Leaders and Managers
Leaders and managers are some of the most necessary entities in any group setting. This is because groups, be they small class project groups or multinational corporations, cannot function well without the presence of these people.
While leadership and management are sometimes used interchangeably, the defining characteristics and core functions of both differentiate them markedly.
Leadership is the ability to motivate and influence one’s followers or members to develop themselves and work towards a common goal. Management, on the other hand, is the ability to control and direct the everyday working processes of an organization towards its objectives.
Evolution of the Concept of Leadership
History, as you already know, is filled with stories of men and women who went to battle for honor and glory. Today, these types of leaders will be most suited for one specific field and not entire nations as they used to. As you can imagine, as society’s needs and structures changed, so did the concept of leadership.
It is important to learn these ideas of leadership to help with a complete understanding of the concept of leadership. The following are definitions from the past century.
During this time, definitions of leadership focused on control and domination. Basically, leadership was considered as the ability to impose one’s will on others. The members or the followers are not considered in any way.
At this time, the idea of leadership started looking into personal traits. Instead of imposing, leaders influence their followers. These traits and capabilities are acknowledged to not only come from the identified leader, but also potential leaders in the entire group.
During this period, the focus shifted to the group itself. Leadership is said to be whatever the behavior of an individual is while they are in control of a group.
At this period, the definitions of leadership focused on the following: what leaders can do in a group, shared goals based on a leader’s behavior, and efficiency.
Once more, the focus of the concept of leadership during this time was on the idea of shared goals. Basically, leadership was seen as any behavior that motivates people to act towards the attainment of a common objective.
Organizational behavior is the new focus of the definition of leadership during this time. Responsibility was considered as the core idea of leadership, but both leaders and followers were expected to be mutually motivated to act towards the attainment of organizational objectives. This responsibility includes stewardship of the organization’s resources and aiming to gain better outcomes.
Somehow, during this period, ideas about leadership reverted back to some of the ideas from the beginning of the century. The following themes were dominant during that time:
- members or followers are expected to act as the leader wishes
- leaders possessed traits that made them leaders, but becoming one is also based on excellence
- leaders and members transform each other by raising one another up
1990’s to 21st Century
Different approaches to leadership were developed during this period. They will be discussed in the lesson on leadership styles.