Leadership Comparing Characteristics of Leaders and Managers Essay

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Comparing Characteristics of Leaders and Managers

The term leader and manager is often used in an interchangeable manner and it is likely that at some point most leaders have undertaken a management role. However, when looking at leaders and managers there are some distinct differences. These can be considered in terms of their characteristics and the way these characteristics manifest. A common theme in much literature is the way in which leaders may be identified as they have followers and inspire others

This refers to the concept of leaders having charisma. In this context there are many examples of leaders both good and bad. Leaders which fit in with this context include, John F. Kennedy former U.S. President, Nelson Mandela the South African leader, Richard Branson founder of the Virgin empire and Howard Schultz the CEO and inspiration behind Starbucks. These are all examples of charismatic leaders

. They have been able to inspire and gain support, but the subject of leadership is not limited to only those who have used the power they gain for positive ends. Other examples of charismatic leaders include Adolf Hitler whose political regime lead to the deaths of millions in Nazi Germany, David Koresh who was leader of the Branch Dividians well-known for the Waco siege and Charles Manson, who was the leader of the Mason family were also charismatic leaders. These leaders may be compared and contrasted, as despite their classifications of being charismatic leaders indicating commonalities, they have some obvious differences. In their role they are more than managers, but this variety of leaders indicate even the way leadership characteristics may vary. To assess the different characteristics between leaders and managers the paper will start by looking at the different characteristics of leaders with particular attention to the role played by charisma and then compare the characteristics of managers with those seen in different types of leader.

When examining the concept of leadership and how it may be defined and described has been the subject on a great deal of study. One of the earliest approaches which dates back to the nineteenth century looks at great leaders in order to asses their commonalities
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. This was referred to as 'Great Man Theory'

. The approach looked at great mean such as Alexander the Great and later Winston Churchill, this is still an approach that is seen today, with theorists such as Mintzberg looking at the way these leaders would lead and manage their followers, inspiring trust. However, while anecdotal evidence produced was interesting, it did not create useful theories as the leaders, many of whom were charismatic, were found to have different personality types

Trait theory was the next development in leadership theory, which looked at the traits of leaders

. Traits may be defined as a distinguishing quality or characteristic of a particular person

. Charisma may be seen as a trait and it is a feature in the way Drucker looks at leadership. Drucker looks at personality looking at what makes leaders as well as what differentiates them from managers

. The view of Drucker is that leader will have followers and will set examples. This not only refers to the way they different from mangers, who take a more passive approach, but refers to the way charisma may manifest. In this context the good and bad leaders at the beginning of this paper all comply with this approach; they all have inspired followers. The political leaders Kennedy and Mandela were able to gain and retain public support, in the case of Kennedy this was despite the controversial womanizing behavior; the charismatic leadership overcame the challenges. Ironically, it may be argued that in the case of the bad leaders; Hitler and Koresh in particular, they were able to exert charismatic leadership to the extent that it was able to influence people in a manner that was detrimental for themselves or others, and in many cases overrode their personal values.

Drucker does not see leaders just in terms of this trait, he also looks at other characteristics he sees necessary in leadership, these include the need for vision, to be self-reliant and to subject oneself to a mirror test to review ones own performance

. Once again, many of these aspects may be applied to the charismatic leaders. The issue of values is obviously different,…

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