Leadership versus Management
FORMAL AND INFORMAL STRUCTURES WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION
The issue of leadership integration in management has a long and difficult history in the theory
of management. Leadership is the primary field of study in sociology and social psychology,
which also introduce it in management as well. As already mentioned, leadership is closely
related to power and a whole range of different types of influence. On the one hand, the
leader is the natural wielder of power and, on the other hand, “one of the most important
traits of management of social systems is that it is always an act of influence “(Andreeva, 1996,
p. 11). The function of leadership as a process of deliberate influence through power is indeed
of great importance to management.
Meanwhile, if leadership is required to be an object of integration, then it is not a natural part
of management. In order to verify the compatibility between leadership and management, it
is necessary to trace the contexts in which the two events may be observed. The social nature
of an organization may be described by its half-hidden duality. Within the limits of the same
organization we simultaneously have formal and informal social processes. This helps us
distinguish between two types of structure – formal and informal.
The formal structure of an organization is easy to observe and control by the management
because it is a part of it. The easiest way to present it visually is through the organizational
structure. It clearly shows the hierarchical structure, the levels within the organization, the
channels of communication and interaction on horizontal and vertical levels. A number of
different types of design and approach to describing this formal structure of the organization
exist. No matter which we choose to use, it will encompass the formal traits of the
organization. Depending on the scale, specific positions and whole sections may be described
(Angelov, 1998). What is specific about an organization’s structure is that it ignores the
personality of people. It is of no concern to it whether people within a given structural unit
(section, object, office) like each other or not. Traditionally, compatibility is an issue of
An informal structure within an organization also exists. It often remains in the shadow of
the formal one and not much attention is given to its study. Informal structure is quite dynamic
and it is not so easy to provide a description of it. This structure consists of the correlation
between sympathy and antipathy among those who work within the organization. Using the
principle of attraction and repulsion, informal groups are formed which rarely coincide with
the formal structural units. Thus, it may be possible that in one section or department there
is an unlimited number of informal groups. Each of them has its own values, culture, goals,
attitudes etc. The possibility that the informal group consists of workers and employees from
different sections or hierarchical levels also exists. The sum of all informal groups and the
interactions between them which are manifested within the limits of the organization form its
informal structure (Tangen S, 2004).
The informal structure presents a considerable difficulty for management in that it does not
succumb to control by formal methods. Moreover, informal groups rarely limit themselves
within the organization. They often include people who are not a part of the organization and
interact outside the formal limits of an organization (Darr K, 2004). It happens so that
management has at its disposal only legitimate power, which is inherent of a formal
organization but by itself is insufficient when trying to influence the informal structure in the
organization. The only way to influence certain elements of it is through the social power of a
leader. The leader in his crystalized form is an integral part of the informal group. There, he is
vested with power by the members of the group and receives certain rights, privileges,
responsibilities and obligations from his followers (French R, Rayner C, Rees G, Rumbles S,
It is important to note that every miscommunication between the formal and informal
structure in a group leads to diminished effectiveness and has negative influence over the
work performance. It is obvious why it is vital for management to incorporate leadership in its
arsenal of tools of influence. If a manager is a leader, he could have a lot more power through
which to influence the behavior of his employees.
MANAGER OR A LEADER
The pursuit of power by a manager makes it necessary for him to become a part of the
informal structures in an organization. His integration alone is not enough. He needs to be a
leader within these structures in order to acquire the needed power. Solving such an issue is
no easy task. On the one hand, the manager has to preserve his legitimate power – to keep
his affiliation to the formal organizational structure. On the other hand, he has to win trust,
thus, becoming the informal leader and acquiring social power too. Such a situation is strongly
reminiscent of a balancing act in which the balance is the borderline between triumph and
failure. In order to clarify the complexity of this balance, we need to compare the manager
and the leader in their “pure” forms.
Managers are people who assign management tasks and their primary aim is to achieve the
desired goals thanks to the key management functions of planning and drawing up a budget,
organizing and hiring personnel, problem solving and control. Leaders, on the other hand,
define the direction, involve people, motivate and inspire (Kotter, 2001). Other researchers
consider that the leader is the soul, passion and creativity while the manager is orientated
towards rationality and sustainability. The leader is flexible, innovative, inspirational,
courageous and independent. At the same time, the manager is an expert, analytical,
deliberately authoritative and stable (Capowski, 1994).
The most important differences between a leader and a manager pertain to the workplace
and are described in Table 1.
Table 1: Comparison between managerial and leadership approach to management in the
workplace (Kotterman, 2006)
Kotterman’s analysis paints the leader as more agreeable and successful to the manager. In
that case, is it not possible for a leader to completely replace the manager? The answer is NO.
No matter how attractive a leader seems to be at first glance, an organization needs formality
– structure, hierarchy, procedures, and policies – to function properly. Namely because of this
reason isthe idea of a manager-leader established. It provides a simple solution to the dispute
between the manager and the leader. The manager-leader is a manager in essence, who has
the desired qualities and is capable of creating suitable situations in which to develop his
HOW TO CREATE A MANAGER-LEADER
Creating a manager-leader (or a manager with a leadership profile) is not easy at all. There is
no single recipe for that balance. To a large degree, the compatibility of certain qualities in
one and the same person is impossible. It is hard for a person to be punctual and creative,
analytical and communicative at the same time. Thus, it has become common practice for
good managers to be taught and trained in leadership skills. Theoretical studies on leadership
give us a sound enough basis for creating various teaching methods. Nevertheless, selfanalysis and self-actualization remain the most effective methods.
Because developing a leader into a good manager is a lot harder, it is accepted that a manager
may develop his leadership skills. This can be achieved through everyday self-observation.
After a manager has finished his self-assessment, has determined his strong sides and the
fields in which he needs to develop on his way of becoming a leader, he only needs to continue
with his observation. Through constant self-observation and analysis of the situations and his
reactions everyone may be able to correct his behavior or to create new behavioral models. If
it becomes a constant process, then success does not lie far. In order to completely close the
cycle of self-actualization, two significant components need to be added – willpower and
feedback. Willpower is the engine which tirelessly provides the manager with an impulse and
feedback is necessary in order to be able to verify the direction and vision of the desired
In order to manage an organization, the maximum possible quantity of power needs
to be concentrated in one person.
An organization is dualistic in nature. On the one hand, it is formal, but on the other
hand, informal groups function within it, which cannot be controlled by the methods
of pure management. Therefore, it is necessary to combine managerial skills and
Therefore, the combination of formal structure and informal groups within the
organization may be examined as a source of power, which may be attained only
through combining management with leadership.
Because a manager is regarded as being an expert in a given field, and a leader – with
certain qualities and skills, in practice it is agreed that is better to develop the
leadership skills and qualities in a manager than vice versa.
The development of leadership qualities and skills is possible thanks to selfobservation, self-analysis and self-actualization. But to guarantee success, willpower
and feedback is needed.
Capowski, G. (1994) Anatomy of a leader: where are the leaders of tomorrow? Management
Review, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p.10-18.
Darr, S. (2004) Introduction to Management and Leadership Concept, Principles and Practices.
French, R., Rayner, C., Rees, G, Rumbles, S. (2011) Organizational Behavior, United Kingdom.
Kotter, J. P. (2001) What leaders really do?, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79 Issue 11, 2001,
Kotterman, J. (2006) Leadership vs Management: What’s the Difference?, Journal for Quality
& Participation, Vol. 29, Issue 2, p.13-17.
Tangen, S. (2004) Performance Measurement: From Philosophy to Practice, International
Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 8, p. 726-737.