Management has been highlighted as an authority relationship to maintain the status quo through coordinating and controlling subordinate activities. This is where scholars part ways. Once the status quo is mentioned, it appears that management is stagnant and overly consuming in nature. It is not, management and leadership are one and the same and, to be a good manager, a person has to also be a good leader. The following table summarizes some distinctions between leadership and management that have been posited by scholars over the past ten years or so by very prominent academics. The table indicates a dichotomy of management and leadership, but anyone can see that being both is much more important than being simply one or the other.
The table is important to show the highlights of leadership versus management, but there are times when everything on both sides of the table are important functions of managers. Furthermore, James MacGregor Burns concluded that “leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” Burton Nanus and Warren Bennis agreed with Burns in that there is “no clear and unequivocal understanding that exists as to what distinguishes leaders from non-leaders.” There is no comprehensive definition that encompasses all of the leadership aspects.
Although the current definitions of leadership and management are somewhat different, these idealized definitions provide various viewpoints about leadership that could positively contribute to define the concept of leadership. Let us now define this thing called leadership as influenced interactions with groups of followers to implement changes and achieve the determined goals. That definition sounds a lot like management and it should be because as mentioned earlier, leadership is a function of management. This controversy among academics has taken on new form. Scholars are experts in management and leadership but very few take pride in being scholars of both except for Fayol who would fall into the category of a management historian.
The key take-away for executives is that authentic leadership has increasingly become one of the most dominant paradigms today and will be used by many companies around the globe in the next five years. Let us look at authentic leaders and determine their competencies aimed at answering the question of how executives can become better at what they do by using the seven practices of authentic leadership. Seven practices have been determined for authentic leadership:
- Positive psychological capital;
- Positive moral perspective;
- Leadership process/behavior management;
- Follower development; and
- Organizational context.
It is important for executives to develop a positive work climate in which employees more effectively contribute to a company’s performance and competitive advantage. Executives must also have the desirable expertise about the authentic decision-making process, which identifies moral dilemmas, and then evaluates and selects the best available alternative to be implemented. Furthermore, executives need to understand that authentic leaders continually understand their own beliefs, strengths, desires, values and aspirations. These leaders can distinguish the processes and mechanisms whereby an authentic leader influences his/her followers. Authentic leaders can effectively influence their followers through taking various processes such as positive social exchange.
Executives should at least be aware of self-awareness and self-regulation by which authentic leaders effectively align their core values and individual interests with institutional interests and their practices. In fact, a strong alignment can be achieved in values and goals by using a transparent process between leaders and followers. Executives are already aware that an authentic leader takes a coaching role for transforming and developing people. Finally, it is important for executives to develop effective workplaces that promote the depth and range of knowledge access and sharing and provide equal opportunity for all employees at various levels of the company in order to actively respond to the constant changes occurring in external environment.
This article raises vital questions as to how executives can effectively lead companies with authenticity in today’s hypercompetitive business environment. Executives can now see that I expand upon the subject matter of an organization’s leadership. For scholars, this article can portray a more detailed picture of the authentic leadership within organizations that have been mentioned but not placed in a set of practices based on acting and doing in the past. Furthermore, I suggest that scholars take these ideas and continue to conduct research using executives as the focal point so that academic scholarship can meet the needs of managerial implications at the higher echelons of organizations worldwide.
Bennis, W & Nanus, B (1985), Leaders: The strategies for taking charge, Harper, New York.
Burns, JM (1978), Leadership, Harper & Row, New York.
Mostafa Sayyadi is a Senior Management Consultant and Former Leadership Team Member of San Diego-based The Change Leader Consulting Inc. He is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a Book Author and Business and Technology Journalist.