Ayman Nassar
Founder, Intercontinental Networks www.anassar.net anassar@anassar.net

Leadership and Management: Are They Different Constructs?
Back to Basics
Numerous definitions exist for traditional leadership [1]. I define traditional leadership as a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals or self, to achieve an important valuable and common goal. This is almost the same definition presented by Northouse [1] with the addition that influence could also be on oneself and usually the goal is common, important and of value from the leader’s perspective. The leader’s main role is to convince self and the team that the goals have common value and are of high significance and importance. Traditional management has been defined by Fayol [2] to comprise of 5 main functions, planning, organizing, coordinating, directing and controlling. Planning involves studying the future, performing forecasts, developing scenarios, setting goals, defining objectives, mission development, vision setting and authorizing charters, and arranging the means for dealing with the needs identified as a result of these studies and definitions. Organizing involves developing architectures, designs, standards, processes, methods and approaches to make work accomplished and repeatable. Directing ensures that the team has the proper understanding of the direction to be followed, and work strategy to be implemented; it entails negotiation, motivation, communication, ensuring focus and alignment. Controlling is ensuring that work is carried out according to the plans developed, it comprises of measuring work results, comparing to baselines, limiting resource usage and optimization, prioritization, verification and validation of work as well as mitigating risks.

We notice from the above definitions and roles of a leader and manager that there is commonality in the construct of both, as both roles shares several common functions such as the influencing aspect in leadership and the directing aspect in management. The planning role is also another common area. While leaders focus more on strategic planning for their entire organization and less on tactical planning, a manager will focus on strategic planning for his/her particular work group as well as tactical planning.

There are some differences between a leader and a manager; these differences are more pronounced in areas of organization and coordination. For leaders to be effective they need to be able to at least organize their own tasks, responsibilities and functions, however they might not be deeply involved in enterprise-wide organization, this task might be delegated more to managers. Leaders will also seldom coordinate between resources; some exceptions are interorganizational coordination such as in the form of negotiations, and highly strategic relationships.

Are the Constructs Really Different
Although I mention some differences between management and leadership and Kotter has highlighted several differences in [1], I am hesitant to state that leadership and management have entirely different constructs and structures. The constructs overlap to a large extent, even though they have slightly different points of view. However they are highly intertwined and connected. This is especially true in the current times where business processes have become more sophisticated and complex than in the past, and change is taking place at a high pace touching almost every corner of an organization, regardless of its type of activities.

For a leader to be effective, the leader must exhibit strong managerial skills, similarly for the manager to be effective strong leadership skills must be available.

Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between traditional management and leadership, and examples of two technical domains which span the leadership and management domains. Individuals in these roles need to not only manage the technical, logistical, administrative and programmatic areas of the product, system or service, but also need to lead the “best interest” of the product, system or service. This leadership exhibits itself in the form of strategy development, innovation planning, influencing other groups internally and externally, aligning product development, marketing, sales and service teams, negotiating technical capabilities against schedule and cost are other aspects of technical leadership.

Systems Engineering
Problem Solving Motivating Negotiation Planning Directing Needs Analysis Critical Thinking Emotional Intelligence



Product Management

Figure 1. Depiction of the overlap between management and leadership, and examples of two technical functions which encompass both management and leadership functions.

Separating management from leadership is not a wise decision regardless of the organizational level. At higher levels of the organization leadership will be more profound and of higher importance. However all levels of the organization should exhibit a degree of leadership, even at the non-managerial staff level, which could simply be self-leadership. This model will allow organizations to be more competitive, agile, flexible and innovative resulting in true value delivery to their stakeholders.

[1] P. Northouse, “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, 4th edition, Sage Publications, 2007. [2] Society of Human Resources Management, “Strategic Management”, SHRM Learning System, 2005.