Business Managers Must Be Great Leaders

Leadership has always been at the forefront of management training. However, the four functions of management depict leadership as one of the four. For instance, Henri Fayol a French mining engineer, mining executive, author and director of mines who developed general theory of business administration that is often called Fayolism, has been posited as the forefather of the functions of management. Although he had more than four in his original publication in France; the four that seemed to stand the test of time are controlling, leading, planning… and planning.

Leadership, being a strong component of management has manifested itself into the forefront of many executives and aspiring leaders. There are more reasons than one that Fayol included leadership as a function of management. For example, leadership stems from ancient history. The concept of leadership highly manifested itself in ancient extended families that constructed clans as the central ingredient of cities such as Rome. The role of leadership was considerably centralized, and membership in the clans was highly demanding in order to be successful in the social institutions.

Leadership is rooted in ancient history, and leadership is an ancient art. Today, the question remains, can leaders be made or do they have to be born leaders to be successful? Before attempting to answer this question, let us agree that leaders can be made and that being a born leader may be an additional attribute of leadership.

To demonstrate, there are some examples of the ancient writings. For example, Confucius, a philosopher of ancient China, says “if a leader behaves as a noble should, all goes well even though the leader gives no orders. But if a leader does not behave as a noble should, people will not even obey when the leader gives orders.” While Fayol captured the essence of leadership in his functions of management, leadership is not a new phenomenon and stems from ancient times.

While a leader acquires his competencies by embracing education, a manager becomes familiar with managerial activities by undergoing training. The education system is more strategic, synthetic, experimental, flexible, active, and broad when compared to training principles that manifest themselves in being passive, narrow and rote. Moreover, there is a profound difference between leaders and managers. A leader takes a proactive approach towards more strategic goals, and evokes expectations of followers and images for them to follow in the direction of influencing and coaching them. Leadership focuses on challenging the current norms and motivating employees. Followers, as intellectual capital, are trained to think about organizational issues in a more innovative and creative manner.

This intention cannot be achieved without developing trust-based relationships by which human assets could share their knowledge and new ideas with others. So the question still arises that why is management and leadership so different. Henry Mintzberg, an author and scholar in the area of management at McGill University in Canada feels that they are not so different and being a manager is being a leader. Management emphasizes more operational objectives rather than investigating strategic goals. Therefore, management has been highlighted as an authority relationship to maintain the status quo through coordinating and controlling subordinate activities. This is where scholars part ways.

Once the status quo is mentioned, it appears that management is stagnant and overly consuming in nature. It is not, management and leadership are one and the same and to be a good manager a person has to also be a good leader. The following table summarizes some distinctions between leadership and management that have been posited by scholars over the past ten years or so by very prominent academics. The table indicates a dichotomy of management and leadership but anyone can see that being both is much more important than being simply one or the other.


• Doing the Right Things • Coaching • Taking a Proactive Approach • Having a Long-Term Perspective • Enhancing Trust • Innovating • Focusing on People • Challenging Norms


• Doing Things Right • Evaluating • Taking a Reactive Approach • Having a Short-Term Perspective • Controlling Subordinates • Performing Functions • Focusing on Structure • Maintaining the Status Quo

The table above is important to show the highlights of leadership versus management but there are times when everything in the table on both sides are important functions of managers. Furthermore Burns (1978) concluded that leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth. There is no comprehensive definition that encompasses all of the leadership aspects.

Although the current definitions on the concept of leadership and management are somewhat different, these idealized definitions provide various viewpoints about leadership that could positively contribute to define the concept of leadership. Let us now define this thing called leadership as influenced interactions with groups of followers to implement changes and achieve the determined goals. That definition sounds a lot like management and it should because as mentioned earlier, leadership is a function of management. This controversy among academics has taken on new form. Scholars are experts in management and leadership but very few take pride in being scholars of both except for Fayol who would fall into the category of a management historian.

The true basis of leadership was built upon a model that generated two sides of an X and Y axis. On one side is the concept of leadership that creates change through taking a process-oriented and the other as more of a relationship-oriented approach. When thinking of leadership and politics, a leader has to be a politician but a politician does not always have to be a leader. Similarly, based upon the management versus leadership idea, a manager always has to be a leader but a leader does not always have to be a manager.


Mostafa Sayyadi is a senior business consultant in Australia. In recognition of his work with Australian Institute of Management and Australian Human Resources Institute, he has been awarded the titles, “Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management” (AFAIM), “Certified Professional Manager” (CPMgr) and “Certified Professional in Human Resources” (CAHRI).