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Leader and manager 41252

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A very common question which is discussed in the context of conglomerates, successors politics and almost every area involving leadership is: Are leaders made or born? This assignment has thrown in statements which claim that organizations in this era do not require managers. It further argues that leaders need to only know the hard facts on the practice of leadership, chiefly because leaders are born with such instincts to lead, where else managers can be moulded to ‘manage’. The research done for the purpose of this assignment would mostly tilt in disagreement, as some leaders can indeed be made, depending on various external forces. However, it is true that organisations today need leaders and not managers.

Analysis on the Disparity between Managers and Leaders

Maccoby (2000) has provided a clear distinction between managers and leader , by stating that managers are principally administrators who are in charge of setting the budget, preparing business plans, and hires people, among their other functions. He has stated that leaders, on the other hand get organisations and their employees to change. Klagge (1997) in his publication three years before that has concurred by affirming that the primary duties of leaders are to be respecting, teaching, guiding, supporting and modelling. The changingminds.org website (2000) has pointed out an interesting aspect which outlines that in reality, a manager is sometimes both, an administrator and a leader. They need to be leaders as they will soon begin to realise that they are unable to buy hearts to get people to follow them at the same wavelength.

The primary distinction in areas involving management and leadership according to Drath and Palus (1994) can be distinguished by the way they motivate their subordinates. Managers are given authority to conduct certain aspects of the job, but it is not necessary that they are able to gain respect of their employees, which will subsequently emerge to be true followers. As reflected from four different sources, most management gurus have all harmonised to the views that management and leadership differ chiefly because leaders have followers, who conform to their style of working and philosophies.

Are Leaders Made or Born?

There are many websites and literatures that agree that leaders are made, not born. To quote a few, Saal & Knight (1988), Frohman (1995) and Dumaine (1990), who argued that there is a leader in everybody. However, many decades ago, there were several schools of thoughts that claimed that leaders were born. One of them was Bernard (1926). He explained that leadership was internal qualities that a person was born with and the key to success was to identify those people who were born to be great leaders. The major flaw with this line of thought was that the situational and environmental factors which play a part in the leaders’ effectiveness are ignored.

To quote an example to determine the author’s stand for the purpose of this assignment, a real life example would aid in building a strong case for this argument. Phoolan Devi also known as the Bandit Queen was a well-known personality in India. She had a pitiful childhood, being born in a small village where girls are a taboo. Being gang-raped, abused physically and mentally, Phoolan Devi became a rebel, a feminist and a female Robin Hood who fought for the poor. After serving 11 years in the prison, she went on being a member of the Parliament. Her death came hastily at the age of 37, when she was shot dead. She was a leader to many. She was a criminal-cum-politician to some.

Most questions boil down to are people made to be a certain way they are, or is it the environment or circumstance that makes them they way they are? Criminals for example, it is indeed arguable, but most of us would agree, no child is born a criminal. They grow up to be who they are, good or bad, due to the surroundings and events of their lives which drove them to that path.

This compliments the argument as highlighted earlier, that the surroundings and background of each leader would tell the story on what made he or she evolve to be who they are today. As management literatures begin to advance from believing that leaders were born, Saal & Knight (1988) were among the first to boldly establish that leadership was not necessarily an inborn trait.

Transforming Managers to Leaders in an Organisation

It is true that managers can be made. So can leaders. Of course, in organisations there may be leaders who are better than another based on a certain aspect, for example, communication. Admittedly, there are managers in every organisation who have stuck true to the word and performed only ‘managing’ tasks. The leadership mechanism from very late last century had already begun calling form managers to transform to become leaders. Right from the last few decades, it has been apparent that managers are somewhat distinguished from leaders. Klagge (1997) has declared that organisational leaders are not required to develop leadership skills to produce a high performing team.

Disputing the statement made in the assignment question, the facts below supplements that leaders can be made. The broad and varied body of work on leadership suggests that there are many appropriate ways to lead or various styles of leadership. Commonly, based on observations, there is no one way to lead, as it depends on the manager’s style and the business and political complexity in the organisation. As such, the leader can be either appointed to an appropriate situation given his or her style of leadership, the leader can exhibit different behaviours or the situation can be altered to best match the leader (Horner, 1997).

Schein (1985) has linked the emergence of leadership with organisational culture. He has written that for leaders to be effective, issues related to culture must be clearly identified. For example, one aspect of culture is change. Leaders must clearly be able to adapt to change, depending on the culture of the organisation as the organisation develops according to time. Transformational leadership, which is what this section of the assignment is pointing towards, searches for ways to help motivate followers by satisfying higher-order needs and more fully engaging them in the process of the work (Base,1985). If managers today are able to do this effectively, they can initiate and cope with change, and subsequently create something new out of the old. This way, managers evolve to be leaders, whilst moulding their followers and organisation to develop. They will be able to build strong leaderships with others while supporting and promoting each individual development.

The assignment question had stated that leaders need not pay attention to the theoretical aspects of leadership; instead, it is the application of leadership that is of utmost importance. The concept of transactional leadership was brought about in the 1970s. Burns (1978) had defined transactional leadership from traditional views of workers and organisations, and it involves the position power of the leader to use followers for task completion. This is almost similar to the current managerial functions, whereby the only concern is to get a task completed, and not staff motivation and a common goal.

It is true that the accurate practice of leadership supersedes basic hard facts and theoretical concepts. Leaders are also innovators, and they are expected to think and act differently, using innovation and personal values to help guide their actions, instead of following textbook solutions (Klagge, 1997). However, what they need, instead of hard facts is a clear policy on their leadership path, and apparent understanding on the organisation’s goals, objectives, mission and vision. Without vision and values that support the organisational structures of the future, people may not be equipped to make decisions in line with that structure. The deficiency of policies and procedure for the conduct of the leaders requires the use of personal judgement, and people base their judgement on their paradigms.

Leadership should be looked at as a process (Drath & Palus, 1994), whereby, instead of focusing on a leader and his or her followers, they suggest studying the social process that happens with groups of individuals who are affianced in a task together. In conclusion, leadership is the process of coordinating efforts and moving together as a group. This group may include a leader and they can be distinguished by traditional leadership theories as their followers in this case, are not directed or dominated to do their work, instead, they are motivated to steer the organisation towards a common goal. This way, everyone, including the followers has been active participants in the leadership process, and is somewhat leaders themselves.


In Part B of this assignment, the discussion evolves around the fundamental constituents, which are the leadership competencies that makes one a good managerial leader. After a brief critique on the terms ‘competency’ and ‘competencies’, the following section will encompass the findings of the primary research conducted to unveil the competencies required by managerial leaders in general and those in the Bank. The results obtained will be compared to other readings, in terms of similarities and disparities. The tying-in of the findings with the organisation (in terms of goals, industry and strategy) will be done in the finale of this segment.


The term ‘competencies’ has been used in various different views, from schools to psychologists. Till today, there is not common definition for the term competency (Jubb and Rowbotham, 1997). Strebler et. al. (1997) in his study ‘Getting the Best Out of Your Competency’ has defined competency to refer to the meaning expressed as the minimum standards of performance. This definition only regards the term as an indicator of performance, and does not describe it in the context of a person’s proficiency.

Other management writers have defined competencies within the same context as observable performance (Bowden and Masters, 1993), the standard or quality of the outcome of the person’s performance (Rutherford, 1995) and a definition derived in the 80s focused individually as the ‘underlying attributes of a person’ (Boyatzis, 1982).

During the interviews conducted, assistant managers and managers were asked to define the term competency, and the most generic answer would be: ‘skills’ and ‘what one is good at’. Taking into consideration the primary and secondary research findings, in the author’s own words, competencies could be defined as ‘one’s skills and attributes that is of importance to uphold organisational performance and meet its strategic objectives’.


Leadership competencies are necessary for every manager, but each may have their own assets and Achilles’ heels. Thorn (2002) has classified competencies into several categories, namely, leadership, analytical thinking, decision-making, building relationships, strategic planning and emotional intelligence. Emiliani (2003) has detailed the competency model of a top Fortune 100 company, which only has four main categories, that is, leadership, business acumen, communications and personal, each with its own explicit functions. For example, under the leadership category falls the relating competencies such as teamwork, strategic leadership, developing talents, customer focus and results driven.

Morden (1997) in his paper ‘Leadership as Competence’ has identified seven (7) key areas that serve as primary required competencies for managerial leaders, which are, personal traits and qualities, time management, maintaining the best style of leadership, identifying and developing potential, motivating and providing inspiration, paying attention to detail and managing core competences.

Peters and Austin (1986) has referred to effective leadership as management by wandering around (MBWA). This MBWA framework consists of 6 main elements- beliefs, master of two ends of a spectrum (solving the most complex problems, and paying attention to mundane level of details), creator of effective working culture, promoter of the organisational culture, mastermind of departmental or organisational vision and being a team player.

Gathering the information from all the models above, it seemed that there were heaps of competencies that are relevant for a capable managerial leader. However, it is impractical to expect managerial leaders to possess all skills that are outlined by academicians and practitioners, before recognising them as capable leaders. The ideal assessment would be to determine if the managerial leaders embraces the most essential skills required.

In a survey conducted by a company called Super Solutions was published in a Business 2 Business magazine in October 2003. The sample size for this survey was 5,000 executives, they were asked on their choices on critical management talents. The top ten lists of the most important competencies were:

1. Integrity

2. Ethics

3. Customer service

4. Accountability

5. Persistence (when faced with adversities)

6. Interpersonal skills

7. Building effective teams

8. Business Knowledge

9. Coping skills (working under stressful conditions)

10. Dealing with ambiguity

As such, to meet the objective of this assignment, it only seemed sensible to adapt to Thorn’s (2002) ideology of classifying the competencies in accordance to several categories. The numerous readings and investigation points to settling for four (4) main groupings for competencies as pointed out by Emiliani (2003), which are:

? Leadership skills

? Business acumen

? Communication skills

? Personal traits


The assignment required a study to be conducted on the competencies required by managerial leaders in general, and those in a chosen organisation. The organisation selected for the purpose of this study is the Bank . The Bank has now opened several Group Service Centres (GSCs) across the world, namely in countries like China, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Malaysia. The research was conducted in the Bank’s GSC in Malaysia. Being just over two-years old, the GSC is now working towards striking a balance between managing its business and providing the best to their employees. Its vision is to be the leading service centre for the entire Group by year 2010.

To understand what most professionals thought about the competencies that leaders should have, in general and in the Bank and deliberation over the secondary research materials, a questionnaire was derived. This sample size for this survey was 50. After much deliberation, 20 competencies were short-listed, and a questionnaire was derived which is as in the table below. The respondents were made to choose 10 competencies which are of utmost importance to managers in general and choose another 10 competencies for managers in the Bank.

Competencies Best Describes a Managerial Leader in General Qualities Most Important for Your Line Manager


? Teamwork

? Developing talent

? Accountability

? Results-driven

? Disciplinarian


? Product knowledge

? Business innovation

? Forward thinking

? Business judgement

? Analytical thinking


? Sharing of Information

? Flexible personality

? Listening skills

? Excellent verbal and written language

? High energy & enthusiasm


? Compassionate

? Motivator

? Honest

? Loyal

? Adaptability

FINDINGS- Competencies for Managerial Leaders in General

Based on the response received from the primary research, the ten most important competencies managerial leaders generally are expected to reveal the following in order of precedence:

1. Teamwork

2. Motivator

3. Honest

4. Product Knowledge

5. Results driven

6. Sharing of information

7. Forward thinking

8. Accountability

9. Excellent verbal and written skills

10. Developing Talent & Adaptability

The results of the survey has been summarised in a graphical format as displayed in the following pages:

Graph 1: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in general under the Leadership Skills category

Graph 2: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in general under the Business Acumen category

Graph 3: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in general under the Communication Skills category

Graph 4: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in general under the Personal Traits category

FINDINGS- Competencies for Managerial Leaders in the Bank

The survey had indicated four glaring issues:

? Primary importance was paid to the leadership skills, business acumen, and communication skills

? Personal traits such as being compassionate or loyal are the least important competencies for a managerial leader in the Bank

? The most important competencies as agreed by over 80% of the respondents are team work, product knowledge, high energy and enthusiasm

? 91% of the respondents did not agree that being a disciplinarian is an important leadership quality.

The ten most important competencies managerial leaders in the Bank generally are expected to reveal the following in order of precedence:

1. Product knowledge

2. Teamwork

3. High energy and enthusiasm

4. Flexible personality

5. Business innovation

6. Results driven

7. Accountability

8. Excellent verbal and written communication skills

9. Motivator

10. Honest

These findings were also supplemented with face-to-face interviews with several of the respondents, who claimed that as the GSC is a very new establishment, the company requires people who are highly experienced and of strong leadership qualities. This would be essential competencies that could help guide the company towards its missions and vision. The results of the survey has been summarised in a graphical format as displayed below.

Graph 5: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders under the Leadership Skills category

Graph 6: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in the Bank under the Business Acumen category

Graph 7: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in the Bank under the Communication Skills category

Graph 8: Survey results for the importance of the five competencies chosen for

managerial leaders in the Bank under the Personal Skills category


It has been stressed to the respondents to compare the competencies from regular managerial leaders in comparison to what is currently required in the Bank. This has showed several stark contrasts in their responses. A manager in general is expected to prioritise teamwork and subsequently taking the role of a motivator to keep the team going. However managers in the bank are expected to pay a big magnitude of their attention toward developing and polishing their product knowledge in the banking arena, and teamwork comes a close second.

A major difference in both lists of competencies are that being honest is of primary importance to managers in general, but for the managers in the Bank, it is only in the 10th ranking. Similarly, being a motivator was placed in the 9th rank. Managers in the Bank claim that the primary importance is motivating their team using team work and a great deal of enthusiasm. This is usually done by organising a monthly Rewards & Recognition for all front-line staff as a form of appreciation.

The Bank managers claim that forward thinking was not a major competency for them, as most of the businesses are still being migrated from other countries to Malaysia. As such, foreseeing where the company will be even in the next one-year is quite a challenge for the middle management as it is totally dependent on the success of a process migration.

Being at its growth stage, it is extremely important for the Bank to adopt a competency or skills management framework in order to juggle between their current resources and the incoming projects from various different regions. In any organisation, it is indeed a challenge to implement such leadership based initiatives, as there may be difficulties in shaping the behaviour of the current managers. The same may apply to the Bank. Kakabadse et. al. (1998) has pointed out that the radicals were usually the youngest (between 26-35 years old), the team players were the oldest, (50 years and above), while the bureaucrats were between (36-49 years). Older workers are more mature as they have the understanding that such initiatives are for the betterment of the company.

In conclusion, identifying these competencies and taking competencies or skills managements seriously has many plus points. The capability to assess competencies and determine skills gaps enables the Bank to implement more cost-effective and meaningful training and development practices for new entrants and existing staff, whilst determining changes in individual and team performance. Most importantly, an organisation that prioritises competencies management will always be able to keep close tabs on their staffs’ performance, and will be able to select the candidate which suits a task almost perfectly.


1. Bass, B. M. (1985), “Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations”, New York, Free Press.

2. Bernard, L. (1926) “An Introduction to Social Psychology”, New York, NY

3. Bowden, J. Masters, G. (1993), “Implications for Higher Education of a Competency-Based Approach to Education & Training”, AGPS, Canberra

4. Boyatzis, R. (1982), “The Competent Manager- A Model for Effective Performance”, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY

5. Burns, J. M. (1978), “Leadership”, New York, Harper and Row

6. Changing Minds:

Available at:


Accessed on: 12th April 2005

7. Dumaine, B. (1990) “Who Needs A Boss?” Fortune, pp.52-60

8. Emiliani, M. L. (2003) “Linking Leaders’ Beliefs to Their Behavious and Competencies”, Management Decision, Vol. 41 (9), pp. 893-910.

9. Frohman, M. (1995) “Nothing Kills Teams like Ill-Prepared Leaders”, Industry Week, pp,72-76

10. Horner, M. (1997) “Leadership- Past, Present & Future”, Team Performance Management, Vol. 3 (4), pp. 270-287

11. Jubb, R., Robotham, D. (1997), “Competences in Management Development; Challenging the Myths” Journal if European Industrial Training, Vol 21 (5), pp.171-175

12. Kakabadse, A. Kakabadse, N. Myers, A. (1998) “Demographics and Leadership Philosophy: Exploring the Gender Differences”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 17 (5), oo. 351-88

13. Klagge, J. (1997) “Leadership Development Needs of Today’s Organisational Managers” Leadership and Organisation Development Journal, Vol. 18 (7), pp.355-362.

14. LCM (1999)- Leadership Competency Model used by a US-based Fortune 100 company from 1994 to 2003

15. Maccoby, M. (2000), “Understanding the Difference Between Management and Leadership, Research Technology Management, Vol. 43 (1), pp. 57-59

16. Peters, T. Austin, N. (1986) “A Passion for Excellence” Fontana, London

17. Rutherford, P. (1995), “Competency Based Assessment” Pitman, Melbourne

18. Saal, F. Knight, P. (1988), “Industrial/Organisational Psychology: Science and Practice”, Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks

19. Strebler, M. Robinson, D. Heron, P. (1997) “Getting the Best Out of Your Competencies”, Institute of Employment Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton

20. Thorn, M. (2002), “Leadership in International Organisations: Global Leadership Competencies”, Available at:


Accessed on: [14th April 2005]


The Differences between Managers and Leaders:

Subject Leader Manager

Essence Change Stability

Focus Leading people Managing work

Have Followers Subordinates

Seeks Vision Objectives

Detail Sets direction Plans detail

Power Personal charisma Formal authority

Appeal to Heart Head

Energy Passion Control

Dynamic Proactive Reactive

Persuasion Sell Tell

Style Transformational


Exchange Excitement for work Money for work

Risk Takes risks Minimises risks

Rules Breaks rules Makes rules

Conflict Uses conflict Avoids conflict

Direction New roads Existing roads

Blame Takes blame Blames others

Source: http://changingminds.org/disciplines/leadership/articles/manager_leader.htm


Name: Position:

This questionnaire serves as partial fulfilment of a Masters in Business Administration programme, in the field of Leadership Development. The objective of this study is to determine the competencies managerial leaders are supposed to have in general and the competencies that you believe are necessary for managerial leaders in this company. Please ONLY tick 10 competencies for each category.

Competencies Category 1

Best Describes a Managerial Leader in General Category 2

Qualities Most Important for Your Line Manager


? Teamwork

? Developing talent

? Accountability

? Results-driven

? Disciplinarian


? Product knowledge

? Business innovation

? Forward thinking

? Business judgement

? Analytical thinking


? Sharing of Information

? Flexible personality

? Listening skills

? Excellent verbal and written language

? High energy & enthusiasm


? Compassionate

? Motivator

? Honest

? Loyal

? Adaptability

If required, please feel free to attach your additional comments via Lotus Notes email, to supplement the basis for these rankings. Thank you very much for contributing some of your precious time to support this academic research. Your feedback is earnestly appreciated.


Results for Competencies Relevant to Managerial Leaders in General


Teamwork 42

Developing Talent 28

Accountability 32

Results driven 35

Disciplinarian 21


Product Knowledge 37

Business Innovation 23

Forward thinking 33

Business Judgement 18

Analytical Thinking 20


Sharing of Information 34

Flexible Personality 18

Listening Skills 24

Excellent Verbal & Written information 32

High energy & enthusiasm 25


Compassionate 8

Motivator 42

Honest 35

Loyal 14

Adaptability 28

Results for Competencies Relevant to Managerial Leaders in the Bank


Teamwork 41

Developing Talent 11

Accountability 32

Results driven 35

Disciplinarian 6


Product Knowledge 44

Business Innovation 35

Forward thinking 27

Business Judgement 17

Analytical Thinking 20


Sharing of Information 25

Flexible Personality 38

Listening Skills 14

Excellent Verbal & Written information 33

High energy & enthusiasm 40


Compassionate 5

Motivator 29

Honest 28

Loyal 11

Adaptability 19

Thanks for your opinion!
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