Wednesday, October 1, 2008


AN AUTOCRATIC leader? Me? I’m being totally democratic”, Ms Nooyi bantered with a fellow juror, when he ribbed her after being chivvied back into the jury room from a phone break. - As reported in The Economic Times dated 29 September 2008.

There are various styles of leaders but basically there are three style of leaders – autocratic style which is also known as dictatorship style, democratic style which is also known as participative style and the third one is delegative style which is also known as free reign style. It is very difficult to justify a particular style of leadership is correct. It all depends on the situation and also on the nature of the leader. These days there is more focus on managerial leaders, which is the need of the hour in this century. But before we go into it let us know what differentiates between managers and leaders.

There is lot of confusion between managers and leaders. Layman does not know that there is a vast difference between managers and leaders. Even the experts on leadership fail to identify and differentiate between managers and leaders. Let us look at the basic differences between the leaders and managers.


“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. Peter F.Drucker.

Managers live in the present where as the leaders always stay ahead of time and think of future. The managers just execute the stipulated and given tasks and the leaders know the implications and complications involved and the fall out of executing such tasks. The managers often look for survival where as the leaders mostly look for success. The ability to look at big picture is the core philosophy of the leaders and the managers mostly focus on small and narrow picture.

Imagination is the key to leadership while knowledge is the key to management. Peter F Drucker rightly said, “A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge”. When the managers work hard and climb the ladder of organization, the leaders work smart and place the ladder on the right side of the wall. It is the leaders who envision ‘where to go’. On the hand, it is the managers who come out with possible and feasible plans for leaders by telling ‘how to go’. To put it succinctly the leaders are visionaries and managers are missionaries.

The leaders possess more of thinking skills and less of execution skills. The managers possess more of execution skills and less of thinking skills. If the managers are noted for pulling the rabbits out of a hat, the leaders are noted for pulling the habits out of rut. Managers follow the road and execute their plans and the leaders either follow the road less traveled or follow where there is no path and leave a mark behind thus becoming trailblazers.

Managers always deal with complexity while the leaders deal with uncertainty and there is always adrenalin running around. When the managers create policies it is the leaders who establishes principles and guidelines. The managers see what is visible but the leaders are capable of seeing the invisible by their imagination in spotting the opportunities. When managers look for similarities the leaders look for differences that leads to unconventional and out of the box thinking. When the managers look for application of the same successful solution to the given problems the leaders have the habit of looking for modified solutions with in the contemporary scenario to make it more meaningful and fruitful.

Managers can be compared with resources and which are limited. On the contrary, leaders can be compared with sources, as sources are unlimited. When we light a candle the flame of the candle can provide light to many numbers of candles. In this case, the flame of the light becomes the source where as the candle itself becomes the resource as it gets melted.

The managers are confined to administration and maintenance where as the leaders are extended to innovation and development. The role of managers is to more of focusing on systems and structure where as the leaders focus on precious human resources i.e. people. The managers are the generators while the leaders are the creators. When managers stick to status quo the leaders stick to status quo ante. The managers have the habit of asking how and when the tasks are to be executed while the leaders enquiring of what and why the tasks are to be executed. The managers are like loyal soldiers falling in middle and lower rung of hierarchy where as the leaders are at the top of the management giving instructions and orders. Mostly the managers motivate their staff to accomplish the organizational goals and objectives and on the contrary, the leaders inspire them.

The managers believe in quantity of work getting done and are more focused on efficiency. On the other hand the leaders believe in the quality of work executed and its effectiveness. Mangers often believe in letting the things happen but the leaders often believe in making the things happen. If managers believe in short term survival and success the leaders believe in long-term focus and viability. Often managers execute and leaders delegate. For leaders their focus is almost round the clock but for the managers their span is limited to the given roles and responsibilities. When leaders take risk it is the managers who manage the same through their knowledge.

To sum up the differences between the managers and the leaders, if the managers are the actors in any film the leaders are the directors. Any film or enterprise would be successful only when there is right combination of ingredients and elements.


Both managerial and leadership skills are complementary and there is no substitute in the present corporate world where competition is cut throat. Managerial Leadership fills the existing gaps and vacuum by developing strong management and leadership skills among the professionals so that they can face the challenges squarely with confidence and mettle in this high tech world. As a result, there is growing emphasis on managerial leadership which is combination of both managerial and leadership skills. Managerial leaders would lead the future business world. Therefore, there is huge potential for managerial leaders.

To conclude in the words of Warren Bennis, "Leaders walk their talk; in true leaders, there is no gap between the theories they espouse and their practice."


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