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Leadership or Management - Do We Have to Choose?

Essay by   •  June 6, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,471 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,356 Views

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What is leadership? This is a question that has been answered differently by many people over the past

few decades. Every person's scope is different and it depends on the reality they live every day. This

paper will focus in organizational life, so the previous question will be rephrased and the discussion will

start from there. What is leadership for a business organization? According to Zaleznik (1977) "Business

has contributed its answer to the leadership question by evolving a new breed called manager". This

could be confusing for some and as a consequence the terms leadership and management are often

used interchangeably in the business world to describe someone that manages a team of people

(Coach4growth, 2010). In reality, both terms have different meaning.

Leadership can be defined as "the process of influencing the activities of an organized group in its

efforts toward goal setting and goal achievement" (Buchanan & Huczynski 1985, p 596). On the other

hand, Management is "the coordination and the direction of the activities of oneself and others towards

some particular end" (Witzel 2004, p 1). At first glance, both concepts might seem comparable, but if

we look deeply into their implications, differences show. The only common thing between them is the

objective: accomplish something! But, leaders and managers fulfill their goals in a different way.

Management is about solving problems and like Kotter (1990) says; it is also about coping with

complexity. Twenty first century organizations are complex; divided into business units that target

different markets, trying to satisfy what they think are the customer needs, distributing proper tasks

along the organizational structure and setting objectives that need to be met to achieve all the

previously said. Here is when management comes in, to keep organizations in order while reaching its

objectives. A manager asks: "What problems have to be solved, and what are the best ways to achieve

results so that people will continue to contribute to this organization?" (Zaleznik, 1977). The answer to

this question involves among others: budgets, resource allocation, strategy development, analytical

skills, knowledge of organizational limitations and capabilities, monitoring results, quality assurance,

reports and staffing. It might seem boring if compared with other job functions, but all those processes

are essential to avoid organizational chaos.

Since the past century, organizations have become more competitive within or outside their industry,

technology changes are fast, research and development is nonstop. The environment around

organizations is pushing for a rapid change and this sends them a strong message: adapt or withdraw.

Any success industry is a living proof of these changes; the oil industry is one of them. Worldwide

demand for oil has pushed companies to search and extract it from hostile environments like deep

water in the North Sea, or extremely high temperature reservoirs like the ones found in Mexico.

Operating companies want to get the most even from their depleted reservoirs. Technology is a key

factor; oil service companies who have it and can provide it efficiently and safely to the operating ones

have a competitive advantage. Oil service companies are always in the quest of better technologies and

processes to keep up with their customer needs, which are basically the market's needs. Stock markets

are so volatile these days, that an accident like BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 can unleash a

disaster in the economy and deeply affect industry's reputation. Here is where I believe leadership plays

its important role.

Leadership seeks to influence people's emotions and needs (the need to be valued by the senior staff or

the need to develop their careers, for example) to achieve the leader's goals, but it is also focused in

organizational success and driven by the changes in the environment (Kotter, 1990). Because of this;

leaders also develop strategies to accomplish their vision. A leader asks: what do the people in the

organization have to do to overcome these rapid changes successfully and how do I make both the

changes and the people part of my vision for the organization? Based on the given definition of

leadership, a leader exerts influence in the workforce so they align to his goals and envision them. In

order to do this, a leader has to motivate and inspire people (Kotter, 1990), so they will follow the

strategic path given and overcome with the best attitude any obstacle they encounter, foreign or

domestic to the organization.

What is needed now days are managers that can lead! It is not easy to find people that can be both a

manager and a leader, but managers can work on their leadership skills with the proper training.

Organizations should take very seriously these last two points. It is not a matter of finding effective

leaders to run a company. "Companies should remember that strong leadership with weak

management is no better and

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