In this module we examine the dynamics of leading, following, and managing. The origins, nature, and styles of leadership are summarized and contrasted with those of management. Overviews of gender-related leadership styles and leadership pitfalls are also provided.
Leadership vs. Management
- Managers manage. They get things done. Management is a function that is used to establish budgets, develop plans and schedules, and make sure that everything is moving along the way it is supposed to.
- Leaders lead. They can get people and entire organizations to change. They have a
relationship with the people they lead, and those people follow them.
- "Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.” -- Richard Pascale
- “For any quality initiative to take hold, senior management must be involved and act as a role model. This involvement cannot be delegated.” Daniel. F. Predpall
- “Leaders stand out by being different. They question assumptions and are suspicious of tradition. They seek out the truth and make decisions based on fact, not prejudice. They have a preference for innovation.” John Fenton
- “Leaders must let vision, strategies, goals, and values be the guide-post for action and behavior rather than attempting to control others.” Daniel. F. Predpall
- “Leaders are observant and sensitive people. They know their team and develop mutual confidence within it.” - John Fenton
Leadership – What is it?Edit
Leadership has been defined as the effective use of power and influence. Power is the capacity to influence the behavior of others. Power use gets results. Influence is the process by which people successfully persuade others to follow their advice, suggestions, or orders. Leadership can also be thought of as making a significant difference vis a vis a goal or objective.
Leaders take risks by challenging existing ways of doing things and undermining authority when necessary. Leaders resolve conflicts. Leaders motivate people. Transactional leaders motivate people towards established goals by clarifying roles and tasks. They resemble ‘managers’. Transformational leaders motivate people to transcend self-interest and self-imposed limits for a greater collective vision. Leaders build community based in shared values. And leaders are role models; showing people how to subordinate personal interests in favor of the greater good advocated by the leader.
Ever since F.W. Taylor advocated Scientific Management at the beginning of the 20th century, managers have been associated with a more mechanistic, distanced approach to people. Organizational leaders, on the other hand, are still expected to resemble leaders we follow in other areas of life. Managers try to control complexity; leaders often thrive on chaos. Managers plan and budget to implement organizational goals. Leaders set the direction the organization might take. Managers are taught to control people and push them in the ‘right’ direction. Leaders tend to motivate people by satisfying their higher needs. Managers think; leaders vision. And yet in the end leadership and management complement each other.
The Leader-Follower RelationshipEdit
“It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead and find no one there.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Because leadership is a relationship between the leader and the led, people are likely to follow leaders based on both the leader’s and the follower’s focus of attention. For instance, some leaders and followers focus primarily on the character of the leader. Often such leaders have ‘referent power’, that is they exercise power and influence because the followers admire the leader’s character, enthusiasm and integrity – aspiring in some ways to be like the leader. Other leaders and followers relate to their shared focus on getting the job done as a team and the leader’s boldness in making that happen. Some leaders and followers focus on technical competence and intellectual prowess, believing in the rightness, perceptions, judgement and fortitude of the leader and their cause. And other leaders and followers may connect through collaborative interaction that inspires service to for a greater-collective good. In all four situations there is a relationship between the leader and the followers.
There are some physical metaphors from dance that might provide interesting insight in the dynamics of leading and following. In partnered dancing the leader is expected to hold a organization frame, signaling to the partner the moves they need to make. The follow needs to know the steps, allow the leader to lead, pay attention to the signals and interpret them correctly. The leader is expected to pay attention to the environment (the other dancers and the floor) and maneuver the follower safely through the space. Both leader and follower are actually dancing to the tune of the music (the situation), and leader and follower must maintain a fairly close distance (contact) to maximize efficiency in communication of directions. It makes both the leader and the follower look bad if either one does not do their part properly – if the leader fails to lead well and the follower in unable or unwilling to follow. Partnered dance provides a metaphor for the same issues involved in leading in following in our organizations.
Leadership Research PerspectivesEdit
The leadership research has typically taken a perspective on one of three positions when trying to understand the dynamics of leading and following:
- Leaders are born with certain traits that destine them to become leaders. (Trait Theory)
- Leaders are made through the interaction of the individual with his or her life circumstances. People learning to lead – sometimes through necessity. (Leadership Development)
- Leaders are a function of a person rising to the situation that calls for someone to step forward and make a positive difference. (Situational-Contingency Leadership)
Each of these positions has implications for understanding human behavior. For instance, those who believe leaders are born focus on determining which traits are most strongly associated with leadership and how best to identify those traits in human beings. Those who believe leaders are made focus on leadership skill transmission and development – how best to teach people to lead. And those with a situational-contingency perspective seek to identify the conditions under which a leader is likely to emerge, and the skills required to be effective given the situational context. So far, there is research to support all three positions – leaders are born AND made AND are people who rise to the occasion when situations require them to do so.
Leadership Research – Trait Theory and Leadership DevelopmentEdit
Trait Theory: Leadership is associated with three types of traits – technical, human relations, and conceptual. In the early stages of leading the technical competencies are important as a source of power. As the leader has more responsibility their interpersonal and human relations skills become important since they are starting to influence, involve and persuade people to follow their guidance. At the highest responsibility level the conceptual skills – visioning, telling a powerful and engaging story, aligning people with purpose – become the more important skills for leader effectiveness.
Leadership Development: Leaders perform several functions in organizational life. Leaders challenge the existing ways of doing things, inspire a shared vision, enable others, model the way, and motivate others. Challenging the existing ways of doing things requires some knowledge of how things work and other ways that might work. Education in a wide range of areas and contact with lots of different perspectives on life and work can help people learn the content necessary to successfully challenge existing processes. Willingness to share those views is also required. Many leaders learn to inspire a shared vision by learning effective communication skills. Enabling others means being willing to share knowledge and teach people how to do things, rather than doing it for them. Enabling others is also expressing personal support for others, empathizing with them, and believing in them. Modeling the way is practicing what you preach. And motivation skills include setting clear standards, paying attention and giving your attention to what people do well, and personalizing recognition and feedback. Leadership development programs help people from all walks of life learn the skills associated with these leadership functions.
Situational leadership theory is a model designed to explain what type of leadership style is most appropriate given the type of relationship and task behavior required to meet a goal.
When the situation (the interaction of task and relationship) calls for getting the job done quickly and well but there is little or no need for socio-emotional support of the people doing the job, then a directive leadership style may work. The directive style provides specific instructions about what to do when. This makes sense in a situation where the leader knows what to do, how to do it, and is willing to make a decision but the followers do not what to do, how to do it, nor do they wish to make a decision.
When the situation calls for lots of support from the leader to followers who are unable to make decisions but who are willing to learn, the leader’s most effective style is a sell style. To use the sell style a leader explains decisions and provides opportunities for the followers to clarify the reasoning.
When the leader does not feel a strong need to be involved in the performance or outcome of the task, but does have to influence the followers to do something, a more participatory style is effective. In such a situation the leader shares their ideas and facilitates a leader-follower made decision. This is appropriate when the followers are able to make a decision but unwilling to do so for some reason.
The leader delegates when they are willing and able to turn over decision making to the followers who are both willing and able to make a decision.
Leaders and ManagersEdit
Organizational behaviorists have been interested in another question: Are leaders different from managers? And if so, what difference does that difference make? Abe Zaleznik answered these questions through his research with many leaders and managers. In his view, leaders and managers are different. Leaders are seen by others as brilliant, lonely, heroic, visionary, effective, imaginative, creative and self-reliant. Managers are seen by others as rational, problem-solving, directing, task-oriented, efficient, persistent, tough-minded, hard working, intelligent, analytical, tolerant, practical and innovative.
When they were young people, leaders often felt they did not quite fit in the world, so they sought to change the world around them, developing themselves through personal mastery and strong, independent character. As a result these people as adults are prone to challenging the status quo, even creating (thriving on) chaos. Managers, in contrast, frequently talk of growing up with a sense of fitting in yet wanting to make the existing systems work better. As adult managers these people seek and maintain order – even if they sponsor change, they want that change to be orderly.
Leaders use their influence to change people’s views of what is desirable, possible and necessary. They have deep interpersonal attachments and an ability to evoke the ideals and expectations of those who follow them. Managers are more likely to use their influence to implement organizational goals. They tend to have a more impersonal attitude towards the needs and desires of the individuals involved. Managers are therefore often good with tactical plans, bargaining, negotiating, using rewards, and coordinating different approaches to issues. Leaders explore and encourage fresh solutions to existing problems – encouraging people to examine a wide range of options to manifest the vision. Leaders tend to focus on the meaning of events and decisions to participants in a personal way, thereby gaining commitments to idea(l)s. Managers tend to relate to roles – theirs and others’ – gaining commitment to the processes required to implement goals.
Leading and ManagingEdit
Kotter added to Zaleznik’s research by adding that both managers and leaders care about creating an agenda, developing a human network for achieving that agenda, executing the agenda, and certain outcomes. They differ in how they do each of those four things. Managers create their agenda through planning and budgeting. Leaders create their agenda through establishing a direction. Manager’s networks are designed by organizational charts and staffing decisions. Leaders what networks of humans emerge as people are aligned using the leader’s vision. Managers execute the agenda through control systems with a problem-solving approach. Leaders motivate and inspire through the force of their vision and charisma. And the outcome managers desire is order, predictability, and consistency – maintaining systems and processes that work. The leader seeks change.
Kotter argues, and many agree, that both leaders and managers are important to the success of our organizations. Leadership produces useful change while management controls complexity and chaos. Leaders set the directions; managers make sure things happen so the goal is actually reached. Leaders align stakeholders though their vision and credibility; managers organize those stakeholders for efficient implementation of that vision. Leaders motivate people by satisfying some basic human needs; managers motivate people by the strategic use of reinforcement, punishments, and conditioning. Leaders involve, support and include; managers delegate, direct, and discipline. Leaders use informal interpersonal networks (the social web); managers coordinate information flows through organizational structure, informational channels and chains of command.
In practice we do not make such a fine distinction between leaders and managers. Frequently we refer to people in positions of responsibilities as leaders – whether they see themselves and function more as leaders or managers often varies by incumbent.
Many of us think immediately of charisma when we think of leaders. Charismatic leaders are motivating, envisioning, and enabling. They are motivating because they demonstrate personal enthusiasm for a goal. They show incredible personal confidence in their and their followers’ ability to attain the goal. And they are quick and willing to celebrate achievements.
Charismatic leaders envision a future where they and followers meet high standards. They are willing to lead the way to this future by example, exemplifying the attributes, qualities, skills, and benefits of trying things ‘their way’. They develop this vision with their followers and are quick to give credit to followers who have helped them develop and articulate the view.
Finally charismatic leaders are enabling. They express support for followers in a personal way. People feel seen, heard, cared for and respected because of their empathy. They express confidence in others – often more confidence than those people have in themselves.
We often think charisma is something people are born with. Yet charisma, according to the research, can be constructed by:
- Paying attention to followers needs and meeting them.
- Developing empathy for follower concerns – understand and value their perspective.
- Expecting the best from people.
- Personalizing recognition.
- Sharing your own trials and triumphs so people – set an example.
Male and Female LeadershipEdit
In addition to the general research into leadership, many people have systematically explored differences in leadership between men and women. So far the research consensus is that there is no apparent qualitative difference between men and women in effective drive, learning ability, or analytical problem-solving skills – all traits and skills associated with leaders.
All leaders must be seen by their constituents as honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent. And any leader can have an autocratic (direct, controlling, dictatorial), democratic (cooperative, responsive, flexible, participatory), or empowering (coaching, enabling, empathetic, allowing) style.
However, there does seem to be some difference in leadership style and corresponding expectations about leadership style associated with gender. Style matters because leadership is from the eye of the follower. Women and men have been said to come from different cultures – and in those different cultures one is seen to be or not to be a good leader through the lens of the follower’s culture. Women are seen to be more effective as leaders when they use either democratic or empowering styles. Both women and men expect women to be more cooperative, relationship-oriented, involving, and collaborative. Men may effectively use any of the three styles, including the more traditional autocratic style, since that style is accepted in the male culture.
Why Leaders FailEdit
We have discussed leadership so far as if all leaders are successful. Leaders can fail when they appear insensitive, cold, abrasive, aloof, arrogant, or corrupt. Leaders who do not keep their word, betray a trust, fail to delegate, and have no strategy may also fail. Machiavelli put forth the idea that people may lead through the use of fear as well as love – but a leader is more likely to fail if they are seen by their followers in a negative way. Positive and negative when describing leaders are from the perspective of the followers. Many of us assume leaders will make a positive difference in the world. One of the things we have learned in observing human behavior is that the exercise of power and influence need not be for the benefit of everyone – only for relevant constituents.
Three Leadership Rules to RememberEdit
Dr. James N. Farr, founder of Farr Associates, a behavioral science consulting organization based in Greensboro, N.C., says there are three rules to becoming a leader:
- Understand the people you are leading. How do they look at you and the situation you are all in? Since most sensible followers avoid saying negative things to their leaders, or bosses, leaders need to create a system of feedback loops that keep them in permanent touch with follower mindset so they lead professionally with maximum impact.
- Show your “leaderself.” There is your “natural self” and your “leaderself.” “Leaderself” is designed and created to make a leader. Ask yourself what a leader would do, and then do it. Instead of making the role of leader fit them and their personality, leaders develop a new personality that fits the role. It is similar to a police officer who puts on a “police face” along with the uniform. A great deal of poor leadership comes from people who respond to a situation by doing what comes naturally to their personality instead of what they need to do in their role as a leader. It’s akin to a soldier going into combat. The person he really is might want to run and hide, but his job is to go in there and fight, and that’s what he does.
- Know what you are doing. Effective leaders do not operate on automatic pilot. They know exactly what they are doing, the image that they are creating, and what they need to do in order to get people to follow them. They know what their goals are and how they have to behave to get people to help them achieve them.
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On leading From Lao Tzu – China, circa 450 b.c.e.
- The wicked leader is s/he who the people despise,
- The good leader is s/he who the people revere,
- The great leader is s/he who the people say
- “we did it ourselves.”
Checklist for Identifying Performance Problems
Why do organisations need to plan and manage their communication?
How team members can improve overall project communication
Measures to make teams more performing
Required characteristics of the project manager
The 10 Project Management Guiding Principles
Ethical Leadership Principles
In other sections of this handbook
The relationship between "power" and "authority"
Decision Making in Groups
What is a programme
The 3 level hierarchy of programme objectives
Project Managers and programme Managers
Determining the project manager
Managing the Human Resources of a project team