Portrayal of a leader in companies


A leader is portrayed as someone who has visions and establishes new innovations and shows the manager as being someone who monitors progress towards objectives to achieve order and reliability. John Kotter (1990) explained how the functions of a leader and a manager are different. The leader establishes vision and direction, influences others to sign up to that vision, motivates and inspires them to overcome obstacles, and produces positive and sometimes radical chance (Huczynski and Buchanan 2001 pg. 703). The manager on the other hand deals with plans and budgets. The manager is in charge of the designs of the organisation and also staffing that organisation, the manager also monitors and controls performance. (Huczynski and Buchanan 2001).

Leadership and management are topics have been written about, researched and discussed probably more than any other topic (Luthans 2001). However regardless of this, the topic is still hard to explain. Leadership is known to exist and have a tremendous influence on human performance, but its inner workings and specific dimensions cannot be precisely spelled out (Luthans 2001, pg 575). Many different definitions of leadership exist as people who write about it usually define it differently. A leader is someone who exercises influence over other people. This working definition renders most managers leaders. But managers do not automatically become leaders. The ability to influence also needs the permission of those to be influenced (Huczynski and Buchanan 2001). There are many functions of a leader, some of them include enabling people to achieve their objectives, monitoring performance and giving feedback, establishing basic values, organising recourses, solving problems and making decisions on behalf of others.

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There are a number of concepts and theories which are recognised as reflecting what a leader is, in addition to these there are also many studies that are important in leadership. The three most important studies are the Lowa, Ohiostate and Michigan studies (Luthans 2001).

Firstly leadership is thought of as a trait which implies that every individual brings certain qualities which influence the way he or she leads. For example some leaders may be confident and others may be decisive. This idea of leadership being a trait puts alot of emphasis on the leader and their special gifts, and follows the belief that leaders are born not made . This theory which has previously be known as the great person theory of leadership suggests that leaders are thought to be born and not made and so implies that some people were born with certain traits which allow them to lead. The theory focuses on identifying the personality traits of the leader and so suggests that only some people with special talents will lead. Because of this idea, this theory is weak in that it does not provide any help as to what advice or training should be given to current of future leaders. Also if particular traits are associated with leadership, it makes it difficult to explain why some people who have these trait are not leaders.

Leadership can also be seen as an ability. This approach suggests that someone who has leadership ability is able to lead. An ability is often referred to as a natural capacity, however it is possible to be learnt. For example certain people are good at specking out in public whereas others may find the need to practice it in order to become comfortable with it. Some people have the natural ability to lead, while others develop their leadership abilities through hard work and practice.

Thirdly leadership is a skill; this suggests that leadership is a competency developed to complete a task effectively. Skilled leaders know how to carry out their responsibilities; they know what they need to do and how they need to do it. Being a skill makes leadership available to everyone because skills can be learnt or developed.

Leadership is also behaviour. This approach focuses on what leaders actually do rather than their traits or the characteristics. In the 1940s and 1950s researchers at Ohio state university looked into this approach, they wanted to identify what effective leaders do, and the behaviours that make up their effectiveness. Their findings were that one of the key ways leaders influence followers is through the behaviours that they perform. This view is about the way leaders act towards others in various situations. The behaviours of leaders are observable; when people lead we see their leadership behaviour. Research into leadership has shown that leaders tend to rely on two types of general behaviour. The first type is task behaviours which are used to get the task done, the second is process behaviours which are used to make people feel comfortable with their group members in situations they may find themselves in.

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Leadership can also be thought of as a relationship. This view is about the communication between leaders and followers rather than just the leader and their qualities. A leader affects their followers as well as being affected by followers; also both leaders and followers are affected by the situation. With this approach leadership is not just a one way process. In traditional leadership the authority is at the top, however with this view authority and influence are shared. Thinking of leadership as a relationship suggests that followers and their interests should be included in the process of leadership, and that leaders need to work with followers to achieve their mutual purposes (Northhouse 2009).

There is also a Contingency Theory of leadership. This theory concentrates on particular variables which might determine which particular style of leadership suits the situation best. With this theory, there is no one type of leadership style which is perfect for all situations. Success depends on a number of variables which include the leadership style, qualities of the followers, and aspects of the situation. This is similar to the behavioural theory which assumes that there is not just one way of leading.

Finally there is the Situational theory of leadership. This theory suggests that leaders choose the best action based on the situation. According to this theory different styles of leadership are appropriate for certain types of decision making. For example when a decision needs to be made an effective leader will not only use a single preferred style, instead they decide what is best for the situation. Factors which may have an effect on situational decisions include motivation and capability of followers.

There are also many different leadership styles which can be classified within 3 simplified headings. The authoritarian style is where the power is with the manager. All decision making is exercised by the manager alone and so is all other authority such as determining policy, procedures for achieving goals, work tasks and relationships and control for rewards or punishments. The democratic style is however where the power is more with the group as a whole and there is much more interaction within the group. The functions of leadership are shared within the group and the manager is more involved as part of the team. The group members also have more of a say in the decision making, determining of policy, and implementation of system and procedures. A laissez faire style however is where the manager s role is to observe the members of the group to see whether they are getting on well on their own. The team have more freedom to do what they think is best, the manager does not interfere but is however available if their help is needed. The manager allows members of the group to get on with the work they need to get done. (Mullins 2008).

My idea of a good leader would be someone like Richard Branson. He believes that it is only possible to lead if generally like people because that is the only way to bring out the best in them. Having a personality of caring about people is important, says Branson. (Richard Branson, evancarmichael.com)

His style of management is sometimes criticised by some people. He does not regularly hold board meetings and does not have any business headquarters; furthermore, academically he is not that much of a high achiever. However with his brand name licensed to over 250 companies, Richard Branson has managed to develop the skills he requires to lead. This supports the theory that leadership is a skill and also the idea of leadership being behaviour, as it seems that Branson was not born with leadership qualities which is what the trait theory assumes, instead he had worked hard to develop the skills he requires to carry out his responsibilities. I find him to be a good leader as he is aware of what he needs to do and how he is going to do it. Richard Branson as a leader also supports the leadership is also behaviour idea which focuses on what leaders actually do rather than the traits or the characteristics of leaders, and with Branson it is what he does and how he acts towards others in various situations he which makes him a good leader. I ve had to create companies that I believe in 100%. These are companies I feel will make a genuine difference, says Branson. Then I have to be willing to find the time myself to talk about them, promote them and market them. I don t want to spend my life doing something that I m not proud of. (Richard Branson, evancarmichael.com). What else makes Branson a good leader is he knows how to motivate his staff, he hires bright people and gives them a stake in his ventures; this then motivates them to be even more successful. For Branson, relating to other people is one of the most important factors of leadership. His approach is about being good with people, and genuinely caring about them. The companies that look after their people are the companies that do really well. I m sure we d like a few other attributes, but that would be the most important one. (Richard Branson, evancarmichael.com). I believe that what makes him such a successful leader is because he treats his employers with respect and this is crucial to the success of Branson s Virgin Empires. He believes that it is important to put employees first, after that customers, and then shareholders.

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A manager however is responsible for creating an environment in which employees can work well as a successful team. A team is only as good as its leader, but even if the leader is great, for the business to be profitable and productive, they should also have outstanding management skills (Howatt 2008 pg 37). The best managers are those who motivate employees, they may do this by focusing on creating a place where employees want to be. The key to building a workplace as such is by developing good relationships with all of the members of staff in the organisation. The main roles of managers include being a colleague, so that there is a relationship where both parties receive mutual benefit, being a role model, who is willing to provide information and knowledge to people, a mentor who supports and works for another person helping them to move into more of a personally satisfying role and finally a coach, who supports a group of people working at different speeds (Howatt 2008).

There has been a lot of research into the difference between management and leadership. It is important to identify whether they are different or just the same idea in different words. Managers usually have goals that they aim to achieve, and they are expected to do this by the appropriate use of recourses and their disposal (Rollinson and Broadfield 2002). People are important part of the manager s recourses and managers need to positively influence these people in order to achieve these objectives. Leaders on the other hand are said to be the ones with the vision, and who are able of getting the best performance from others. The manager s job is to organise, plan, and control activity however they are not able to get the best out of people. A leader is able to communicate with and motivate people, the manager however does not spend so much time recognising people through the work they do. Leadership is also more about listening to people as well as giving them support and encouragement and involving them in decision making and problem solving. Management on the other hand tells people what they need to do , how to do it, when and where to do it and then closely supervising their performance.

Leadership is about getting the best out of people. It is about communicating a vision, and persuading rather than compelling people. Management on the other hand, is about an affective performance within an institutional framework, which secures the obedience of a lot of people (Sir Christopher Hogg 1995 cited in Martins 2001 pg 677). The difference between leadership and management has been shown by Watson on the 7-S organisational framework. Watson has suggested that managers tend to rely more on strategy, structure and systems. Leaders have an inherent indination for utilisation of the soft Ss of style, staff, skills and superordinate goals (Mullins, 2008, pg 262).

Other differences between leaders and managers include differences in their attitudes towards goals, conceptions of work, relations with others, self perception and development. Managers tend to be more impersonal or passive attitudes towards goals, whereas leaders tend to use a more personal and active attitude towards goals. Also in their relationship with others managers are known to maintain a low level of emotional involvement whereas leaders show empathy towards others.

Despite all these differences, there is a close relationship between the two. There tends to be a lot of emphasis on the interrelationship between management and leadership. Increasingly management and leadership are being seen as inextricably linked. It is one thing for a leader to propound a grand vision but this is redundant unless the vision is managed so it becomes a achievement (Mullins 2008, pg 262)

In my opinion an example of a good manager is my manager at work. This is because he creates the environment which then allows us employees to work as a successful team. Our manager motivates us by providing us with a good workplace; this is partly by having a good relationship with all the employees in the workplace. We know that there is someone there for us, who is willing to provide any information that we may require.