Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Inner Conflict Between Management and Leadership


As I said in my last post Henry Mintzberg offers managers three areas of competence or roles central to our responsibilities as a manager that we should also consider. These he calls: “interpersonal”, “informational” and “decisional”. Our “interpersonal” responsibilities include being the figurehead, providing the central liaison point and acting as the leader. “Informational” responsibilities include monitoring activity, disseminating information and acting as spokesperson for the group. Finally “decisional” activities are, being entrepreneurial, handling disruptions, allocating resources and negotiating on behalf of the organisation. These issues will also be expanded in the various other management lessons.

Management is about all the issues that Mintzberg defines and hence the polarities or two head problem, as managers today need to be leaders so perhaps the following will explain the dilemma further…


Traditional management (in the bad/good old days) used to concern itself with; supervision, checking, delegating, controlling, inputs and how to make sure the staff did what they where told. Managers where seen as fitting along a style line somewhere between laissez faire (lax) and autocratic (despotic), with us all being encouraged to be somewhere in the middle as democrats. 

Today the issue is more complex with the newly ‘empowered’ better educated workforce that most of us today manage, our personal style preference is perhaps less relevant and we as managers need to become ‘more things’ to a more demanding workforce. The concept of a manager also fulfilling a leader role is prevalent in most companies. Some even argue managers are no longer required at all and it is only leaders that will drive the companies of the future. This is fine in theory however corporate culture can take a long time to change and for the majority of us the expectation is that we will be required to fulfil the duel roles. This creates inner conflict as the ideals of the two disciplines are at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

The following list gathered from a wide range of sources gives some insights into the problem facing most managers:  

MANAGEMENT is about: CONTROLLING... Don’t leave our department, check what they’re up to, define competence requirements and ‘our title and position give us the authority’ to act within the company procedures and policies. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: FREEDOM... Finding ways to encourage liberalization, creativity and initiative by letting our ‘followers’ participate in a flexible situation where we share authority and perhaps break the rules

MANAGEMENT is about: SURVIVING... Dealing with short-term operational needs and processes whilst strictly controlling costs and watching the budget, and sweating on the monthly targets. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: GROWTH... Identifying new and possibly risky ventures that could be the basis for future income (and perhaps losses) and allowing unplanned changes of direction in and attempt to capitalize on fleeting market opportunities

MANAGEMENT is about: MANAGING... Instructing, allocating, delegating, following up, disciplining, organizing and directing. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: LEADING...Inspiring, helping, encouraging teamwork, coaching, supporting, constant feedback, continuous personal development and goal alignment

MANAGEMENT is about: ADMINISTRATING... Overseeing activities, processes & individual tasks, control, supervision and testing against norms and agreed procedures 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: STRATEGISING... Seeking process improvement, implementing change, agreeing goals and empowering followers whilst constantly questioning the value of the plans in light of unfolding events

MANAGEMENT is about: ORDER & CONSISTENCY... Protecting the existing structure, systems, traditions and ‘the status quo’, belief that past successes give insights into the way forward and relying on accumulated ‘facts’ or ‘truths’ 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: CREATING CHANGE... Vision, direction, values and destruction of ‘the way we’ve always done it’, or as Jack Welsh (ex GE) and others put it engaging in ‘continuos creative destruction’

MANAGEMENT is about: COMPETING... Seeking the winning edge, overcoming those in the way & moving up the ‘ladder’, being your own ‘spin-doctor’ and being heavily involved in corporate politics. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: COLLABORATING... Showing love and respect for individuals and seeking win-win solutions and actively promoting the success of our team members and presenting them in a good light

MANAGEMENT is about: DOING THINGS RIGHT... Organising, setting the rules and seeing rules are followed (compliance), being the inspector, keeping up with the latest technical advances and controlling information. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: DOING THE RIGHT THINGS... Developing trust and taking risks (commitment) to ensure all ‘followers’ meet their full potential and know what is the most desirable way forward through full disclosure of operational needs and wants.

MANAGEMENT is about: INPUTS... Amount, type and quality of resources, understanding of cash flow and cash burn rates, effective plant utilisation, staff allocation and efficient use of raw materials.
LEADERSHIP, which is about: OUTPUTS... The level and volume of satisfied customers we can create, the market and how it perceives our organisation and how we can become the best in our field and how to provide more value to our customer.

MANAGEMENT is about: MANAGING THINGS. Being operations focused, having high levels of technical expertise (or at least understanding) and using people as production inputs or resources. 
LEADERSHIP, which is about: LEADING PEOPLE... Our charisma, socialised power, expertise in human relations, superior communication skills, inspiration & motivation and seeing human beings as potentials.

Not sure where the original material above came from as it was part of a training course I inherited, however I found some excellent additional reading with references listed here:

With the conflicting nature of these requirements we really need to be a bit of a two-headed monster if we are to be successful as a manager and the dilemma will continue throughout our working life.


  1. Management and leadership are two separated things. But in my opinion, as a leader we do both of them. We lead, but we manage things as well and many more. It's an interesting subject and I think I'll buy some books about this... I want to learn more. Thank you so much for this detailed article about management and leadership.

  2. Great Article....thx