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Managers vs. Leaders: Can Theory Make a Difference?

written by: A. Melendez • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 12/31/2012

Most of us have heard someone say things like this before, “My boss can only manage from the book." Management theory should be an important part of the strategic management process. Managers are challenged by employees in many ways almost daily.

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    Manager, Leader, or Both?

    Think about the ways that managers are challenged almost daily, and then consider the question, "Can theory help msxc.hu, barunpatro anagers now more than ever before?" Examples of these challenges can be the Internet, the fast growth of cyber systems and the number of users operating these systems. In addition, employees are becoming more aware that having a better education is more critical now in achieving both professional and personal success. That makes subordinates a smarter workforce.

    Managers are confronted by employees at work now more than they were in the past. This is mostly due to the perception received by subordinates that there is a lack of balance between education and/or theoretical knowledge, sometimes making subordinates better educated than their managers; and that is creating problems in the workplace.

    Before going any further, a distinction should be made between management and leadership. Management involves planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling; and a manager is the person who performs these functions. A manager has certain authority which is inherited by virtue of his or her position. Leadership differs from management in that it primarily deals with influence. Just because someone has the ability to be a good manager does not mean that he or she can be an effective leader. A leader's ability to influence others may be based on a variety of factors other than his or her formal authority or position. If used correctly and strategically, theory can be a good ingredient for a manager’s recipe to be also an effective leader.

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    Management Theory: The Importance of Managers Leading Effectively

    Management theory should be made an important part of the strategic management process of any organization. It improves productivity and, by de facto, helps managers become more effective leaders. For example, if you are an entrepreneur or you're self employed and you end up hiring people to help with your business, or contract out certain responsibilities that you cannot do for yourself, then you can recognize how tricky it is to find qualified competent experts to provide you a service or work for you.

    In order to maximize labor productivity and learn how to manage but also to lead people, managers should become more educated. It is sometimes misconceived that once you reach top-level management, you have learned everything that you need to know about being a manager. You have made your way up to the top and you don’t need any more training. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost all management training can help even the best managers learn something new.

    Not one of us is perfect. Even a really good manager has not mastered every single skill. Also, once you have been a top-level manager for a while, it can be difficult to remember what it was like when you were a lower-level manager or an entry-level employee. Those are important perspectives to remember in order to continue to relate on the same level with peers and subordinates as well as understand where they come from.

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    sxc.hu, ljleavell As stated before, the key to business management success is to maximize productivity. However, while management theory does aim toward getting a group of entities to achieve a certain goal, it does not necessarily achieve in making people more productive toward this cause. Management is not just a science, but is also an art. The same goes for leadership.

    There are many benefits to knowing management theory. First of all, management theory doesn't just teach someone how to inspire employees to be more productive, it also shows managers how to be good bosses. It can make the difference for them to know how to deal with issues that may exist in the workplace.

    Managers have to efficiently deal with these issues and simultaneously maintain a stable or improving level of productivity. With management, you have to balance a multitude of tasks daily, and becoming familiar with management theory can help tremendously. That is why more managers are becoming aware of the necessity to arm themselves with techniques and tools that may sometimes come in the form of management theory.

    Most of the leadership training programs offered today are aimed at helping you discover the leadership style you exhibit and making you aware of its strengths and weaknesses. However, one style that can be easily applied to any managerial challenge and not dictated by the leadership skills of the manager is the situational leadership style. The theory behind situational leadership is more closely tied to using the style needed to be successful given the existing work environment or the specific needs of the business.

    Theory and experience together are the perfect equation for good management. People are the most important asset in any organization and they deserve good management and better leadership. This is no easy task if you're wondering whether theory can help managers be more effective leaders. By following the suggestions provided in this article, things can be turned around while learning to be both a better manager and a better leader.

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    References & Image Credits

    References:

    1. Deborah J. Barrett - Leadership Communication, McGraw Hill publishers, 2009. See review of this book at http://www.amazon.com/Leadership-Communication-Deborah-Barrett/dp/0073377775/
    2. Usmani, Mukhtar. Management - act, manner and practice of managing at Management4Best blog. Why is Management Theory Important? Retrieved at http://management4best.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-is-management-theory-important.html

    Image credits:

    sxc.hu, barunpatro

    sxc.hu, ljleavell

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