Management and Leadership: Defining the Relationship

Words: 570
Topic: Business & Economics

Available literature demonstrates that the terms “management” and “leadership” are often confused and used interchangeably despite the different timing of their evolution, as well as their differing functions based on their underlying conceptualisations, philosophies, functions and intended outcomes (Toor & Ofori, 2008). In this paper, I purpose to demonstrate the relationship between “leadership” and “management” by showing the similarities and differences between the two concepts.

Upon evaluating several sources on leadership and management (e.g., Abrhiem, 2012; Toor & Ofori, 2008), I am of the informed opinion that while one of the major functions of leadership is to influence, guide and influence others using ability, persuasiveness, and vision, the major function of management revolves around controlling, supervising, application of skills, caretaking, and coping with established circumstances. In this light, I propose that organizations stand to benefit a great deal if managers are facilitated to develop and implement leadership traits such as influencing, persuading and directing followers (workers) to achieve optimal productivity.

In organizational settings, I am convinced by the overwhelming evidence that both leadership and management should aim to optimize the firm’s bottom-line in terms of performance and competitiveness (Abrhiem, 2012). But in doing so, the principal dynamic force of leadership should be to motivate, mobilise and direct others through passion for purpose, moral obligation, practice and values (Abrhiem, 2012, George et al., 2007), while the dominant force of management in meeting the same objective should be to rationally assess the situation, systematically develop strategies to achieve the objective, marshalling the required resources, engaging in rational design, organisation, direction and control to attain the stated objective, and finally motivating and rewarding people to do the work (Toor & Ofori, 2008). Although a leader may engage in some of these processes and activities, it is my focused submission that management is more mechanistic and impersonal than leadership.

Moving on, I can submit that any leadership or management paradigm requires some form of power to control; however, available literature documents that while leadership involves power by influence, authenticity and establishment of a vision for a better future (Abrhiem, 2012; George et al., 2007), management involves power by position (Toor & Ofori, 2008). Consequently, in my view, a leader can be a better change agent in an organization as his or her powerbase is firmly nested on tenets that followers can easily identify with.

It is also my considered opinion that leadership and management have different behavioral orientations. While it is known that a leadership culture is open, communicative, frank, participative, humane, compassionate, and encourages the development and application of new ideas to approach problems (Abrhiem, 2012), a management culture, on the other hand, tends to be scientific in nature, structured and deliberate in approach, authoritative and stabilizing in behaviour, and relentless and tough-minded in routine (Toor & Ofori, 2008).

Lastly, I contend that while both leadership and management are guided by some set of motivations, management is more extrinsically-oriented due to variables such as acceptance of status quo, surrendering to context, adherence to company obligations, consistency, authority, and position power (Abrhiem, 2012; Toor & Ofori, 2008). On the hand, I contend that leadership is all about intrinsic motivation not only derived from the leaders’ sense of meaning to their lives, but also from other functional variables such as use of referent power to influence followers, capacity to draw power from personal traits and attributes, and ability to help other people grow and develop.


Abrhiem, T.H. (2012). Ethical leadership: Keeping values in business cultures. Business & Management Review, 2(7), 11-19. Web.

George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A.N., & Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review, 85(2), 129-138. Web.

Toor, S.U.R., & Ofori, G. (2008). Leadership versus management: How they are different, and why. Leadership & Management in Engineering, 8(2), 61-71. Web.