The importance of being a successful leader cannot be emphasized enough when operating in a managerial position. While being a successful leader in the workplace does not require being a manger, almost all managers require positive leadership skills to be successful in their role. Whether analyzing the aspects of management from a roles approach or functional approach, leadership is required to build interpersonal relationships, motivate coworkers and employees to achieve organizational goals, and establish an appropriate organizational culture.
Leadership is regarded as both an informational and practical topic, and therefore its application is ongoing, can take many forms, and evolves over time. Afsaneh Nahavandi (2015) establishes that leadership has been defined in many ways, and there are three main aspects that comprise the definition of leadership. The first aspect is straight forward in that leaders need followers. The second states that leadership is directive, meaning that leaders inspire and influence others to carry out and complete organizational goals. The final aspect of leadership is that with its presence, a form of hierarchy is henceforth established. When taking these characteristics into account, Nahavandi (2015) defines a leader as, “any person who influences individuals and groups within an organization, helps them establish goals, and guides them toward achievement of those goals, thereby allowing them to be effective” (p. 3).
Leadership vs. Management
When discussing the importance of leading as a manger, it is necessary to observe the differences and similarities between leadership and management. The first and main disparity between the two would be in regards to time. The aspects of management are more tangible in terms of measuring quantitative data. In most cases, these goals are measurable in quantifiable terms, with emphasis being put on numbers specific to the employee, department, or organization.
The characteristics of leadership are usually defined by more qualitative terms such as goal accomplishment, adequate and open communication, and employee motivation and satisfaction. The realm of management is more outcome driven and focuses on the day to day performance and operations of the organization which are defined by the mission, vision, strategy, and goals of the company.
Leadership is more focused on the future, and innovation in implementing the strategy of the organization as defined by its mission and vision. Though this distinction can be made in the definitions of leadership and management, they certainly go hand-in-hand.
As previously stated, not all leaders are managers, but most managers lead, and therefore should understand the importance of leading in their role. Sutton (2010) contrasts leadership and management by expressing that managerial tasks can be overlooked in the attempt to step into a leadership role, and vice-versa. It is important to remembers both the similarities and disparities between the two when managing in the workplace.
Nahavandi, A. (2015). The art and science of leadership (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Publishers.
Sutton, R. L. (2010). Good boss, bad boss: How to be the best and learn from the worst. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.