Management, Leadership and Power

Management versus Leadership

 

Is management significantly different from leadership? Or is it necessary distinguishing between the two concepts? Some people believe that differentiating the definition between the two concepts is not only useless but also wasting your time. For these people management or leadership is just a label; what really matters is: are you doing things that an effective leader or manager should do?

For those who subscribe to the notion that management, to some extent, is different from leadership, one way of contrasting between management and leadership is usually by comparing the definition and the elements of the two concepts. The problem is: It is almost impossible to define management and leadership in one single comprehensive expression.

Management is traditionally defined by: “Getting things done through the effort of other people”. So, what do managers do? They draft plans, they make decisions, they allocate resources, and they direct the activities of others to attain goals.  Hence traditionally managers perform four basic management functions: planning, organizing or staffing, directing and controlling. We call these functions as the five basic elements of management.

How about leadership? Leadership is simply defined by: “the art of influencing people to act towards the achievement of the desired goals”.  While managers tend to adopt impersonal, if not passive, attitude towards goals, leaders take a personal and active attitude toward goals. Managers tend to view work as an enabling process involving some combination of people, method and procedure to establish strategies and make decisions, whereas leaders work from high-risk positions, concerned with ideas, relate to people in more intuitive and empathic ways. When we talk about leadership’s functions we are normally concerned with: inspiring, sharing, participating, guiding and motivating. These functions are basically known as the elements of leadership.

Another way to differentiate management from leadership is simply by labeling management as “doing things right” whereas leadership as “doing the right things”. The question is: Which one is more important? Well, it depends. Management is about coping with current issues. Good management brings about order and consistency by drawing up plans, designing rigid organization structure, and monitoring results against plans. Many managers, however, are unfortunately too concerned with keeping things on time and on budget and with copying what was done yesterday (and happy if perform 5 percent better than previous year).  

Leadership, in contrast, is about coping with change. Leaders establish directions by developing a vision of the future; they align people by communicating this vision and inspiring them to overcome hurdles.  Therefore in a well structured organization and less-volatile business environment a good management is sufficient. However, strong leadership is required for an organization undergoing a transformational change, where new innovative ideas and directions for the future are needed by the people in the organization.

Some experts argue that management is different from leadership for other reasons. Management, they propose, is more oriented toward: administration, maintenance, system and structure, short range plans, goals, how to achieve goals, solve current problems, seek compliance, control. Whereas leadership is more oriented toward: innovation, development, people, long range plans, vision for the future, what to be done and why, anticipate future problems, gain commitment, empowerment. 

So where do we stand? We will use a broad definition of leadership: the ability to influence a group toward the achievement of goals. The source of this influence may be formal, such as provided by the possession of managerial rank in an organization. Since management positions come with some degree of formally designated authority, a person may assume a leadership role simply because of the position he or she holds in the organization. But keep in mind that not all leaders are managers: nor, all managers are leaders. Just because an organization provides its managers with certain formal authority is no assurance that they will be able to lead effectively. We find that non transactional leadership — that is, the ability to influence that arises outside the formal structure of the organization – is often as important or more important than formal influence. In other words, leaders can emerge from within a group as well as by formal appointment to lead a group.

Thus, leadership is not forcing what you want just because you happen to have the legitimate power to do so, but rather the art of showing the light, inspiring, giving directions and alternatives to the people you are working with. You may be the formal leader, but the question is do your people feel they are getting the right directions from you. Therefore, one of the most important qualities that a leader should have is long range vision and ability to share the vision with his/her followers. There is no leadership without thinking of the future.  I think this is the basic question that a leader should keep asking himself or herself: Am I leading my people toward mutually shared goals or am I just giving orders to them? The word leadership or leader should not be perceived as a “noun”, but rather as a “verb”, that is leading.

In order to be able to effectively lead, first you have to be accepted by your subordinates. Here are some tips for a new leader. A new leader does not necessarily mean a transition from a non-leader position to a leader position, but it can be a transfer from one department, division or branch to another. This formula is also known as “Similar and Different.” Be part of them, be similar enough to get acceptance and membership as well, yet be different enough to add values to the people you are working with. Things a new leader should do when he or she assumes a leadership position:

 

  1. Study the terrain/frontier, the environment, their values, their expectations.
  2. Let your subordinates know who you are, not what you want.
  3. Do not get tempted to change the existing policies, especially the ones that will drastically and uncomfortably change the old habits. Refrain from asking people to do things that will invite resistance.
  4. Be part of them. Once you get acceptance or “membership” it will be easy to lead them wherever you want.  

 

Effective leadership will gain commitment from your subordinates, not obedience. What we need from subordinates is commitment not obedience. And, what does commitment mean? It means readiness to mobilize as much available energy as possible in the pursuit of common goals, common enterprise. 

 

Leadership versus Power

Power refers to a capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B, so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes. This definition implies a potential that need not be actualized to be effective and a dependency relationship. Power may exist but not be used it. It is, therefore, a capacity or potential.

Dependency is B’s relationship to A when A possesses something that B requires. The greater B’s dependence on A, the greater A’s power upon B. Dependence, in turn, is based on alternatives that B perceives and the importance that B places on the alternative(s) that A controls. If you possess something that others require but you alone control, you make them dependent upon you and, therefore you gain power over them. If you’re attending college on funds totally provided by your parents, you probably recognize the power they hold over you. You’re dependent on them for financial support. But once you’re out of school, have a job, and are making a solid income, your parent’s power is reduced significantly.

A careful comparison of our definition of power with our description of leadership in the previous discussion reveals that the two concepts are closely intertwined. Leaders use power as a means of attaining group goals. Leaders achieve goals, and power is means of facilitating their achievement.

What differences are there between the two concepts?

  1. Goal compatibility: Power does not require goal compatibility, merely dependence. Leadership, on the other hand, requires some congruence between the goals of the leader and those being led.
  2. Direction of influence: Leadership focuses on the downward influence on one’s subordinates. Power influence extends even laterally and upward.
  3. Emphasis: Leadership mostly emphasizes style to gain commitment. In contrast, power focuses on tactics for gaining obedience.  

Sources of power

Where does power come from? What is it that gives an individual or a group influence over others? There are basically five bases or sources of power: legitimate, coercive, reward, expert, and referent. Some authors add two more sources of power: information and connection.

 

  1. Legitimate power: The power a person receives as a result of his or her position in the formal hierarchy of an organization. This person has the right, considering his or her position and your job responsibility, to expect you to comply with legitimate requests. In formal groups or organizations, this is probably the most frequent access to one or more power bases in one’s structural organization.

 

  1. Coercive power:  The power a person receives because he or her in the position   to punish you if you fail to comply with his or her requests. This person can make things difficult for people and you want to avoid getting him or her unhappy. This kind of power is also called power that is based on fear.

 

  1. Reward power: The power a person receives because he or her in the position   to reward you if you comply with his or her requests. So compliance is achieved based on your ability to distribute benefits or rewards that others view it advantageous to trade favors with him or her.

 

  1. Expert power: The power or influence a person has over other people as a result or his or her expertise, special skill, experience or knowledge that others do not posses. Expertise has become one of the most powerful sources of power as the world has become more technologically oriented. As jobs become more specialized, we become increasingly dependent on specialists to achieve goals.

 

  1. Referent power: A power that develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like that person. In a sense, then, it is a lot like charisma. If you admire someone to the point of modeling your behavior and attitudes after him or her, this person, then, possesses referent power over you. Spiritual leaders, celebrities, successful businessmen or famous intellectuals.

 

  1. Information power: A power or influence that some has over other people because he possesses or has access to valuable information that others do not but require it. Corporate Secretary, HRD Manager, and Secretary of the Cabinet are positions viewed as having valuable information and accordingly having information power.

 

  1. Connection power: A power or influence that some has over other people because he has access or close connection to highly important people that others require it but do not have such connection. If, for some reasons, I’m very close to the President Director, others may view that I’m in the position to introduce you or to recommend you to him, and then I gain power over you.

Implications for Managers:

Managers and leaders need power to achieve their goals. There is evidence that people respond differently to various power bases. Expert and referent power are derived from someone’s personal qualities. In contrast, coercion, reward, and legitimate are mostly derived from formal hierarchical positions.  Since people are more likely to accept and commit to an individual whom they admire or whose knowledge they respect, the effective use of expert and referent power should lead to higher employee performance, commitment, and satisfaction. Whereas employees working under managers who use coercive power are unlikely to be committed to organizational goals. The use of coercive and reward power will only gain employees’ compliance instead of commitment.

Where is the real power?  In the real world the real power does not always rest on the hand of the President Director or CEO. There is individual(s) or group who has a great influence over the President Director or CEO’s decision making process. He or she never makes decision before consulting this individual or group first. If that is the case, the real power actually lies in the hand of that particular individual or group.

 

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