Developing Leadership and Management Skills

Subject: Management
Pages: 12
Words: 3037
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: Bachelor


The topic of differentiating leadership and management in the context of achieving productive activities at the personal and organisational level is significant due to the unique approaches and practical methods to apply. Despite the similarity of the individual principles of maintaining performance, the two concepts under consideration are not identical and involve utilising distinctive tools and principles of interaction. This paper aims to highlight the key differences between leadership and management, provide approaches to building appropriate skills with an emphasis on the learning and development function and identify the success factors for development programmes. The differentiation of the considered concepts is an essential principle of achieving high performance in all operational procedures and steps to build a coherent and sustainable work process.

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Distinctions Between Leadership and Management

Meanings Attached to the Concepts of Leadership and Management

The concepts of leadership and management include different meanings that explain the respective implications of both concepts and describe them in terms of their appropriate contexts and environments to use. At different levels, unique manifestations are characteristic, which allows linking the necessary interpretations to specific situations. Based on this analysis, one can highlight a range of the most common meanings describing leadership and management concepts.

In addition to these meanings, one should also pay attention to individual styles that are inherent in both concepts. For instance, leadership may be transformational (flexible), transactional (rewards and punishment) and have other forms while management can include the systems theory (a range of tasks), the human relations theory (maintaining communication) and other models (Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala, 2017). Each of them has distinctive features to apply in specific work environments.

Often, leadership is seen as a mechanism that helps maintain the dynamics of work. Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala (2017, p. 479) describe this concept as “an essential driving force to achieving the vision and mission of any organization”. In other words, leadership contributes to building clear development models at the organisational level and allows focusing on the implementation of the assigned tasks. Effective control and the timely direction of collective actions exclude formulating incorrect strategies that can disrupt the basic mode of operations, which is a valuable perspective. As another definition, Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala (2017) provide a broader description and point out that leadership is a performance guarantee that implies interdependent and interactive algorithms for interaction among stakeholders.

Purposeful activities to form clear optimisation and improvement processes stimulate development, thereby creating a boost to productivity. Finally, as another definition, the authors explain leadership as a concept that helps avoid the development of conflict situations when decisions are made through personal arguments and subjective assessments (Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala, 2017). Productive leadership maintains order in decision-making and problem-solving processes, thereby eliminating professional and interpersonal contradictions and preventing disagreements among colleagues.

Management, in its broadest sense, implies performing direct control over the work of subordinates with an emphasis on specific tasks and goals. Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala (2017, p. 479) view this concept as an algorithm that “includes planning, execution and managing the people, resources and scope of the project”. This meaning is broad and explains the key tasks that managers need to accomplish in their workflow. At the same time, the concept of management can be deeper and seen as a tool that has a direct impact not only on the overall productivity results but also on individual procedures.

Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala (2017) present management as a set of measures associated with production and material resources and designed to oversee the adequate allocation of the available resource base for current and long-term needs. Finally, the concept of management can be regarded from the perspective of stimulating innovation as one of the driving forces of progress, which, as Liphadzi, Aigbavboa and Thwala (2017) state, corresponds to modern organisational realities. All of these meanings describe the features of leadership and management from different perspectives but cover related operational mechanisms and approaches.

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Distinctions Between Leadership and Management

Despite the similarities between the two concepts under consideration, they have distinctive perspectives and functions that manifest themselves at both organisational and professional levels. Vasilescu (2018) proposes several basic aspects that allow highlighting the key differences between leadership and management. For instance, the author notes that, from the standpoint of the status quo versus operational changes, leadership is focused on finding changes and creating new opportunities for optimising and modernising the workflow (Vasilescu, 2018).

In this category, management, conversely, focuses on the regulation of existing systems and control principles and adopts the existing status quo, which, as Vasilescu (2018) remarks, corresponds to the principles of real performance control. Instead of new paradigms, managers look for an opportunity to work within existing algorithms, and this aspect distinguishes management from leadership significantly.

Another area that suggests differences between the two concepts under consideration is social interaction with the staff. According to Vasilescu (2018), management is a set of measures designed to rely on control and monitoring, while leadership is based on trust and inspiration as the main drivers of success. Managers pay attention to how the staff do the work, and leaders focus on the details and factors that influence the work process (Vasilescu, 2018). Finally, from an interaction perspective, management involves telling others to perform specific tasks, while leadership is based on stimulation through energising and the personal example of how to move in the face of changes (Vasilescu, 2018). These aspects are significant distinctions and are often cited as the key factors of both concepts.

Performance perspectives and vision-building shape a meaningful difference between leadership and management. As Vasilescu (2018) argues, leadership creates vision by identifying specific progress steps and decisions to apply to optimise the workflow. Management, in turn, is based on achieving efficiency through the current mission and does not imply creative solutions for the transition to new operating modes. The components that shape productivity are also distinctive in both concepts. For management, they are appropriate budgeting, planning, facilitating, and evaluating (Vasilescu, 2018). Leadership involves focusing on motivating, building trust, finding talent, and identifying productivity channels. Therefore, leaders and managers perform distinctive operational tasks across the spectrum of their responsibilities.

One of the main aspects that makes it possible to distinguish the difference between leadership and management is their temporal focus. According to Vasilescu (2018, p. 173), management “consists of routine and structure that deal with the present”, which suggests that managers are interested in current performance indicators more than in potential prospects. In addition, the author notes that short-term goals make it possible to control the workflow and not be distracted by secondary tasks, thereby maintaining a stably dynamic environment (Vasilescu, 2018).

Unlike management, leadership has a distinctive focus and is focused on the future in which productivity, communication and other important workflow nuances are assessed higher. As Vasilescu (2018, p. 173) states, this concept “focuses on long-range goals, keeping an eye on the horizon”. Thus, in general, management is a more pragmatic and clear-cut approach, while leadership is focused on more abstract tasks.

Approaches to Developing Leaders and Managers

A Range of Approaches to Development

The development of leadership and management qualities can take place due to the promotion of specific approaches that stimulate the adoption of relevant skills and the acquisition of the necessary knowledge. From the perspective of leadership, there are several common forms of training, and one of them is the directing approach. According to Salehzadeh (2017), this development model assumes motivation as the main tool to stimulate interest in honing specific skills. If an employee does not have enough knowledge or experience to complete the assigned tasks, the directing approach aims to help find the necessary resources and ways to address the issue.

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Another approach to developing leadership skills is coaching that is often used at the organisational level. As Salehzadeh (2017) remarks, this approach involves creating a personal example as a model of behaviour and shapes clear objectives for the target audience to realise. Compared to the directing approach, this type of development implies closer interaction with the object or objects of learning. At the same time, wards are encouraged to show initiative and gain new knowledge through self-education.

The supporting approach to leadership development is similar to that of coaching. One of the main differences, according to Salehzadeh (2017), is that the interaction is less intimate, and an employee has more leeway by relying only on recommendations from a mentor. Finally, the delegating approach, as Salehzadeh (2017) states, involves transferring the authority to an individual to meet the relevant expectations assigned. If a person copes with the set task successfully, this indicates the acquired leadership skills.

With regard to management development approaches, one can also highlight several methods for honing related skills. One of them is the dysfunction analysis that involves identifying the poorest management qualities and focusing on improving them (Kubberød, Fosstenløkken and Erstad, 2018). The authors also offer to pay attention to coaching as a method that is similar to the principle of leadership development (Kubberød, Fosstenløkken and Erstad, 2018). An individual learns to control the current work process, make important decisions and manage the team while observing the necessary recommendations. This practice builds self-confidence and attention to details, which are crucial attainments.

The mentoring approach is part of development programmes not only for leaders but also for managers. The application of this model involves following specific strategies that, as a rule, correspond to the main management styles and practices promoted today. According to Kubberød, Fosstenløkken and Erstad (2018), this approach is based on creating a productive environment in which mentees are able to make specific decisions on their own while relying on mentors’ support.

Finally, the job rotation model can be considered a more advanced management development approach compared to the previous ones. By following this strategy, managers strive to ensure that subordinates learn to be flexible and fulfil distinctive obligations. Therefore, tasks are distributed among employees in a new, uncharacteristic way so that colleagues could have an opportunity to evaluate and do one another’s work. This approach not only strengthens the professionalism of the personnel but also unites the team, which is a valuable perspective to accomplish.

Role of the L&D Function in Leadership and Management Development

Providing effective leadership and management development largely depends on the tools and practices used to teach relevant attainments. As a significant component of such training, one can note the implementation of the learning and development (L&D) function. According to Armstrong (2016), one of the values ​​of this function in the considered context is the identification and assessment of leadership attainments. Through special practical assignments and scenarios, mentors and coaches can determine whether an employee has the necessary potential to develop corresponding knowledge and gain experience in controlling and leading personnel.

Another significant role of the L&D function from a leadership and management development perspective is the needs assessment. As Armstrong (2016) states, this function allows highlighting the current educational needs and correlating them with future capabilities. An individual is tested in terms of knowledge and attitudes, and further, a comprehensive picture is drawn regarding an optimal learning regime. In an organisational environment, this algorithm is convenient because such procedures can be carried out in group sessions, thereby saving time and resources. In addition, any employee has an opportunity to participate in such programmes, which evens colleagues’ possibilities and creates a level playing field for leadership or management development.

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From the previous standpoint on the application of the L&D function, one can also look at its role as the assessment of group and individual perspectives on leadership and management development. Armstrong (2016) highlights behavioural, operational and other differences between these two forms of work, and the implementation of appropriate learning algorithms can help target specific learning tasks at both levels. In a dynamic work environment and distinctive responsibilities, this way of development is relevant due to the alternation of interventions and the training of different skills necessary to control personnel and stimulate colleagues’ productive work.

The role of the tool that helps build the design of appropriate leadership and management development interventions makes the L&D function an essential component of respective programmes. Since any training session involves utilising theoretical or practical materials to study, as well as a combination of both approaches in some cases, the L&D function allows shaping the structure of educational stages. According to Armstrong (2016), organisational behaviour is not static and can be influenced by specific transformations caused by educational interventions. Therefore, in such conditions, a favourable environment for the adoption of the necessary skills is created.

Finally, another valuable role of the L&D function in the context of leadership and management development is an opportunity to evaluate the outcomes of training interventions. Since any educational programme includes criteria for assessment, at the end of training sessions, responsible mentors or coaches can determine how successfully relevant materials have been studied by the target audience. Armstrong (2016) mentions formal learning courses, open practical assignments, and other steps that involve utilising the L&D function. The ability to draw conclusions based on real performance indicators allows drawing up clear plans for further work with personnel and highlighting potentially significant areas of development.

Success of Leadership and Management Development Programmes

Indicators of Success

The success of leadership and management development programmes can be determined by several criteria that prove the quality of training projects and educational sessions. One of these factors confirming the effectiveness of appropriate programmes is changed behaviour. According to Park and Kim (2018), knowledge sharing among employees in an organisation can be evidence of productive intervention to promote specific leadership skills. The higher is the level of professional communication in the team, the higher is the quality of leadership and management activities. The ability to adopt new skills and introduce them into the direct work process characterises the sustainability and effectiveness of development programmes.

Another evidence of the success of leadership and management development projects is a positive perception and an adequate response to any optimisation processes. As an example, Park and Kim (2018) cite the principle of transformational leadership that is characterised by flexibility and the ability to adapt to the current circumstances based on today’s needs. Employees may be ready to take part in change projects and make a feasible contribution to strengthening organisational and operational activities. These factors, in turn, indicate a competent leadership culture promoted in the organisation and valuable training approaches to teaching the necessary skills.

A high level of employee engagement is an indicator of the successful implementation of leadership and management development programmes. As Pandita and Ray (2018) argue, this perspective is valuable due to an opportunity to ensure a well-coordinated team of professionals. Moreover, the management does not need to spend much money on recruiting projects and training new employees. A high leadership culture stimulates the company’s commitment, which, in turn, has a positive effect on job performance and microclimate. Therefore, employee engagement is an essential indicator of successful leadership and management training programmes.

High retention rates are also an indicator of the effectiveness of leadership development programmes. Moreover, Pandita and Ray (2018) highlight the retention of talented employees as one of the success factors. The lower is the turnover in the company, the more successful and authoritative are leaders who motivate colleagues and demonstrate commitment by personal example. Thus, the aforementioned indicators prove the quality of properly oriented leadership and management development programmes promoted at the organisational level.

Methods to Ensure the Success of Leadership and Management Development Programmes

To ensure the success of leadership and management development programmes, corresponding methods and approaches are applied, which are designed to ensure the sustainability of such projects. One of them is defining the current development needs, and based on them, the necessary strategies are developed. According to Fernández-Aráoz, Roscoe and Aramaki (2017), in different operating environments, distinctive goals are promoted, which depend on job specifics and short- and long-term objectives. Thus, the adaptation of these programmes to the current needs is a valuable aspect of achieving the desired results of training work. If leaders and managers can supervise and motivate colleagues with a focus on the necessary goals, this enhances the value of appropriate training.

Another approach to ensuring the success of programmes under consideration is stakeholder mapping. As Fernández-Aráoz, Roscoe and Aramaki (2017) remark, if potential leaders are chosen correctly and reasonably, this will have valuable implications not only on operational activities but also on other working aspects, for instance, team communication. The algorithm of mapping allows drawing up a convenient plan for the implementation and maintenance of the necessary programme aimed to provide a stable leadership background in a company. For this purpose, different parties can be involved, including both senior management and front-line employees, to obtain an objective picture of the current needs and capabilities.

Finally, as another method to ensure the success of leadership and management development programmes, one should consider the importance of establishing measurement strategies to assess potential outcomes. For instance, the parameter of motivation is difficult to evaluate in numerical format since this criterion is individual. However, Fernández-Aráoz, Roscoe and Aramaki (2017, p. 87) note that “the other predictors – curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination – can be measured and compared”.

In other words, to assess the quality of training projects implemented, decision-makers should take into account the criteria that can be measured, thereby comparing the data before and after the intervention and obtaining specific outcomes. This method is a convenient and effective solution to evaluate how effective a particular leadership and management development programme has been implemented.


Leadership and management concepts include a wide range of terms and approaches and, despite their similarity, differ in various criteria, which allows implementing distinctive organisational and operational tasks with their help. In a general sense, leadership is focused on motivating and stimulating future achievements while management aims to address the current needs and control today’s performance. The approaches to developing these skills vary and include coaching, mentoring, supporting and some other strategies. The L&D function is of great importance in the context of developing effective leadership and management development programs. To ensure the success of such projects, various methods can be applied, for instance, focusing on the current needs or compiling measurement strategies.

Reference List

Armstrong, M. (2016) Armstrong’s handbook of management and leadership for HR: developing effective people skills for better leadership and management. 4th edn. London: Kogan Page.

Fernández-Aráoz, C., Roscoe, A. and Aramaki, K. (2017) ‘Turning potential into success: the missing link in leadership development’, Harvard Business Review, 95(6), pp. 86-93.

Kubberød, E., Fosstenløkken, S. M., & Erstad, P. O. (2018) ‘Peer mentoring in entrepreneurship education: towards a role typology’, Education + Training, 60(9), pp. 1026-1040.

Liphadzi, M., Aigbavboa, C. O. and Thwala, W. D. (2017) ‘A theoretical perspective on the difference between leadership and management’, Procedia Engineering, 196, pp. 478-482.

Pandita, D. and Ray, S. (2018) ‘Talent management and employee engagement – a meta-analysis of their impact on talent retention’, Industrial and Commercial Training, 50(4), pp. 185-199.

Park, S. and Kim, E. J. (2018) ‘Fostering organizational learning through leadership and knowledge sharing’, Journal of Knowledge Management, 22(6), pp. 1408-1423.

Salehzadeh, R. (2017) ‘Which types of leadership styles do followers prefer? A decision tree approach’, International Journal of Educational Management, 31(7), pp. 865-877.

Vasilescu, M. (2018) ‘Management versus leadership: a key theoretical distinction’, Annals – Economy Series, 6, pp. 170-175.