The concept of leadership has been analyzed as a concept distinct from management for centuries. Indeed a great deal of the debate dates back to Weber (and even a hundred years before too), who’s well known for distinguishing between transactional (bureaucratic), transformative (charismatic) and feudal (traditional) models of leadership. And the philosophical debate has been continued in today’s era by the likes of Burns and Bass. Bass said
“Leaders manage and managers lead, but the two activities are not synonymous. Management functions can potentially provide leadership; leadership activities can contribute to managing. Nevertheless, some managers do not lead, and some leaders do not manage”.
Far from being distinct, the above quote seems to reflect the consensus view. Leadership is commonly thought of as relating to inspiration, charisma and particularly crisis situations where direction, and “grabbing the bull by the horns” are important. Management however, is often thought of as being more operational, administrative, reactive and sometimes technical. One results in change, the other results in maintenance.
But what’s the truth? And is there any merit in the separation of these two concepts? Professor Tony de Luca of Sacred Heart University believes that not only is the debate without merit, but it also proves very little in the way of a real difference. For example a leader who isn’t a manager would make nice speeches but never deliver on anything. They would be ” all smoke and no sizzle” i.e. no beef. So in reality there’s no point in separating the two concepts because either job needs both skill sets.
What are your thoughts?