Managers Vs Leaders

| January, 2013


One of the most common misconceptions we find in the corporate world is related to leadership and management being the two sides of the same coin. Often, these two terms are used interchangeably. Many times, people refer to the term ‘leadership’ to refer to the people at the very top of an organizational hierarchy. But in reality, there is a vast difference between these two. While management is all about running day to day operation of an organization which involves processes like planning, budgeting, staffing, performance measuring and problem solving; leadership on the other hand is associated with taking an organization into the future and seeking and grabbing opportunities for the organization to flourish in the long run. Leadership is about vision, empowerment and producing transformational change. Against the popular notion of the two being substitutes of each other, in fact they are complementary in nature. Thus, both have completely different and equally important role to play towards the success of an organization.
A well-defined management practice and a superior management to implement them are deemed to be quintessential for an organization to prosper. A collaborative study among MIT, Stanford, the London School of Economics, and the US Census Bureau of management practices around the US revealed that the plants that had the strongest scores on a scale that combined all of the best practices outperformed others on everything from profits to growth to patents per employee. As per a Stanford University working paper titled "The Value of Bosses", the average boss adds about 1.75 times as much output as the average worker. The study showed that while adding a tenth employee in a team of nine employees raised productivity by 11%, replacing the low-performing boss with a high-performing one raised productivity by 12%. It also conceded that good bosses tend to have a greater impact on high-performing employees by improving on working skills and work habits.
However, for the management to function well, it is imperative to have good leaders who provide with the sense of empowerment to the managers. In that sense, leader should not be bothered about the details of the day to day operations but should always look at the bigger picture and have a holistic view. Virgin group has taken this concept to a new level by empowering managers with the freedom to run the businesses as their own. While the same can not be implemented by the traditional organization but providing with better communication and concerted effort among the leader and managers are the least they could do. In this context, the efficacy of meetings is questionable as they often fail to provide with the desired result. We must go beyond traditional ways. We need to radicalize; in the words of Richard Branson, ''Don’t just play the game – change it for good."