Managers Versus leaders

Let’s begin by clarifying the distinction between managers and leaders. However, they aren’t necessarily the same. Managers are appointed: they have legitimate power that allows them to reward and punish. Their ability to influence is based on the formal authority inherent in their positions. In contrast leaders may either be appointed or may emerge from within a group. Leaders can influence others to perform beyond the actions dictated by formal authority.


People who are able to influence others and possess managerial authority.

Should all managers be leaders? Conversely should all leaders be managers? Because no one yet has been able to demonstrate through research or logical argument that leadership ability is a handicap to a manager, we can state that all managers should ideally be leaders. However, not all leaders necessarily have capabilities in other managerial functions and, thus not all should hold managerial positions. The fact that an individual can influence others does not mean that he or she can also plan, organize and control. Given (if only ideally) that all managers should be leaders, we can pursue the subject from a managerial perspective. Therefore by leaders we mean those who are able to influence others and who possess managerial authority.

Trait Theories of leadership

Theories that isolate characteristics that differentiate leaders from non-leaders

Ask the average person on the street what comes to mind when he or she thinks of leadership. You’re likely to get a list of qualities such as intelligence, charisma, decisiveness, enthusiasm, strength, bravery, integrity ad self confidence. These responses represent in essence, trait theories of leadership. The search for traits or characteristics that differentiate leaders from non-leaders, though done in a more sophisticated manner than our on the street survey, dominated the early research efforts in the study of leadership.

Is it possible to isolate one or more traits in individuals who are generally acknowledged to be leaders – for instance US national security advisor Condoleezza Rice NR Narayana Murthy of Infosys technologies, India, Australia Prime minister John Howard Chairman emeritus Kazuo of Kyocera Corporation or Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Sons, India – that non-leaders do not posses? We may agree that these individuals meet our definition of a leader, but they have utterly different characteristics. If the concept of traits were to prove valid, all leaders would have to possess specific characteristics.

Research efforts at isolating these traits resulted in a number of dead-ends. Attempts to identify a set of traits tat would always differentiate leaders from followers and effective leaders from ineffective leaders failed. Perhaps it was a bit optimistic to believe that a set of consistent and unique personality traits could apply across the board to all effective leaders, whether they were in charge of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Apollo Hospital, ITC Ltd., CRY o the Mumbai Tiffin box carriers association.

However, attempts to identify traits consistently associated with leadership have been more successful. Six traits on which leaders are seen to differ from non-leaders are seen to differ from non-leaders include drive, the desire to lead, honesty and integrity, self confidence, intelligence and job relevant knowledge. These traits are briefly described.

Yet traits do not sufficiently explain leadership. Explanations based solely on traits ignore situational factors. Possessing the appropriate traits only makes it more likely that an individual will be an effective leader. He or she still has to take the right actions. And what is right in one situation is not necessarily right for another situation. So, even though some interest in traits has reemerged during the past two decades, a major movement away from trait theories began as early as the 1940s. Leadership research from the late 1940s through the mid-1960s emphasized the preferred behavioral styles that leaders demonstrated.