Kotter Management Vs Leadership Essay

People often mistake leadership and management as the same thing but in essence they are very different.

Leadership is about inspiring and Management is about planning

Leaders have a tendency to praise success and drive people, whereas managers work to find faults.

For both sides to understand what they have to do, and to achieve excellence in doing it, they need to comprehend the essence of the difference between them. This is a matter of definition – understanding how the roles are different and how they might overlap.


  • Managers Give Directions
  • Managers have subordinates
  • Managers use an authoritarian, transactional style
  • Managers tell what to do
  • Managers have good ideas
  • Managers react to change
  • Managers try to be heroes
  • Managers exercise power over people
  • Leaders ask questions
  • Leaders have followers
  • Leaders have a motivational, empowering style
  • Leaders show what to do
  • Leaders implement good ideas
  • Leaders create change
  • Leaders make heroes of everyone around them
  • Leaders develop power with people


You must think of one without the other to truly see the differences that exist between them. Management without leadership controls resources to maintain.
There are many different types of leadership and management styles where different situations, groups, or cultures, may require the use of different styles in order to set a direction or ensure that it is followed.

One way to decipher which of the two you may be is to count the number of people outside your reporting hierarchy who come to you for advice. The more that do, the more likely it is that you are perceived to be a leader.


John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at Harvard University fears that too often, employers use the terms synonymously. If an organisation is run effectively, leadership and management will exist in tandem.

Mentoring and formal training can help employees utilise and use their leadership skills. According to research by the Chartered Management Institute, 90% of members who have completed a management and leadership qualification found the experience improved their performance at work. There was also a “ripple effect”, with 81% of those surveyed passing on their knowledge to colleagues.

Celebrating individual leaders can also cause some to forget that it is never just one person running the show.

Not everyone who is in charge of a team is both a leader and a manager, in order to have a successful organisation there needs to be a mixture of both.
Many people are both, having managed people but realised that you cannot buy people to follow you down a difficult path, and so act as leaders too. The challenge lies in making sure you are both leading your team as well as managing your day to day operation. Those who are able to do both, will create a competitive advantage.

Mindset can also have a powerful effect on the success of a leader, Understanding Emotional Contagion can be a tool to success.


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Management and leadership practises were once just a subject for TV sitcoms – the Office's David Brent, a master of 'management speak', was celebrated as an example of all that is bad about bosses.

But recent scandals, such as those concerning the BBC, NHS and the banking sector, have forced the debate about management and leadership up the agenda. Employers and politicians alike are now asking how our public and private bodies should be organised – and how we can prepare the next generation of leaders.

Key to the problem is understanding the difference between management and leadership, says John Kotter, Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at Harvard University. He fears that too often, employers use the terms synonymously.

"Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning. They make it work today – they make it hit this quarter's numbers. The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan."

Leadership is very different. "It is about aligning people to the vision, that means buy-in and communication, motivation and inspiration."

Churchill is a great example of a leader, but he is not manager. "He is not beloved because he made the bureaucracy function."

If an organisation is run effectively, leadership and management will exist in tandem, adds Jonathan Gosling, professor of leadership studies at the University of Exeter Business School. He points to the management technique known as target-setting – a concept that will only work when good leadership is present.

"Target setting is a management technique used to focus attention on certain activities. A hospital, for example, might set targets around waiting times."

For this exercise to work, someone within the hospital must show leadership by emphasising the importance of the activity. "In this example, the wider purpose is helping patients to lead better lives. A leader needs to inspire employees by showing how meeting a target can contribute towards this aim. They also need to think of new ways of reaching that target."

How an organisation strikes a balance between management and leadership depends on the environment in which it operates. "If the world is not changing and you are on top, then management is essential but more leadership really is not," says Kotter. "Leadership is always about change: it's not about mobilising people to do what they've always done well to continue to do it well."

But at a time of economic crisis and technological transformation, leadership has never been more essential, according to Dame Mary Marsh founding director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and former chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). She emphasises that employees should be encouraged to develop the necessary qualities as soon as possible.

"It's crazy to think that you only need to lead when you're working at the top of an organisation – you simply can't learn it all then because you'll be too busy doing it."

While management and leadership are distinct concepts, there is a natural overlap between the skills they require, argues Marsh.

"There will be senior leaders who are particularly focused on strategic aims, but it's a great mistake to think that if you're managing a team you're only managing it. You're actually leading as well."

Mentoring and formal training can help employees make the most of opportunities to use leadership skills, according to research by the Chartered Management Institute. It reports that 90% of members who have completed a management and leadership qualification found the experience improved their performance at work. There was also a "ripple effect", with 81% of those surveyed passing on their knowledge to colleagues.

Academics say that training demystifies the idea of leadership. They fear the media's representations of popular "hero leaders", such as Steve Jobs or Churchill, have caused some to believe that only a select few are born with the ability to work in a top-level position.

"At any one time the world has a very limited number of Steve Jobs or Winston Churchills or Thomas Watson the firsts," says Kotter. "These are wonderful people and we can learn much from them, but praying for a few more of them to solve the world's problems is not a great idea."

Celebrating individual leaders can also cause some to forget that it is never just one person running the show, adds Marsh.

"Leadership needs to be clear and strategic, but it also needs to be collaborative both between and within organisations."

"You've got to be able to listen, to engage, to emphasise. You need to be maintaining a customer focus and growing the people around you." At a time when many businesses are facing budget cuts, such qualities are essential, she adds.

For Julie Davenport, founder and chief executive of Good Energy, the path to effective management and leadership begins at school.

While communication and writing should be nutured in the classroom, team work exercises should also be prioritised.

"These can be developed through other areas including sport, art, design, and music, activities that aren't confined to the classroom and are sometimes neglected in the push for academic results."

These soft skills, Gosling agrees, are essential to all those helping to run an organisation. "There are people who have a lot of great qualities and capacities for huge workloads or discerning what is and isn't of strategic importance – but who have no ability to communicate or engender trust among people.

"In any workplace, these are the qualities that matter."

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