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Understanding management Essay


There are many different leadership and management theories, some of which may appear contradictory. The Author will briefly outline why they think there are so many different theories and the differences and similarities between managing and leading and how this contributes to such a vast literature on leadership and management. The Author will outline how theoretical ideas about leadership and management have changed over time using wider reading and module material from chapters 2 and 3;

Leading, Managing, Caring: understanding leadership and management in health and social care. Throughout this assignment the author will critically evaluate whether it is useful or confusing for a manager or leader in health and social care to have so many different theories to draw on. The Author will provide evidence and justify arguments drawing on the module materials and from wider reading. The Author will end by detailing a strong conclusion that demonstrates the evidence the Author has found followed by a list of references to close.


I believe there are many different styles of leadership and management theories as management and leadership have been defined in many different ways. The theorists each had their own definition of leadership and management from perspectives, behaviours, traits and situations and the development of concepts (e.g. charismatic and transformational). The different theories focuses on different tools and personal qualities of successful managers and leaders, with little critical analysis of the organisational context they may be working in (Chapter 1, Preparing to lead, page2).

Henri Fayol, (1949, cited in Fells, 2000) described a classical description of management, he defined five basic functions of a management job; planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling (Chapter 2, The Proactive Manager, page 42). Bennis “on becoming a leader” (1989, 44-45) definition between leader and manager had written about the differences of leaders and managers: The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

The manager maintains; the leader develops.

The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. However Bennis theory was written from a business perspective and fail to address a health and social care workforce (Chapter 1, page 2). Effective management and leadership is essential in health and social care, as managers within the health and social care sector are dealing with life-and-death situations. Hard-hitting cases much as the death of a baby highlights precisely why effective management and leadership is essential in health and social care. (Chapter 1, page3), therefore it is not as simple as just being a manager or leader, it is essential to be an effective leader or manager within the health and social care environment.

Henderson et al.(2003) believed a frontline manager is a person who manages a team and meets the needs of the organisation, as well as, the needs of the service users. The roles of frontline managers are, in accordance with Statham (1996); Implementing policies and guidelines and providing information to the team, by encouraging involvement of the employees of the department, Leadership, negotiation and communication, by being involved on a wide range of issues that affect employees, service users, or the organisation. Finally, promote training and supervision, by being involved in planning and development opportunities to meet the needs of the employees, the organisation and the service users.

I believe these different definitions introduced different leadership and management styles being produced by researchers and theorists and why there is a vast range of extensively researched management processes which in my opinion is confusing and can contradict each other, I lost sight slightly as to what leadership was after reading so much theories. Different authors have used different approaches or models for categorising what managers and leaders do and the skills they need. I also believe different styles and theories were produced as there seems to be no single style of leadership to be found universally effective as not everyone exhibits the same leadership behaviour.

I do believe that it helps to have an understanding of the pros and cons of each style as this will allow you to adapt your approach to the situation but at the same time can become confusing to the reader. But what is the difference between leadership and management (Kotter, 2001)? Differentiating leadership and management is not easy (Larkin,2008) however managers and leaders are quite distinct in their role and functions (Kotter, 1988). Managers think incrementally, work with and through other people, they act as channels of communication within the organisation, do things by the book, use a formal, rational method, they may have a set of job descriptions, and company policies and procedures which they have to follow. “Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing” (Pascale 1990).

Whereas a leader thinks radically, uses passion and stirs emotion and may not necessarily wield such formal power and may rely on their ability to motivate other people around a shared vision (Kotter, 1990), (Chapter 1; Preparing to lead, page 5). Larkin (2008, page 24) “Leadership and management differ from each other, not in what they want to achieve, but more in the means and approaches taken to get there”, Larkin suggests management focuses on outcomes and “pushes” people as a means of achieving those outcomes and tries to “pull” them in that direction. The difference between leadership and management detailed here by Larkin is the approach (Chapter 1: Preparing to lead, page 6).

Although there are differences between leadership and management , both play equally important and fundamental roles within any organisation and can work together very successfully. There is a natural overlap between the skills they require. The four building blocks of a fully rounded caring manager are the same as those for a fully rounded caring leader (personal awareness, team awareness, goal awareness and contextual awareness). Good caring management can be enhanced by effective leadership, and caring leaders can benefit from sound management awareness, (Chapter 1, Figure 1.3). A great deal has been written about leadership throughout the twentieth century which can appear contradictory, (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001) believes study is a modern obsession, however, leadership is not a new subject.

There has been extensive debate whether leaders are born or made. Early research such as the Great Man approach focussed on distinguishing personal traits of leaders e.g. personality. This theory was the idea that certain individuals were born with traits that make them natural leaders, supporting the theory “leaders are born”. Stogdill’s (1948; 1974, cited by Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001) listed factors common to the numerous studies he examined; a strong drive for responsibility, self-confidence, willingness to tolerate frustration and delay, and an ability to influence the behaviour of others. Many other lists of traits exist, representing one of the critical flaws of the concept, each study identifies a similar but differing set of essential characteristics which I find as a leader or manager confusing, if there are a set of traits that are fundamental and common to all great leaders then should we not be able to agree on what they are and have one set of traits rather than so many to compare.

Stogdill discovered several traits that appeared consistent with effective leadership suggesting innate leadership characteristics. However, it also highlighted that the importance of a particular trait was relative to the situation, possessing certain personal characteristics is no guarantee of success. Current leadership research is dominated by studies of transformational and transactional leadership (Burns, 1978). In contrast to earlier research, transformational leadership theories emphasise the role of interpersonal relationships and interactions in effective leadership whereas transactional leadership is concerned with rewards and management by exception, transactional leadership is concerned with transforming the values and priorities of followers, motivating them to perform beyond their expectations to achieve a higher collective purpose (Yukl, 1998).

Bass (1985) suggests that transformational leadership is likely to result in growth, independence and empowerment of followers, all of which suggest effective leadership. Researchers have suggested that transformational leadership behaviour comprises of four elements; inspirational motivation, idealised influence, individualised consideration and intellectual stimulation. The first two components represent charisma. Bass suggests that “charisma is a necessary ingredient of transformational leadership” (Bass, 1985, page 31. Chapter 3, page 75). This is similar to the charismatic leadership theory (Conger and Kanungo, 1998) and emphasises personal identification as a central mechanism through which leaders can influence. This highlights the need for leaders to be able to communicate, form relationships, show understanding and empathy and earn the trust of their employees.

This is to me questionable as to whether these type of leaders are born with such qualities as it would seem more likely they acquire these attributes through personal experiences and different situations. Comparing the two leadership styles, they both appear to have differences and similarities, in the skills and attributes exhibited by their leaders. Transactional leaders control their followers by appealing to their physical and social needs, and “concentrate on method, technique and mechanisms” (Burns, 1978). Transactional leaders seek to satisfy the employees higher order needs, transform followers’ into collective concerns, “engage the full person of the follower” (Burns, 1978).

These two approaches show clear differences, however it is likely that they share fundamental leadership qualities. In my opinion it appears that the transactional approach derives more greatly from the proposed innate leadership qualities such as intelligence, which will enable the leader to become highly educated and adapt in method and technique. In comparison, transformational leadership appears to focus more greatly on interpersonal qualities such as empathy and personal identification. Although these qualities may be a result of a person being “born” with them, to me it is more likely that leaders acquire these through personal life experiences, mentors, etc. In my opinion this suggests to me that although leaders may be both “born” with genetic predispositions that give them the potential to become effective leaders (intelligence, personality), education and life experiences also play an influential part in the development.

Although I believe the trait approach has several strengths as it has a century of research to back it up with and clearly fits with the idea of leaders are, individuals who are out front and leading the way in our society and gives us benchmarks as to what we need to look for if we want to be leaders, it also has several weaknesses, it cannot give you a list of leadership traits even though there have been years of research and study involved, they are sometimes unclear and ambiguous. The trait approach also fails to take special situations into account. People who possess certain traits that make them leaders in one situation may not be leaders in another situation.

Theories on traits can also be criticized for failing to look at traits in relationship to leadership outcomes. It has emphasised the identification of traits, but it has not addressed how leadership affected group members and their work and the training of these traits. The trait approach is not a useful approach for training and development for leadership either. Even if definitive traits could be identified, teaching new traits is not an easy process because traits are not easily changed, it would not be reasonable to send managers to a training program to raise their IQ. The point is that traits are relatively fixed and inside feelings, and this limits the value of teaching. Despite this, trait theory continues to be used, and has recently been reinvented as Emotional Intelligence (Goleman, 1996).

Goleman (2002) describes four components of emotional intelligence for use in the workplace, which he believes necessary to both manage and lead proactively; self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. The main difference in terms of focus, between this set of traits and the earlier list such as Stogdill’s, is that Goleman believes modern leaders require superior interpersonal skills than suggested by his predecessors. Changes in society, particularly over the final quarter of the twentieth century, have resulted in higher levels of education and awareness amongst the workforce. Businesses are dependent upon knowledge workers, who are aware of their value within organisations, (The four building blocks) and subsequently refuse to be motivated by force.

Goleman argues that alternative methods of motivation must be adopted. Goleman says: For ages, people have debated if leaders are born or made. So too goes the debate about emotional intelligence. Are people born with certain levels of empathy, for example, or do they acquire empathy as a result of life’s experiences? The answer is both (Goleman, 1998 page 97). Goleman justifies emotional intelligence through evidence. Although his interpretation of events and the factors surrounding them may be accurate in the examples he quotes, readers may be able to point to occasions when events transpired in a contradictory manner. So why do we have so much research and theories to find the perfect leader? Perhaps during the era of their observation a set of traits may represent an accurate depiction of the leadership style.

However, as leadership styles adapt to reflect the changing nature of society the list of traits fails to keep pace. Each member of an organisation is also a member of society, therefore, any changes affecting society, will in turn impact upon organisations. As society changes, so too will the characteristics that people require of their leaders, thereby meaning, that any list of traits will remain accurate for a limited period of time. This lifespan may vary in length, certain traits may remain popular for longer and others may return to popularity after a period of irrelevance. Trait theories provide merely snapshots of the observable traits of successful leadership in a particular situation, for a particular period of time. Essentially the constantly changing nature of society requires that effective leadership should be dynamic, thereby precluding the existence of an enduring description of successful leadership traits.


Throughout this assignment the author described different leadership styles and traits using course materials and wider reading as reference. Each theory and style appears to have a direct impact on the working atmosphere of a company, team, performance, etc. But I began to lose sight of what leadership was all about when I began researching different leadership styles and successful leadership traits. I do understand why there are so many different styles, as I believe that no one style fits all situations.

I believe it helps to have an understanding of the pros and cons of each style as this will allow me to adapt my approach to the situation, but at the same time, there are so many different theories to compare, it can be very overwhelming for the reader. I did find the different theories interesting as it did give me an insight about myself and the staff I interact with. I believe most effective managers and leaders vary their styles depending on the task, employee’s skills, time constraints, knowledge and other factors, by using different styles encourage employees and inspire them to do their best.

Bennis, W. (2009) On Becoming a Leader, New York, Basic Books. Bass, B.M. (1985) Leadership and Performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press. Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership, New York, Harper and Row.

Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership, New York: Harper & Row
Conger, J.A. and Kanungo, R.N. (1998) Charismatic Leadership in Organisations. Fayol, H. (1949) General and Industrial Management (translated by Constance Starrs), London, Sir Issac Pitman & Sons Ltd. Goleman, D. (1996) Emotional Intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ. London, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. Goleman, D. (1998). What makes a leader?
Harvard Business Review 76 Henderson, J. and Atkinson, D. (2003). Managing Care in Context. Huczynsk, A. and D. Buchanan (2001). Organisational Behaviour: An introductory text. Harlow, Pearson Education Limited. Kotter, J. P. (1990) A Force for Change: How leadership differs from management, New York, The Free Press Kotter, J. P.(2001) “What Leaders Really Do”. Harvard Business Review. Page 4. Kotter, J.P. (1988) “The Leadership Factor”. New York: Free Press Larkin, E. (2008) “Ready to Lead? Prepare to think and act like a successful leader”, Harlow, Pearson Education Limited. MacKian, S. and Simons, J: Leading managing caring: Understanding Leadership and Management in Health and Social Care. Pascale, R. (1990) “Managing on the Edge”, p65

Stogdill, R.M. (1974) Handbook of Leadership: A survey of theory and research, New York, Free Press Stratham, D. (1996). The Future of Social and Personal Care: The Role of Social Services Organisations in the Public, Private and Voluntary Sectors. Yukl, G.A. (1998) Leadership in Organisations.

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