Management and leadership are terms that are frequently used interchangeably, however, they are not the same thing – they have quite distinct meanings. The two do have similarities but they also have important differences. This research report aims to understand the difference between leadership and management and why these differences are important. It also puts this into a modern context, so that they can be understood against a backdrop of increasingly technological workplaces and with regard to other aspects of organizations today, including areas such as teleworking and outsourcing, for example.
The world of work has undergone significant change in recent years, and it is important to understand these changes in order to gain perspective on this work.
Cooper (2005, p.1) states that:
“By the end of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, a major restructuring of work as we have never known it since the industrial revolution was beginning to take place… Organizations throughout the Western world and even further afield, dramatically ‘downsized’, ‘de-layered’, ‘flattened’ or ‘right sized’. Whatever euphemism you care to use, the hard reality experienced by many was job loss and wrenching change”.
As Cooper describes it, this has led to leaner organizations and less security, and new technologies that have in turn driven changes in both organizational structures and individual competencies. As companies face new challenges and the everincreasing speed of change, there have been a number of fundamental changes in the way that businesses operate that affect leadership and management skills that are required by organizations. According to Cooper, these include becoming more flexible and adaptable, outsourcing parts of the business, a move to a white collar workforce rather than a blue collar one, and teleworking. Cooper argues that all of these have fundamentally changed organizations and have led to entities that are flatter.
According to Cooper, organizations now need to manage “enormous change” as well as increase the diversity of work that they are doing. As a result, it may be argued that both leadership and management skills have had to adapt so that organizations are able to survive. Specifically, Burke and Cooper (2004) write about how management is now based around knowledge workers and the management of those individuals, and that information has become of great importance in the organization, and the volume of information to manage was considerably less in the past. This has clearly had a profound impact on the types of leadership and management skills that are required in organizations in the 21st century. Organizations have had to adapt to such dramatic changes, and correspondingly, leadership and management skills have changed.
Cooper (2005) goes on to argue that during the last few decades people have come to understand the management role as a “control mechanism”. In addition to having skills that are technical, these days one of the primary skills also required is that of managing people. Arguably this has always been the case of course, but Cooper discusses how this has never been truer. He also describes the work of Handy from 1976, who argued that the role of the manager as an occupation that people identify with had recently emerged at that time. Cooper writes that Handy argued that there were two main roles of managers – one was the manager as a person and the other the management as a General Practitioner. Managers have to develop skills to ensure that they are marketable on the one hand (the person side) but on the GP side, they have to deal with problems that require solutions. Cooper (2005, p. 5) states that this has led to managers who can diagnose organizational problem symptoms and address the problem, but who really do not necessarily understand the causes of the problem, leading these same issues to repeat over and over again....
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