There are several subtle differences between the concepts of leadership and management. The functions and actions of each title differ in their foundation, expectation and execution. Those positions which exist under each title also differ – in their expectations, and motivations. It is my goal, through achieving an MBA to develop a cohesion between these two roles in my work, and career endeavors.
Leadership is less like a role, than it is an occasional action. (McCrimmon) It is the intention of a leader to inspire his or her followers to achieve their common goals. The focus of a leader is on the entirety of a project or goal. The followers, under the guides of leadership, assume the responsibility of carrying out the necessary actions required to achieve whatever goal is at hand. (CM)
Management, on the other hand, handles the delegation of authority differently. Managers are concerned with all levels in the chain of command. Unlike the leaders, managers have subordinates – which, differing from followers, have much less personal inspiration for the work at hand. Managers have to overcome their subordinates’ personal desires with incentives. “Management requires efficiency, profitability, and depends on minimal inputs for maximum returns”. (McCrimmon)
These two roles share a base theory – achieve a goal through the delegation of authority. It is in the manner and execution of this, in which they differ. The effectiveness of each has been proven, and while certain situations lend themselves to a particular set of expectations, both roles can achieve most any goal.
Team work, in the American culture, derives from a centralized leader, and his or her subordinates. In the business setting, this would be the group manager. A properly organized team will consist of members which are chosen for their ability to execute certain aspects of a goal with efficiency. While it can be possible for a single person to be good a multiple tasks, if the situation allows, each person would be serve the group with only one responsibility.
Conflict within the group setting can offer incentive to work harder, or, reciprocally, create tension. There are two main types of conflicts: affective and substantive. (Jehn 532) Substantive conflict arises through the competition of a task assigned to the group – and often works out through group communication. Affective conflict is far more disruptive. Affective conflict arises through differences in the members of the group – be it ethnic, cultural or other difference – and can stall group production completely.
It is the responsibility of leaders and managers to address and – if possible – end conflict within a group. Without the cooperation within a group, it cannot complete the tasks at hand. Therefore, effective leadership and management must be able to identify and remove the sources of conflict.
Through my experience as a manager and team leader in various situations including job responsibilities, and other school functions, and responsibilities in a group (i.e. organizational meetings in which I was a leader) I had to prove myself to others that I was up for the task of being a leader. In order to manage effectively a certain amount of conflict resolution must be incorporated into any situation.
I found that the conflict resolution texts that I have read in the past (centering around Gandhi and other peaceful leaders) gave me a certain edge of understanding when it came to difficult situations. One particular incident in which I had to utilize my conflict resolution, and leadership skills was when I was working at my first job.
Although I did not hold the title of manager yet, I was a well liked fellow employ at the local video shop. Our goal was complete and total customer satisfaction: the policy being that the customer is typically always right and that the employee must cater to the customer’s needs. one day, I was just clocking in for my shift. I went to the back of the store to ask the manager what station she wanted me on that day.
She said to go ahead and go up front and handle customers since she was doing inventory in the back. I went to the front of the store where a customer was already waiting impatiently for me. He gave me his movies to rent and I asked for his membership card. When his account came on my screen I informed him that he owed late fees amounting to over twenty dollars. He was irate. He said that he did not owe any late fees, because he turned those movies in on time. The computer held testament that he was in fact late. The tirade continued with a slew of swearing and the customer was obviously very upset about this.
I knew that in situations like this it is much easier to react harshly, and yell back at the customer because he was definitely out of line with what he was calling me, and the emotions he was displaying. However, I had to keep my job, and keep my head in this situation. I took a moment in myself and realized that to react with the same negativity would only incite danger, and that this person was probably upset about something else in their life and was only letting it out on me because I was easy and he didn’t have to pay the consequences of his actions with me.
With the utmost strength I had in self-control, and leadership, I asked the man kindly if he would like to take advantage of our promotion which was if a person donated canned goods then they only had to pay half of their late fees. The man physically took a step back: he did not expect this reaction I could tell. I further informed him that if he wanted to leave and come back for the movies he wanted to rent, while getting canned goods I could hold the movies for him until his return.
He took me up on the offer and came back with several cans of green beans, and cream corn, rented his movies, and even stuttered over his thank you when he left. I feel that in this situation I took a leadership role in taking charge of the direction of the conversation and reflecting a cool demeanor without upsetting the customer. This type of reaction was the necessary course in a business setting. With an MBA degree I feel that I could enhance my leadership qualities and become a creative, manager utilizing conflict resolution.
Jehn, Karen A. “A Qualitative Analysis of Conflict Types and Dimensions in Organizational Groups”. Administrative Science Quarterly. Vol. 42, No. 3. September 1997. p. 530- 557.
McCrimmon, Mitch. “Leaders or Managers”. Leadersdirect.com. Self Renewal Group. 2006. Date of Access: June 29, 2007. URL: http://www.leadersdirect.com/mgevslead.html
“Leadership vs. Management”. Changingminds.org. 2006. Date of Access: July 22, 2006. URL: