Examples Of Some Best Leaders And Managers Commerce Essay

Leadership and management are one of the most discussed topics in business corporates and organizations. It is highly unlikely to switch on any media (radio, internet, etc.) and not run into a number of topics that do not link back to leaders and managers. By definition, the two systems are not the same; however, they need to be utilized complementarily to achieve one common goal and any effort to separate the two will cause more problematic issues than it will solve. In attempt to point out the difference, this report will address different areas of both leadership and management, such as; different characteristics of a leader, theories of leadership, management and its skills, and some examples of effective managers.

There may be some intersections, but the essential difference between the two systems is that leaders are born and managers are made. Though leadership comes as a natural talent this is not enough to make a fully qualified leader as there must be a constant improvement at every step of their career by investing tons of efforts and energy into their work to truly accomplish the definitions of leadership qualities. On the other hand, in a nutshell managers are problem solvers depending on the reasonableness and control and they administer what has been innovated by leaders.

Leadership and Management

It has become quite a common practice to differentiate between leadership and management. The most significant part off all these differentiations is that they are all orientated towards change. This idea is well outlined by John Kotter in his book who came to a conclusion that “management is about coping with complexity” whilst “leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change” (John Kotter, 1990, p104). He stated that good management brings about a degree of order and consistency to organizational processes and goals, whilst leadership is required for rapid change.

The differentiation of leadership from management as outlined by Kotter evidently inspires a change in emphasis from the moderately inflexible, administrative processes characterized as ‘management’ to the more rapid and strategic processes categorized as ‘leadership’, yet even he concludes that both are of equal importance for the effective running of an organization:, “Leadership is different from management, but not for the reason most people think. Leadership isn’t mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having charisma or other exotic personality traits. It’s not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it: rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment.” (Kotter, 1990, p103).

Even though there are a quite number of business writers such as John Kotter and his contemporaries who argue that there is a difference between leadership and management, however, these arguments cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt, especially when we put practice into consideration, therefore some people doubt as to whether they are really quite as separate as this in practice. Firstly, there has been an increment in the rejection to the way in which studies tend to disparage management as a system that is tedious and uninspiring. Gosling and Murphy (2004) propose that upholding a sense of steadiness during times of rapid change is a key to successful leadership. Thus the leader must safeguard that systems and structures remain in place whose purpose is to give workers a sense of security and a sense of balance, without which it would be hard to maintain levels of motivation, commitment, trust and psychological wellbeing.

Secondly, research has shown that the two systems are far from being separate thus the practices labeled as management and leadership are an essential fragment of the same task. From the exhaustive interpretations of what managers really do, Mintzberg (1973, 1975) identified 10 key roles, and among the roles leadership is one of them. He further came to a conclusion that far from being separate and different from management, leadership is just one dimension of a multidimensional management role. The most difficult thing and which causes confusion that are derived from comparing leadership and management is the method in which they are often charted to different individuals. Therefore, we often refer to ‘managers’ and ‘leaders’ as if they were different and incompatible people – we look at leaders as individuals who respond to rapid changes quite easily thus dynamic, charismatic individuals with the capacity to inspire others, whilst managers are seen as administrators who just focus on the current task. Such an interpretation, however, does not concur well with an individual who is experienced as a manager. People are generally employed into management, instead of leadership positions, and are expected to complete a pile of tasks extending from everyday planning and implementation, to longer-term strategic planning. None of these are done in isolation, and throughout, it is essential to work alongside other people – to motivate and inspire them, but also to know when to relinquish the lead and take a back seat. “Most of us have become so enamored of ‘leadership’ that ‘management’ has been pushed into the background. Nobody aspires to being a good manager anymore; everybody wants to be a great leader. But the separation of management from leadership is dangerous. Just as management without leadership encourages an uninspired style, which deadens activities, leadership without management encourages a disconnected style, which promotes hubris. And we all know the destructive power of hubris in organizations.” (Gosling and Mintzberg, 2003).

Leadership Theories

Even though individuals who are practically involved hands-on within the leadership field, they see practice being different from theories, but they are inseparably related. Traditional leadership theories were more fixated on what qualities differentiate between leaders and followers, while contemporary theories looked at other variables such as situational factors and skill levels. Both of these types of theories of leadership have an impact the current practice, education and policy and offer a useful guideline for the selection and development of leaders – in other words: theories are too good to be practical.

I will discuss some of the most prominent leadership theories, which offer a valuable context for the consideration of wider issues about defining leadership capabilities and development approaches.

Leadership Traits

For a long time it was presumed that it would be feasible to recognize and separate a limited set of traits, which can then be used to employ individuals in the positions of leadership. These qualities include but not limited to; -strong drive for responsibility, -focus on completing the task, -vigor and persistence in pursuit of goals, -originality in problem-solving, -drive to exercise initiative in social settings, -self-confidence, -sense of personal identity, -willingness to accept consequences of decisions and actions, -readiness to adsorb interpersonal stress, -willingness to tolerate frustration and delay, -ability to influence the behavior of others, and -capacity to structure social systems to the purpose in hand. This method was strongly based on the ‘great man’ theory that concentrated on how many records occupy and maintained positions where they have the capacity to influence. The hypothesis was that these individuals were born to be leaders and would grow by quality of their personality alone. Ralph Stogdill (1974) carried out a study to extensively revise the traits, and concluded that some qualities appeared more often than others. Other studies were carried out as well (e.g. Bird, 1940; Stewart, 1963) but did not identify the same set of traits. Since then the list has been growing, therefore it is now widely accepted that no such decisive set of traits will ever be identified.

Leadership styles and behavior

An approach which is an alternative to the traits approach was to look at what leaders actually do instead of just looking at their fundamental characteristics. Attention in this approach came about by the work of Douglas McGregor (1960), who suggested that leadership and management style is affected by the each individual’s views about human nature. He briefly contrasted two theories of managers which he called Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X managers fairly look at human nature negatively, thus trusting that the average employee has an in-born dislike of and will not do the job at hand if it is possible. Managers who perceive in this view believe that employees need to be closely supervised and controlled to make sure that tasks are successfully completed. Theory Y managers assumes employees may be striving and self-motivated and exercise self-control. Expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest, and that the average human being, under proper conditions, learns not only to accept but to seek responsibility. Such leaders will endeavor to enhance their employees’ capacity to exercise a high level of imagination, cleverness, and creativity in the answer to organizational problems. It can be understood that leaders holding diverse assumptions will show different methods to leadership: Theory X leaders preferring an autocratic style and Theory Y leaders preferring a participative style.

Contingency Theories

These theories concentrates on particular factors associated to a specific environment that might govern which particular leadership style will most suitably be fit for a particular situation. The theory states that there is no one leadership style that is suitable in all situations, thus making success to be dependent on a number of factors including the style of leadership chosen, qualities of the followers and features that defines that particular situation.

Situational Theories

At the same time as behavioral theories presented the idea of different leadership styles, they provided little direction as to what is needed for effective leadership behaviors in diverse situations. Researchers have proven that there is no one leadership style is best suited for every manager under all situations. Therefore, the concept of situational theories was developed to give direction that the style to be used is dependent upon such environmental variables factor. Fiedler (1964, 1967) suggested that there is no single best way to lead; instead the leaders’ style should be selected according to the situation. He differentiated between managers who are task or relationship oriented. Task oriented managers concentrate on the task at hand have a tendency to do better in situations that have good leader-member relationships, organized tasks, and either weak or strong position power. Such leaders have a tendency to show a more indicative leadership style. Managers who are relationship oriented do better in all other situations and show a more participative style of leadership.

Transformational Leadership

This concept of ‘transforming leadership’ was first developed by James MacGregor Burns. According to him, transforming leadership is a process by which leaders and followers help each other elevate to higher morality and motivation (Burns, 1978). At the center point of this concept is the importance of the leaders’ ability to motivate and empower his/her followers and also the moral dimension of leadership. Burn’s notions were then developed into the idea of ‘transformational leadership’ where the leader transforms followers: “The goal of transformational leadership is to ‘transform’ people and organizations in a literal sense – to change them in mind and heart; enlarge vision, insight, and understanding; clarify purposes; make behavior congruent with beliefs, principles, or values; and bring about changes that are permanent, self-perpetuating, and momentum building”. (Bass and Avolio, 1994).

In closing, leadership styles depend on the situation of the business or organization, there is no single style that is suitable. Also, blending leadership with team building, a leader can create an ideal team thus team members may become more involved and ask questions like; who does this? Who did that? How am I helping to achieve a common goal?

Characteristics of a Leader

Every individual is inspired or motivated in a different way; it is for this reason that being a leader will require a cautious combination of different leadership characteristics and skills. Personality traits and characteristics will determine the kind of leader one is. These characteristics that make up a leader are vast and they are all influenced by the followers, meaning depending on who he/she is leading, a leader will have different characteristics; ranging from being self-confident to being initiative.

The United States Marine Corps teaches more than ten leadership traits, such as being dependable and enthusiastic. Below is a full list that is taught by the US Marine Corps:















Retired General Colin Powell believes a good leader has the quality to make decisions that everyone can understand. In his own words, lesson number 14 teaches that “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand”. Effective leaders understand the KISS principle, Keep It Simple, Stupid. They articulate vivid, over-arching goals and values, which they use to drive daily behaviors and choices among competing alternatives. Their visions and priorities are lean and compelling, not cluttered and buzzword-laden. Their decisions are crisp and clear, not tentative and ambiguous. They convey an unwavering firmness and consistency in their actions, aligned with the picture of the future they paint. The result: clarity of purpose, credibility of leadership, and integrity in organization.

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, marks another great leadership quote and amongst those quotes is “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” In the following paragraphs I am going to bold some of the key skills a leader is required to have.

Emotional Intelligence is another concept that serves as a quality a leader should possess and was introduced by Daniel Goleman. It’s the ability to perceive, control and then evaluate emotions (Daniel Gloeman, 1998). The people who have researched about emotional intelligence say that it can be learnt and some say that it can be produced also. In 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer defined emotional intelligence as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. There are four branches of emotional intelligence: Perceiving Emotions, Reasoning with emotions, Understanding Emotions, and Managing Emotions.

According to Nitin Nohria, a professor at Harvard Business School, communication is really what a leader does most of the time. He proposes that great leaders follow or should follow oratory communication fundamentals. He believes that a leader can communicate any type of message no matter how complex it is. Aristotle said that people can be reached in by means of different methods; people can be treated in a way that it will charm their emotions and we can make arguments on their sense of value but the great leaders spend a lot of their time communicating. According to Joe Badaracco, another professor at HBS, Simplicity is very essential at every step of communication, that no matter how complex the message, a great leader can convey a message as simple as possible and in fewer words. Communication can however be more efficiently and effectively be conveyed if the correspondent knows the audience. Great leaders always understand the worth and position of their audience. They know their audience well and in this way they can communicate with their audience in a far better way. He further states that being a good communicator is not enough to be a good leader; since it will be a two way communication the leader must also be a good listener to avoid misinterpretation from the audience. Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon.com says that one of the key elements of being a good leader is the ability to tell the hard truths and realities. All these examples come under better communication.

As I have mentioned before, organizations are rapidly changing, thus making them dynamic. Great leaders are those who can manage and cope with these organizational rapid changes and all its employees or members. They know and comprehend the value of change and accept the common vision of desired results. Empowerment is also important in managing the change process. Managing the change successfully makes ordinary humans the great and effective leaders. ”People often resist change for reasons that make good sense to them, even if those reasons don’t correspond to organizational goals. So it is crucial to recognize, reward, and celebrate accomplishments.” (Kanter).

In this current age, technology is one of the things travelling on the fast lane. It is reported that a technological of most things such as information systems evolve every six months. It is for this reason that a great leader must keep him informed and aware of such evolutions. Knowledge is the key to success and they key element of effective leadership. Great and effective leader must have knowledge about everything that he is interacting with. Joe Badaracco says that in the previous days, the leaders had to rely on their subordinates for collecting and implementing the knowledge but now a days, the leaders must be good enough in knowledge so that they can cope with different situations well. Another consequence of fast changing technology is that managers are required to be creative. Creativity is becoming one of the key elements and quality of a great and effective leader. This is one quality that can distinct a leader from a great and effective leader.

Examples of some best leaders and managers

It is not easy to find a great leader, especially when the organization plays great game of blaming each other on anything that goes wrong within itself. Few companies have good, solid leadership from people who are willing to stick to their word. Glen Stansberry a writer, in his online article he has identified the following 5 of 10 leaders considered to be good examples in our society.

James Parker – Southwest Airlines

Southwest is recognized for their great customer service in an industry considered to be bad at customer service. Southwest stands out from other airlines by putting the customer first, regardless of the situation at hand. After 9/11 terrorist attack, airlines were not operational for number of days. As a result, all airline passengers, flight attendants and pilots were stuck with the planes across the country unable to travel to their destinations. Instead of merely sitting and waiting, Southwest employees were encouraged to take passengers bowling or to the movies to pass the time. Also, other airlines were retrenching their employees by 20%, but James Parker decided to keep all the employees and even announced a profit sharing payment of US$179.8 million.

Jim Lentz – Toyota

In the year 2009, circa Toyota’s 2.3 million vehicles were recalled for faulty brakes. Outrage ran rampant across the media and public. Instead of letting a Public Relations team deal with the problem with only press statements and interviews, Toyota offered a live conversation on one of the most aggressive and popular communities on the web known as Digg. They were all caught by a surprise when the Toyota CEO Jim Lentz appeared on Digg Dialog to be questioned all sorts of queries about the company and the recall. Over a thousand hard questions were submitted from consumers and even past employees, and Mr Lentz answered as many as possible in the given time. The questions were asked in order of votes, and none were filtered therefore making it a totally transparent interview. Even though the number of recalled vehicles skyrocketed, Toyota’s honesty and transparency will help with lessening the damage to the company’s reputation.

Glenn Kelman – Redfin

Redfin is an online real estate brokerage firm that gives back two-thirds of the commission that traditional agents charge. Real estate agents hated it, and started blacklisting anyone who used the service. So, instead of keeping the problem quiet, Kelman started a company blog that focused on many of the awful aspects of the real estate business. He also posted about internal struggles within the company, and even criticized himself on many occasions. The blog was raw and authentic. Customers loved the transparency. They appreciated the fact that a CEO could make fun of himself and the dirty parts of his industry. Since starting the Redfin blog in 2006, business has grown dramatically. (Glen Stansberry, 2010).

Costco – Jim Sinegal

Costco net worth value is ranked at U$2 billion, but the CEO Jim Sinegal only gets US$350,000.00 per annum. In general, most employees tend to get de-motivated by the fact that their bosses earn a lot of money and do not really care about them. It even gets worse when an employee does not see the head of the company. In Jim’s case, he has a simple office, on the same floor with his employees and without any walls and decorations, and answers his own telephone. His employee turnover rate is the lowest in the retail industry, over five times less than rival Wal-Mart. In an age where CEOs are paid in the millions and would never be seen in the “trenches,” Jim Sinegal is an anomaly. And his workers love him for it.

Howard Schultz – Starbucks

Starbucks is known for its exceptional treatment of employees, offering things like insurance to even part-time workers. In 1997 three employees were killed in a bumbled robbery of one of their Washington D.C. stores. Instead of issuing a press release or calling legal counsel, CEO Howard Schultz flew straight to D.C. and spent the entire week with the employees and their families in the area. Schultz’s compassion and incredible leadership helped heal those closest to the tragedy.


Regardless of the extensive research about the importance of management and leadership in terms of individuals, organizational performance, and national performance there is still a lack of realistic evidence. According to the economic analyses, even though management and leadership are the integral part in influencing national competitiveness, their influence is just another factor of many others. Strictly at organizational levels, it may seem like leadership and management are the only factors that have a direct influence on results, however they are just part of Human Resource Management activities. The influence of Management and Leadership development (MLD) at an individual level, it seems to be affected by the type of intervention and the wish and the chance of individuals to take on leadership responsibilities. These however may not reflect positively on the influences of management and leadership with regard to performance.

This report may show how important it is to consider leadership in the broader context of any organization. Separately, there is no assurance that leadership development will improve the individuals’ performance, however, if we look at leadership development as the main thing within and organization and human resource management (HRM) processes its influence becomes obvious. Similarly, the availability of effective leadership and management processes inside an organization raises the probability of additional training and development becoming a success.

Regardless of the lack of conclusive evidence indicating the relationship between management, leadership and performance it has been widely accepted that this are the key elements of effective performance of groups, individuals, organizations, etc. The fact that this relationship cannot be linearly measured indicates that there is a need for more research to be done. The way in which enhanced management and leadership leads to improved performance is complex and thus when looking at the benefits that are raised from the interventions a much wider idea of performance needs to included instead of just looking at improved productivity/profit.

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