Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leadership vs. Management Skills: Understanding the Differences

Leadership and management abilities are important in developing strong organizations that can create more synergy and financial benefits for the organization and its members. The skills and abilities appear to be similar for both leaders and managers but are separated by the ability to influence large groups of people. Leaders use their vision to create dynamic organizations that can overcome market challenges while managers focus more on skill based abilities.

Effective management has a number of components that lead to successful completion of duties.  Through proper skill development and appropriate perspectives management can create higher levels of organizational activity that improves upon the financial health of the.  Two lists of strong manager qualities encourage this greater understanding.

List 1) Quality managers have abilities that encourage their successful management of people (Barry, 2000):
a.       Inspiring shared vision,
b.      Strong communication Skills,
c.       Enthusiasm,
d.      Team Building Skills,
e.       Problem Solving Skills,
f.       Empathy of others,
g.      Competence under Pressure.

List 2) Gates further describes a list of qualities that strong managers should consider (2004):
a.       Thoughtful Choice of Occupation,
b.      Hiring Carefully and Firing Lazy Workers,
c.       Creating Productive Work Environments,
d.      The Ability to Define Success,
e.       Building Employee Moral,
f.       Willingness to Personally Handle Projects,
g.      Ability to Cater Decisions to Problems,
h.      Ability to Create Strong Reporting Structure.

Management abilities and leadership abilities are often seen as interchangeable. However, the skills that make a person a strong manager would not necessarily make this same person a strong leader. Strong leaders have the capacity to be effective managers but also bring with them a better sense of vision and purpose. They have the ability to draw together all of the organizational elements to solve specific business problems while not ignoring the human factors that allow this to happen. 

Leaders have slightly different skills when compared to managers that should be considered.  These skills typically focus more on motivating and encouraging larger populations to accomplish worthwhile goals. Leaders must be able to sell their vision to the organizational members as well as operationally manifest this vision through focused policies & procedures that steer an organization in the right direction. Leadership abilities are often see as personality traits (Melmuka, 2000):
a.       Ability in Persuasion,
b.      A Desire to be Generous,
c.       The Ability to Formulate a Vision,
d.      Flexibility in One’s Thinking,
e.       The Understanding of Humor in Life.

Organizations that seek to develop the next generation of leaders should encourage positive management skills from the beginning of employment so that leadership personality traits can grow. Management skills often lead to new methods of perception that are necessary in developing leadership traits. It is through these constantly refining abilities does the manager learn the wider context of decisions that encourage positive leadership traits.

Barry, T. R. (2000). Top 10 Qualities for Project Manager. Retrieved February 5th, 2013 from http://lahcen.afif.be/files/top-10-qualities-of-a-project-manager.pdf

Gates, B. (2004). A Good Manager Has At Least 10 Good Qualities. Retrieved February 5th, 2013 from http://www.worklifecoach.com/bill_gates.pdf

Melymuka, K. (2000). “Born To Lead Projects”, Computerworld, 43(13): 62.

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