Leadership versus Management: Research Findings

Northouse (2007, p.9) notes that leadership is a process that is similar to management in many ways. Leadership involves influence, as does management. Leadership and management both entail working with people. Both leadership and management are concerned with effective goal accomplishment.

However, there are also differences. The study of leadership can be tracked back to Aristotle, but management emerged around the turn of the 20th century with the advent of industrialized society.

Northouse notes:

"management was created as a way to reduce chaos in organizations and to make them run more effectively and efficiently. The primary function of management, as first identified by Fayol (1916), were planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling".


Many scholars argue that leadership and management are different concepts. For example, Abraham Zaleznik writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1977 pointed out that leaders are those that energize a system. Leaders live in a working environment that is often chaotic. In contrast, Zaleznik saw managers acting to ensure the stability of the system. Zaleznik's article was reprinted in 1992 (cited in Field, 2002).

Northouse (2007, p.11) notes that Zaleznik was approaching the issue from a narrower viewpoint and went so far as to argue that leaders and managers themselves are basically different types of people. Zaleznik noted that managers are reactive and prefer to work with people to solve problems but do so with low emotional involvement. He believed that leaders are emotionally active and involved. They seek to shape ideas instead of responding to them and act to expand the available options to solve long-standing problems.


Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 License

Sirje Virkus, Tallinn University, 2009