Strategic Management vs Leadership

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Strategic Leadership vs. Strategic Management: Untying The Gordian Knot

Robert M. Murphy, Ph.D.
Professor of Management United States Army War College

This views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of the United States War College, the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, or any agency of the U.S. government.

Note from the Author This paper is a work in progress. The purpose of this paper is to elicit comments from fellow scholars and practitioners as to the soundness of the concepts put forth in this paper.

The Problem By now most of us are getting tired of the endless attempts to distinguish between the concepts of managers and leaders. Some people have given up and used the terms interchangeably. A review of the literature reveals that there is a wide array of where people and institutions stand on the issue. As an example, the US Army includes the concept of management as part of their concept of leadership (Army Regulation, 5-1), while others like Shermerhorn (1996) and Bateman and Zeithaml (1995) include it as a major function of management. Why the wide divergence? Why does the US Army use leadership as the focal point while the business world and academe use texts such as those written by Bateman and Zeithaml and Schermerhorn take a totally opposite perspective. A more important question is “What difference does it make?” as long as the organization accomplishes its goals and objectives. Through the years as a military officer, a small business entrepreneur, a consultant, and now as an academic, I am struck by the continual looseness in the use of these terms. When addressing the issues with colleagues, I often hear, "Why bother, we still need to get the job done." The answer I believe lies in the fact that there continues to be a myriad of management "How TO" books published every year, an undeniable indicator that there seems to be an...
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