The purpose of this research is to compare, conceptually, leadership and management. In the past, scores of books and hundreds of articles have been written on leadership styles, style of management, motivation, and related topics. The general thrust of most of this writing has been that some form of participative management, or nonauthoritarian leadership as opposed to an authoritarian style, will result in improved organizational performance. Many American organizations, however, continue to successfully rely on authoritarian leadership practices.
Thus, after two decades or more of intensive theorizing as to the desirability of some form of participative or relational management and leadership, there still appears to be no incontrovertible proof that such styles of leadership or management will result in improved organizational performance. There appears to be a general agreement that the quality and style of leadership, the processes of implementing organizational change, the methods employed in resolving organizational conflicts, the level and quality of organizational communications, and the ability of individuals to participate, to some in decisions concerning them contribute to the quality of working life and, in turn, to the level of organizational performance. The disagreements are related to (1) how these factors work together, and (2) which manifestations of each are most appropriate for different organizational environments.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS OF
LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT
A generally accepted agreement on the definition of leadership has eluded theorists and practitioners alike for scores of years. As might be expected of any concept which has appeared to defy definition, there exists fairly widespread disagreement among the experts as to just what it involves. Peter Drucker said that leadership “is of the utmost importance. Indeed there no substitute for it. But leadership cannot be created or promoted. It cannot be taught or learned” (1955, p. 107). Thus, Drucker comes down on the side of art–the old saw that “leadership is an art, not a science; a science can be learned but an art cannot,” or the even older one that says that “leaders are born, not made.”
Bradford Boyd, while with the Management Institute at the University of Wisconsin, said that leadership is, simply, “getting people to work to achieve the goals of the enterprise. It’s giving people something to work for” (1968, p. 324). Boyd appears to come down on the side of leadership as a science; something that can be taught and learned. Sven Lundstedt expanded on Boyd’s definition, when he said that leadership “is the ability to influence the behavior of others in a group or organization, set up goals for a group, formulate paths to the goals, and create some social norms in the group” (1975, p. 164). This definition includes some aspects which are arguably learnable; however, the “ability to influence” and the creation of “social norms” could, arguably, fall in the realm of art, as opposed to science. James MacGregor Burns defined leadership as,
leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivation–the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations of both leaders and followers . . . Leadership, unlike naked power-wielding, is thus inseparable from followers needs and goals (1978, p. 110).
Burns’ definition is probably better than the others discussed above, however, he still does not fully address the question of whether leadership can be learned (although he certainly appears to lean in the direction of learning).
Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, Jr., in their bestseller, In Search of Excellence, offered a definition of leadership which they attributed to Henry Kissinger. The definition should be enough to scare away most who aspire to leadership. Leadership, it is said,
. . . is many things. It is patient . . . boring coalition building . . . the purposeful seeding of cabals that . . . will result in the appropriate ferment in the bowels of the organization . . . meticulously shifting the . . . institution through the mundane language of management systems . . . altering agendas so that new priorities get . . . attention . . . being visible when things are going awry, and invisible when they are working well . . . building a loyal team at the top that speaks
. . . with one voice . . . listening carefully . . . speaking with encouragement, and reinforcing words with . . . being tough when necessary . . . the occasional naked use of power–or the ‘subtle accumulation of nuances,’ a hundred things done a little better (1982, p. 107).
Regardless of the authorship of this definition of leadership, there is one point upon which there can be no argument: this definition thoroughly strips the concept of leadership of any semblance of art.
In actuality, leadership is likely a little bit of each of the definitions examined in the preceding discussion (and probably a little bit of some other definitions of the concept which were not considered. Leadership is, most probably, a little bit art, a little bit science, and, as is true with most aspects of human life, a whole lot of drudgery, frustration, and boredom. It may also be quite satisfying, when practiced effectively.
The style of leadership practiced by an individual is, in effect, the managerial behavior of that individual, and the style of leadership can have profound effects on the performance of the organization. Conversely, the organization, particularly its structure and its mission, may affect the leadership styles adopted by its leaders and managers.
In the first half of the 20th Century, the authoritarian, task-oriented manager was the prototype leader. Subordinates were told what to do and how to do it. No thought was given to telling a subordinate why a task was to be performed or why a particular method was preferable. Certainly, no thought was given to either consulting with or informing subordinates ahead of time concerning a decision or a proposed change which would affect them (Luthans, 1985, p. 337).
The concept of participative management appeared for the first time at the General Motors Corporation prior to World War II, when that firm was under the leadership of Alfred Sloan. The participative management style did not receive wide attention, however, until the 1950s, when Peter Drucker introduced the term management-by-objectives.
One characteristic of all forms of participative management is that organizational superiors consult with their subordinates concerning the development of performance objectives which are compatible with organizational goals. Thus, participative management, by its very nature, requires very different leadership styles from those associated with the authoritarian style.
Developments in participative management techniques have led to a greater emphasis on a relationships orientation for managers, as opposed to the more traditional task orientation. The most successful organizational leaders, however, are those who are able to combine task orientation and relationships orientation characteristics in an optimal manner consistent with the characteristics and goals of their organizations (Luthans, 1985, p. 340).
The key elements in leadership style are communications and decision-making. As a cause of organizational ineffective communications stands out. Effective communications, however, can result in the acceptance by subordinates of otherwise distasteful activities (Rhenman, Stromberg & Westerlund, 1980, p. 111).
The implementation of change in organizations, if the optimal effectiveness of the change is to be insured, must be accompanied by a complete explanation of both the nature and the purpose of the proposed change. This explanation must be provided to organizational subordinates by organizational leaders, if maximum effectiveness is to result. Where leaders provide such information through a consultative format, in which discussion is permitted or even encouraged, subordinates will likely feel freer (than they would in other types of settings) to present immediately any reservations or objections to the planned change. When such reservations or objections are presented immediately and in a somewhat casual atmosphere, they are much easier for the leader to effectively address.
Decision-making in organizations has been described by Fred Luthans (1985) as a process of behavior with the economic model (or total rationality) at one extreme and with the social model (or complete irrationality) at the other extreme (p. 442). This description implies that only irrational decision-making accords human values precedence over economic values. In the organizational environments of the mid-1980s, the leader must find some middle ground between these extremes, for it is evident that neither set of values can be ignored.
Leadership styles will vary between the extremes of task and relationships orientations, between authoritarian leadership and participative management, and between directive leadership and management-by-objectives. The leader who is completely task oriented will likely make decisions which are geared to “getting the job done,” regardless of the socio-psychological effect such decisions may have on the individual members of an organization Conversely, the leader who is completely relationships oriented will likely make decisions which, while they avoid organizational conflict development, will often immobilize the organization from an economic perspective.
The most successful leaders give consideration to both economic and social factors in decision-making. The balance between these two sets of values will vary between organizations and will vary within organizations over time. This balance depends upon the prevailing situation at any particular time.
APPLICATION OF LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES
Where successful leaders in any type of organization must work within a set of goals and objectives, the senior-level leader must expand these goals and objectives into a vision (MacKenzie, 1985, p. 117). This vision must represent an end state. The leader’s vision must encompass an understanding of exactly what he or she expects the organization to be at the end of the cycle in which it finds itself, or in which it is preparing to enter. If an organization is embarking on a new strategy, the leader must be able to visualize the situation which is desired upon completion of the strategy. Everything else in the organization is built around the leader’s vision.
The leader’s vision will, of course, provide her; or him with the knowledge required to develop the intermediate goals and objectives necessary to reach the ultimate objective. Of perhaps greater importance, however, is the fact that the leader’s vision will permit her or him to recognize the ultimate objective, when it is obtained (MacKenzie, 1986, p. 209).
A leader will, at times, be able to control, to some extent, the variables with which he or she is confronted. In the contemporary business environment, however, the leader will almost continually be required to function in an environment characterized by high levels of uncertainty. The leader must be prepared to deal with a fluid and an uncertain environment. Within this realm of uncertainty, however, the leader must be a beacon of consistency for his or her organizational subordinates.
The initial requirement for consistency is to always be oneself; never pretend to be something you are not. Leadership consistency also requires (1) an avoidance of ambiguous actions, (2) the admitting and correction of one’s own mistakes, (3) firmness and conviction with respect to one’s own decisions, (4) ethical behavior, (5) an acceptance of responsibility, and (6) a willingness to place trust in organizational subordinates (MacKenzie. 1985, p. 3-14). Consistency in leadership, however, does not imply rigidity (p. 241).
One’s approach to leadership varies, of course, with one’s own personality and areas of competence. Additionally, however, one’s approach to leadership will tend to vary according to organization, mission, and situation.
THE BASES AND USE OF POWER IN ORGANIZATIONS
Leaders and managers use power “to influence decisions concerning the allocation of resources which are critical to the subunit using the power and scarce within the organization” (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1974, March, pp. 453-473). Organizational subunits attempt to exert power over organizational decisions, where resources are involved which are (1) essential for the operation of the subunit, and (2) in short supply within the organization. Subunits will “acquire power in the organization to the extent they contribute critical resources . . . to the organization . . .” (pp. 453-473). Thus, those organizational subunits which will be able to influence the resource allocation decision making within an organization are those subunits which have the most to offer the organization in the context of resource contributions.
Seven conditions are required for participants in an organization to be able to exercise power with respect to resource allocations within the organizations. These conditions are as follows:
1. The possession by a participant of a resource required by the organization. Those leaders and managers most able to influence the resource decision making process are those whose departments are able to attract the most revenues to the company.
2. The participant’s discretionary control over the resource. The influential leaders and managers are those, who as a consequence of their expertise and prestige, can exercise some degree of discretionary control.
3. The importance of the resource to the organization. Revenue generation is one of the critical resources of a company.
4. The ability of the organization to obtain the resource from a third party. A leader or manager who controls the primary generator of revenues for a company is in the strongest position to influence organizational decision making.
5. The ability of the participant to make her, his, or its preferences for organizational action known to the organization. organizational communications facilitate the actions of leaders and managers in organizational environments.
6. The visibility of the organizational actions which a participant is attempting to control. The actions of leaders and managers who are highly visible are best able to influence the organizational decision-making process.
7. The organization’s discretionary control to take the action desired by the participant. The company must be capable of taking the actions recommended by leaders and managers.
It is a useless exercise to consider the differences between leaders and managers, because, within organizational environments, leadership and management will be exercised by the same individuals. There simply are no viable organizations with a separation of these two concepts. To attempt such a separation would be the utmost folly.
Lee Iacocca at the Chrysler Corporation is widely perceived to be a charismatic leader. The leader who rescued the company (with a little–$l.5 billion–help from his friends–the U.S. government). Lee Iacocca, of course, is a leader. Equally as important, however, he is a top-notch manager. He brought the vision of leadership to Chrysler. At the same time, however, he brought sound management to the company. The two ingredients arrived in the same package–as they always do.