls others towards a person – an aura or charisma that makes people look towards a person with confidence that whatever that person says or does, will be done, no matter how incongruous, with no questions asked. Commanders with or without leadership qualities are paid alike, but those with leadership qualities rise high, earn good name and become immortal for time immemorial. And so do the managers with leadership qualities. 

In an organization, only those managers rise or are respected who can influence workers by virtue of their character, drive, enthusiasm, communication skills and motivational skills. These extra qualities make a successful manager. A manager who leads and not directs. A person who wields authority by his personal drive and character that inspires people to follow, to be loyal, and to produce rather than the powers written in the green book of the organization. Those managers that do not have specific leadership qualities and talents either remain unproductive or have to work much harder to produce results for the organization.

So be a manager to lead not to command. That’s in nutshell the difference between a manager with or without leadership qualities.


I agree. Character, drive, enthusiasm, communication skills and motivational skills do inspire every one around. Thanks for this useful series on management.

Oh who is this young man commenting? Looks very enthusiastic and dynamic - should become a great writer one day (or has already become?)

I was this young when I started in this Khar Mughilan. Main bohra ho giya hoon isi eik saal mein.

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