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Leadership or Management?

Leadership or Management? by Arthur Cooper (c) Copyright 2005< /a>

If you are a good manager, does that make you a good leader?

If you are a good leader, does that make you a good manager?

Does being good at one imply being good at the other? Do they necessarily go together or are they quite different in character? What are the characteristics of leaders and managers?

These are some of the questions I shall try to answer in this article.

At one extreme management can mean the organisation of the smooth running of a routine function. It can mean arranging schedules, assigning tasks to individuals, and checking that work is done according to the defined procedures. It may mean nothing more than this. It may be a vital and valuable function, but nevertheless not one requiring huge amounts of trail blazing or leaps into the unknown.

The majority of management jobs do require much more than this of course. When you add in the control of staff, the liasing and negotiating, the planning and the measuring, the reviewing and decision making, and so on and so forth, you begin to see the complexity and difficulty of the role.

But, fundamentally, good managers get things done. Managers are practical and analytical. They work out how to put into practice the ambitious visions of their leaders.

Leadership by contrast has other characteristics. Leadership means being visionary and inspirational. It means deciding what the goal should be. It means choosing the direction to go towards that chosen goal and convincing others to follow. It means always being ahead of others and pointing the way. But it doesn't mean working out the practical details of every step along the way.

Whilst the leader inspires the team the manager organises the team. A good leader is a master of the What and the Why. A good manager is a master of the How.

Neither is more important than the other and in a business organisation they complement one another.

Naturally there is an overlap in the functions of leaders and managers. Few managers would succeed without showing some degree of leadership and few leaders would succeed without having some management competence. Many people are to some extent both leaders and managers. But the distinction is there all the same and truly outstanding individuals are often extremes of the one or the other.

For example the entrepreneur who builds up his business from nothing is often a leader 'inspiring, visionary, 'but careless of and uninterested in details. He knows where he wants to go but is not interested or competent in the details of how to get there. More importantly, once one goal has been reached he is off aiming at the next one and is less interested in the routine or mundane job of consolidating the gains so far.

Those who go on to become truly successful realise their shortcomings and hire good and effective managers to look after the smooth running of the day-to-day functions. Those who don't are often frustrated by an inability to make the major leap forward with their companies. This is a shame because as a result they cannot grow their businesses beyond a certain level.

Managers can motivate their teams, cajole and encourage. They can knit a group of individuals into an efficient working group. They can implement the leader's vision.

Each needs characteristics of the other to some degree, but they are fundamentally different.

About the author:

Arthur Cooper is a business consultant, writer and publisher. For his mini-course 'Better Management' go to: h ttp://


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