Manager or Leader - Which is Better?

by Angela K. Love
Originally published on October 29, 2018, on Angela’s LinkedIn.

An ongoing conversation seems to continue about managers versus leaders with the word managerhaving somewhat of a negative connotation when someone is being compared to a leader.  Additionally, many individuals debate which leadership style is the most effective.  Since the definition of leadershipis debated, it is a challenge to agree upon which leadership style is best.  In the manager versus leader debate, I have often heard individuals say over the years, “He a good manager, but not a leader!”  Or, “She’s good at leading!”  And, the most common, “Individuals need to be leaders, not managers.”  

Which do you aspire to be?  A manager or a leader?  Me?  I aspire to be good at both and here’s why!

Using managing skills takes care of the whataspect of the job; determining what tasks need to be accomplished when.  Whereas, leadership is the howaspect of the job; determining how to motivate or work with others to accomplish those tasks.  Regardless of an employee’s job title, all employees use management and leadership skills. 

Most, if not every, position requires managing and leading.  Many employees have a list of tasks they need to accomplish and some of those tasks include working with others to see them to completion.  For example, an employee may need to complete a variety of reports, and in order to complete those reports, they may need to obtain information from others.  They will use managing tasks to organize their time to obtain the information they need to complete required reports by stated deadline.  And, they will use leadership skills such as written and verbal communication to work with others to obtain the data they need from them.  

Good managing skills may include organizing, meeting deadlines, and managing time to complete tasks.  Managing can also include problem solving and delegating tasks and keeping track of who is doing what.  Managing is transactional.      

Leadership, on the other hand, involves motivating others by being a positive influencer, using effective communication skills, and providing job resources for employees such as training; clear and concise procedures and policies; work engagement; and, positive and constructive feedback.  Leadership is behavioral.  Academic scholars, Evangelia Demerouti and Arnold Bakker, have shared that job resources fall into the four areas of a) support, b) autonomy, c) feedback, and d) positive social and family relationships.  Some scholars argue that to provide job resources to employees to increase productivity requires the use of transformation or servant leadership.  

Others may argue the authentic, transactional, or charismatic leadership styles are the most effective at providing resources for employees to motivate them to engage in work.  One thing everyone can probably agree on is that the list of leadership styles from which to choose is long.  

Here is a list of just a few types of leadership styles.  Some of these leadership styles are more desirable than others.

·     Adaptive leadership
·     Autocratic leadership
·     Authentic leadership
·     Bureaucratic leadership
·     Coercive leadership
·     Democratic leadership
·     Laissez-faire leadership
·     Psychodynamic leadership
·     Servant leadership
·     Situational leadership
·     Strategic leadership
·     Team leadership
·     Transformational leadership
·     Transactional leadership

The following chart demonstrates how leadership and management traits work together to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes. 

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 2.31.38 PM.png

I could add more to the chart, but I think most can see the idea that leadership and management traits can be combined and used together to increase the likelihood of the best results.   

Larry Kim, CEO of Mobile Monkey, tweeted, “Good managers do the things right, good leadership does the right thing.”

I like his saying, but reworded as, “Management and leadership skills can be combined to do the right things the right way.”

What do you think?  Can management and leadership skills be combined to experience improved outcomes?