Management and leadership are different constructs


There has always been a thin line between leadership and management. It is important to note that, more emphasis is placed on the later in some of the most elite business schools and institutions. Could this mean that leadership does not play an important role in business constructs? This first section of this paper is going to defend the notion that leadership and management are different constructs (Bolman & Deal, 2017). First and foremost we need to completely understand what the two mean and the differences that set them apart. Leadership is the act of being the guide of a team to a clearly defined direction. On the other hand management is the organization and coordination that pertain a business with an aim of achieving certain defined objectives (Johnston & Marshall, 2016). Additionally, it is important to know that management can be taught in school but leadership on the other hand cannot. From our definition of management, we can deduce that it is a more structured process where the manger in this case outlines clear steps to be taken by his subordinates and later evaluates their success rates (Renz, 2016).

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Leadership differs from management in that it does not entail a structured process or a road map. The leader gives a clear vision of the end product or goal and allows his juniors the liberty to choose their most comfortable path to attain it (Nahavandi, 2016). This is what sets apart managers who only possess management skills and those that possess leadership skills. In support of this, people who have had the privilege to work under a manager with leadership skills have expressed the growth both career wise and personally in their non-work environment, as opposed to those that worked under a manager who lacked leadership skills. It should be noted that, management skills play an important role in achieving the business objectives. However, a combination of both management and leadership skills help the business and also positively impacts the lives of the workers. Some of the best performing companies in the world have attained their fete due to their leaders. It is important to highlight that a leader leads from the front and doesn’t provide instructions like managers do in their day to day lives.

In this second section of the paper we are going to delve into analysing two leadership approaches; trait approach and skills approach. The trait approach is the pioneer of leadership approaches and provides a reference point from which other approaches would originate from. It embarks on trying to prove that leaders were individuals in society who not only commanded respect but also inspired the general populous (Northouse, 2015). This approach commonly referred to as the “great man” approach of leadership, was of the opinion that leadership was not reliant on the environment or followers but rather on certain set of characteristics possessed by the individual. Additionally, it sets to compare the various global leaders and their characters traits that set them apart from the rest, making them leaders. However, this approach favours the notion that the traits possessed by these leaders are inborn. Further, the approach suggested that these leaders’ traits cannot be developed or taught since they are inborn (Goetsch & Davis, 2014).

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The skills approach on the other hand sought to investigate the abilities and skills that make leaders successful. It is important to note that, the skills approach was birthed from the flaws that were identified in the trait approach (Armstrong & Taylor, 2015). This approach employs two theories namely: the Mumford’s skills model and three-skill approach. As the name suggests the later approach asserts that successful leadership require three skills: technical, conceptual, and human skills. The Mumford’s skills model outlines five building blocks of successful leadership. These are identified as competencies, environmental influences, career experiences, individual attributes, and leadership outcomes.

The two approaches discussed above have an impacting role as far as effective leadership is concerned. However, they still have similarities and differences that set them apart. One of the most pronounced similarity is that both recognize the fact that effective leaders possess certain qualities that distinguish them (Ward, 2016). From the trait approach, effective leadership is attributed to certain inborn traits that the leaders possess. Similarly, the skills approach attribute the effectiveness of leaders to be directly associated to certain skills present in them that sets them apart from the rest. However, these two approaches have differences with a major one being the contentious issue of whether effective leaders are born or trained. The trait approach favours the notion that leaders are born while the skills approach is of the view that leadership can be learnt and that a process of continuous learning can in the end create an effective leader.

The second difference that stands out between the two approaches is the consistency of effective leaders. The trait approach shows little or no consistent patterns in effective leaders. Two individual can have totally different traits from one another and both enjoy effective leadership. When it comes to skills approach, due to the fact that effective leadership is a skill that can be perfected with time and continuous learning, therefore any manager can learn any skills required in his field of expertise (Klenke, 2016). Trait approach being a pioneering approach in trying to understand effective leaders, incorporated heavy reliance on physical traits like height and physique as prerequisites in identifying effective leaders. Skills approach relies on more skill based strengths and disregards physical traits when identifying effective leaders (Daft, 2014). The final difference is that the trait approach gives no regard to the relationship of the followers towards the leader. Skills approach puts into consideration a lot of external influence of the leader in terms of his followers as a major contributing factor for his or her effectiveness.

William Henry Gates III (Bill Gates) biography

Among the global leaders none has impacted the world as William Henry Gates III. Not only has his effective leadership earned him the title richest man on earth but also influenced millions globally. He was born on October 28th in 1955 in Seattle, Washington. At a young age Bill developed an interest in computers and was already coding at the age of six years of age. He enrolled at a private preparatory school called the Lakeside School. While in school Gates took interest in computer based studies and when in eighth grade he took interest in programming a GE computer that the school’s mothers’ club had purchased (Yoffie & Cusumano, 2015) He did this with his friend Paul Allen who arguably was Bills most trusted ad close friend. Gates went on to graduate high school attaining 1590 points out of a maximum 1600 points on the college SAT making him among the top in his state.

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He later joined Harvard University in 1973 to pursue his degree in law. However, two years he dropped out of university to pursue his business Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen as his partner. Microsoft is a computer technology company that specializes in software solutions especially for personal computers. After a lucrative deal with computer hardware manufacturer IBM Microsoft made a staggering sixteen million dollars within the first three years of operation with IBM. Bill Gates married Melinda French in 1994 in Hawaii. Melinda was Microsoft’s product manager when she met him. They got their first daughter Jennifer, in 1996 and later in 1999 had a son Rory. In 2002 they got their second daughter, Phoebe. Bill is regarded as the philanthropist of the twenty first century. This was after he and his wife Melinda set up the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation whose sole purpose was to support education, healthcare and financial activities in poor communities. In 2008 June 27th, Bill Gates officially retired from Microsoft and devotes his full time to his foundation’s activities. Over the next years after his retirement Bill has been involved in global tours giving public talks and exploring how the foundation can help make the globe a better place. Bill has been named the wealthiest man on earth by the Forbes magazine constantly over the last eight years. Over years the rivalry between Bill gates and Steve Jobs had intensified as both tried to outdo each other. The result of the competition is that it led to the improvement in technology standards.

The final section of this paper seeks to apply the two leadership approaches mention section two towards the leader discussed in the third section. The trait approach can be applied to Bill Gates because he was inquisitive and quite the exceptional child during a very young age. He was an avid reader at the age six and this set him apart from the rest of the six year olds then. One can put it that Gates was a born leader since from his childhood he has always been a step ahead from the rest of his age mates. In regard to skills approach Bill Gates moulded his persona as we see him today through tireless learning over decades. Bill learnt all he knows either through training or personal experience in his company, Microsoft. From the skills approach we understand that leadership can be learnt (Al-Asfour & Lettau, 2015)This has been the case for Bill Gates who has over time perfected his craft as a public figure and also in the technology field of operation setting standards for young entrepreneurs to emulate. Through his foundation he has been able to impact many with his skills and thus creating other leaders just like him who have the wellbeing of society at heart.

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  1. Al-Asfour, A., & Lettau, L. (2014). Strategies for leadership styles for multi-generational workforce. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 11(2), 58.
  2. Armstrong, M., & Taylor, S. (2014). Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers.
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  5. Goetsch, D. L., & Davis, S. B. (2014). Quality management for organizational excellence. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  6. Johnston, M. W., & Marshall, G. W. (2016). Sales force management: Leadership, innovation, technology. Routledge.
  7. Klenke, K. (Ed.). (2016). Qualitative research in the study of leadership. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  8. Nahavandi, A. (2016). The Art and Science of Leadership -Global Edition. Pearson.
  9. Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications.
  10. Renz, D. O. (2016). The Jossey-Bass handbook of nonprofit leadership and management. John Wiley & Sons.
  11. Ward, J. (2016). Keeping the family business healthy: How to plan for continuing growth, profitability, and family leadership. Springer.
  12. Yoffie, D. B., & Cusumano, M. A. (2015). Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs. HarperBusiness.
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