The Relationship Between Leadership and Management: An Organizational Construct Approac
I have previously defined leadership “as a natural aura that followers can sense, feel, and identify.” I further defined this aura as stemming from a powerful analytical knowledge that can be applied through a personal formula leading to success in path creation. To understand how this conception of leadership compares to management I am compelled to place the two terms within the context of The Organization. I have chosen the term organization over company, firm, or team, because I believe that leadership and management play off each other innumerably and organization is thus the best all-encompassing term to discuss leadership and management within.
I also want to make it clear from the very beginning that I see management and leadership as characterizations that blend together within individual positions in an organization. However, I discuss them as separate entities, because I see them as different roles that a singular individual can occupy at different times from his position. They are distinctly separate roles even if an individual can occupy them both from one position.
Within an organization, leadership is defined by the capacity to understand the realities of a particular direction for said organization. Therefore, a leader has the capacity to understand the possible paths of an organization, to choose the “best” path, and to create a vision of that choice for consumption by the entire organization.
In the same construct of the organization, management is defined by how all the various portions of the organization are woven together in a communication network. Therefore, a manager is the facilitator of the communication network, ensuring the transfer of information within the organization’s components.
The Relationship Between Leadership and Management: An Organizational Construct Approach
February 18, 2010
Dr. Gillette – Leadership for the Information Renaissance: Competitive Intelligence and the Strategic Uses of Information
1. Introducing Rational
2. Lenses to view the Organizational Construct
3. Managers, Workers, and Leaders
4. Seeing the Organization as a Composite System
5. Management and Leadership in Organizational Culture
6. How Managers and Leaders Solve Problems within the Organizational System
7. The Exchange of Management and Leadership
Lenses to view the Organizational Construct
The multinational corporation IBM studied inter-organization management relationships and created a management construct relative to the fact that they had a presence in sixty-four different countries. This project relates to the idea that management is relative to culture and that this construct could be used to understand management processes in their multitude of multinational branches. I use three of their categories (their fourth category is irrelevant due to its lack of attention to gender theory) to understand the organizational constructs that give birth to management: power distance, individualism, and uncertainty avoidance. Power distance is the degree of inequality among people, which the population considered acceptable or normal. Individualism is the emphasis on the individual and group mentalities, the “I” verses “we” orientation. Uncertainty avoidance is the dominance of structure within the organization as it relates to a comfort level with the certainty of an organization’s path. The first two categories relate to how communication operates within an organization, its organizational culture and the second focuses on the specific structures of an organization. These categories provide lenses to view, and better understand the relationship between management and leadership.
Managers, Workers, and Leaders
To understand the relationship between management and leadership within an organization, one has to understand the relationship between manager and worker. Workers have specific tasks to accomplish. When hired, they become empowered to make decisions within the scope of their specific tasks. Managers are the facilitators of the communication network between these workers and their respective tasks. It seems impractical to suggest that managers do not also make decisions, but because their purpose is to facilitate communication over a network, they don’t have tasks to accomplish through decision-making in the same manner that a worker does.
Despite being at the top of a hierarchal organization, leaders also have tasks to complete, just like the worker. They have to execute the task of charting the organization’s forward direction. They are empowered by their position to make decisions within this realm, just like the worker. The relationship between worker and the leader of the organization is the micro verses macro decisions that they make, respectively. As stated above, managers fit into this construct as the facilitators of the network connecting all parties.
Seeing the Organization as a Composite System
University of Arizona Professor, Thomas A. Petit, produced a diagram of the “Firm as a composite System” to aid in crafting his behavioral theory of management. This diagram helps to illustrate the idea of the organization within which these workers, managers, and leaders operate. Starting from the outside and moving towards the core, each layer becomes less permeable. The workers reside within the technical core, the managers within the organizational level, and the leaders within the institutional level.
As previously stated, there is give and take between leadership and management. Therefore, the organizational level does more managing than leading and the institutional level does more leading than managing, but it is important to realize both these levels as hybrids between leadership and management. Similarly, workers both manage and lead, but they reside in these roles infrequently when compared to the organizational level and the institutional level.
I would add to this diagram a barely visible outer layer of the ultimate leader. This individual provides the path for the composite system’s mobility. The system should not be understood as motionless as it interacts with the environment around it, but rather as moving dynamically through its environment and thus dynamically through its respective interactions. It is that ultimate leader providing the direction for said dynamic motion.
Management and Leadership in Organizational Culture
Management facilitates the communication network of an organization through the construct of its individual organizational culture. This organizational culture can be seen through the lenses of power distance and individualism. As facilitator of network communication, it is the manager’s job to understand the relationships within the organization through these lenses. A manager analyzes these relations by observing the regular interactions between people, and how these interactions form group norms. From a worker’s daily completion of tasks emerges the concept of the “rules of the game” that must be understood specifically and integrated with other worker’s perception of the “rules of the game” . This connection could also be understood as the organizational climate, the spatial layout of the interaction between a worker’s perceptions of daily operations as it relates to their individual skills.
Leadership relies on different tools to complete their organizational tasks. They are much more concerned with the formal philosophy of the organization as a whole. The leader analyses the environment around the organization as to find the best path for motion and uses this formal philosophy to communicate that path to the managers and workers. It is important that this formal philosophy is strong, understandable, something to which all members of the organization can connect. Without such a formal philosophy individual workers can be left feeling powerless, anonymous, and certainly disconnected from the leadership. An integration of symbols into this formal philosophy helps to facilitate that connection.
How Managers and Leaders Solve Problems within the Organizational System
Another way to understand the relationship between management and leadership is to compare how both ideas relate to problem solving. Through their position as the facilitators of an organization network, managers become the problem solvers of that organization. This role evolves from the reality that most problems within an organization result from issues in communication and as the facilitators of that network it falls to the managers to resolve these disruptions.
This role is seen through the lens of uncertainty avoidance within the management construct. Uncertainty avoidance relates to how structured an organization is – more structure for organizations focused on avoiding as much uncertainty as possible and less structure for those organizations comfortable with, or forced into, the realm of uncertainty. The scope of problem solving grows within these less structured organizations and introduces the possibility of more worker-oriented tasks (with the associated decision making properties) to the manager. Naturally, that scope shrinks within a more structured organization and holds the manager within the boundary of network facilitation more rigidly.
Leadership relates to problem solving in that it is the job of a leader to find the solutions to the directional and environmental problems of the organization. As the environment of the organization shifts, problems with the previously chosen path emerge and force the leader to react to solve them. This mode of problem solving also relates to uncertainty avoidance in that the more structured organization takes longer to change direction and thus solutions must be designed to accommodate this delay. Less structured organizations can shift more rapidly giving the leader more freedom in crafting a solution to a directional problem. It also allows for a greater degree of risk taking in problem solving, because direction can be shifted more quickly.
The Exchange of Management and Leadership
I have sought to explain the relationship between Management and Leadership by explaining how these entities operate within an Organizational construct. The concluding manner in which I see this relationship is that the two concepts exist at varying levels within an organization. Their relationship within these roles is quantity based. The more there is of one characteristic, the less there is of the other. When the leadership of an organization is strong and the communication of the leadership is efficient, then there exists less of a need for management of the organization’s communication network. However, when the leadership of an organization is weak and the communication of that leadership is weak, then there becomes a greater need for strong management of the communication network for the organization to operate efficiently and successfully.
This idea of an exchange reinforces that while the lines between management and leadership within an organization and within the individuals of an organization are blurred, the roles are distinctly separate. This separate nature of the roles results in the idea of the exchange. The more there is of one, by definition, the less there is of the other.