Management and Leadership

Management and leadership are often seen as different skills. Mintzberg (1979), who writes on effective management styles, did not differentiate between the two. You are required to discuss Mintzberg’s effective management roles and conclude on whether there is a difference between leadership and management.

Leadership and management are difficult terms to delineate in that they are often used with slight variations in similar fashions. In this paper we will look at some definitions of the two terms, specifically use Henry Mintzberg's framework of management roles as seen in application with the small municipality of Dalton Township in Michigan, USA, and offer a view on the demarcation between leadership and management.

Manage can be defined as "to be responsible for controlling or organizing someone or something, especially a business or employees," while lead can be defined as "to control a group of people, a country, or a situation." (Cambridge Dictionary, 2022) This supports the notion of similarity, but not the general sentiment that there is a difference. The etymologies of the words show a difference and can lend support to the idea that to lead is to "show the way" while to manage is to "control." (Online Etymology Dictionary, 2022)

There are two competing perspectives on this. One is that the concepts are distinct activities. (Kotter, 1990) The other is that one concept can be couched inside the other, as in "...leadership appears as one aspect of a manager's job." (Senior, Swailes, Carnall, 2020, pg 227)  

First we will examine the distinction that Kotter proposes, and then compare this with Mintzberg's framework. Modern management is a fairly recent development for a specific purpose, to create "consistency and order" in large organizations to keep things "on time and on budget." This is done through certain processes: planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, controlling and problem solving. (Kotter, 1990, pg 3-4) Leadership is very different in that it's about change, hopefully "constructive or adaptive change." To do this there are three subprocesses: establishing direction, aligning people, motivating and inspiring. (Kotter, 1990, pg 4-5) Management and leadership are therefore both "complete actions systems" with different functions. (Kotter, 1990, pg 5-6)

Mintzberg disagrees with there being a distinct separation between leadership and management. "The fable that leadership is separate from, and superior to, management has been bad for management and worse for leadership." (Mintzberg, 2019, pg 14) He argues against both the utility and desirability of the distinction perspective, "Instead of distinguishing leaders from managers, we should be seeing managers as leaders, and leadership as management practiced well." (Mintzberg, 2013, pg 8) These views grew out of Mintzberg's observations of managerial work as documented in his doctoral dissertation. He found that the theories of management did not accurately represent the real workings of managers. His analysis resulted in six characteristics: the manager performs a great quantity of work at an unrelenting pace; managerial activity is characterized by variety, fragmentation, and brevity; managers prefer issues that are current, specific, and ad hoc; the manager sits between his organization and a network of contacts; the manager demonstrates a strong preference for a verbal media; despite the preponderance of obligations, the manager appears to be able to control his own affairs. (Mintzberg, 1971)

From recording the activities of managers and answering why they were doing what they were doing Mintzberg was able to discern three categories of managerial roles: interpersonal roles which are figurehead, leader, and liaison; informational roles which are nerve center, disseminator, and spokesman; and decisional roles which are entrepreneur, disturbance handler, resource allocator, and negotiator. (Mintzberg, 1971) In Mintzberg's framework he does not recognize a hard line between the functions of a manager and a leader, rather that there are different roles that someone must fulfill in an organization, and that these are complex issues just as is the schedule of a manager. Leadership, and different types of leadership, are one of the things that a manager does to a greater or lesser extent throughout their activities.

To use my role as elected supervisor in Dalton Township as an example, I plan, budget, organize, staff, control, and problem solve to keep things on time and on budget so that there can be consistency and order. I qualify as a manager by Kotter's standards. I also establish direction, align people, motivate, and inspire so that we can achieve constructive change. Therefore, I also qualify as a leader by Kotter's standards. Not only am I both, what's more is that I cannot fully separate those functions. Kotter fails to note that leadership is required for order, and management is required for change. I can do more or less, but I cannot stop being a manager and just be a leader without causing organizational disaster, and the opposite extreme would cause the same. Rather, my day is spent much as Mintzberg describes in his dissertation, even the percentages look approximately correct: 36 percent information flow to and from, 34 percent dealing with requests, 6 percent ceremonial events, 15 percent scheduled, and some external board work. (Mintzberg, 1971)

There is a difference between management and leadership. Management is a complex set of activities to control and guide people and events that involves leadership to a greater or lesser degree. The two are not separable, but rather concepts necessarily nested within and supporting one another in the same person functioning in multiple roles across time.

Reference List:

Cambridge Dictionary (2022) "manage" and "lead" accessed on 27 September 2022 at: and

Kotter, J.P. (1990) A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management, New York: Free Press

Mintzberg, Henry (1971) Managerial Work: Analysis from Observation.
Management Science, Vol. 18, No. 2, Application Series. (Oct., 1971), pp. B97-B110.

Mintzberg, Henry (1972) The Nature of Managerial Work. Harpercollins College Div.

Mintzberg, Henry (1989) Mintzberg on Management: Inside our Strange World of Organizations. New York, NY, USA: The Free Press

Mintzberg, Henry (2009) Managing. San Francisco, CA, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Mintzberg, Henry (2013) Simply Managing. San Francisco, CA, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Mintzberg, Henry (2019) Bedtime Stories for Managers. Oakland, CA, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Online Etymology Dictionary (2022) "manage" and "lead" accessed on 27 September 2022 at: and

Senior B, S Swailes & C Carnall (2020) Organizational Change. 6th Edition. Harlow UK: Pearson Education.



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