Table of Contents:


Mintzberg (2011) indicated that there are conceptual differences between a leader and a manager but questioned the practical difference. In practice, the difference between leaders and managers is not only blurred; the difference is, in practical terms, reasonably inconsequential. A leader provides vision and motivation to accomplish goals, but so do managers. Managers are often considered the people responsible for the accomplishment of technical functions within an organization; managers control and direct the staff to accomplish tasks, managers address various labor issues associated with the employees, and ensure the department goals are aligned with the organizational strategic goals.

While leaders and managers perform similarly, and at times the same tasks, there is a clear difference between the significant functions performed by each role. The combination of the leader/manager reference is one of convenience and perhaps even necessary. Several descriptions help explain what makes a great leader or manager.

The traits approach rests with the identification of innate traits or innate qualities and personality characteristics that make a great leader. The style approach views the leader's behavior as the defining crux of being a manager/leader (Northouse, 2012). The skills approach considers the personal capabilities or skills generally grouped as human, technical, and conceptual capabilities (Northouse, 2012). The situational approach emphasizes the need for the leader to alter the individual style of the leadership to match the situation (Northouse, 2012). While the contingency theory matches the leader to the situation, the path-goal theory of leadership proposes to motivate subordinates to achieve the desired goal (Northouse, 2012). Finally, there are transformational leaders, servant leaders, and authentic leaders with focuses on providing a charismatic approach to delivering a visionary message to the followers to achieve an organizational goal, providing for the primary benefit of the follower instead of the leader, and communicating an authentic message to the followers that are obvious and real in its approach to leadership (Northouse, 2012).

Transformational leadership involves a leader concerned with individual and group influence, emotions, ethical standards, and the importance of each person in the organizations (Northouse, 2012). A servant leader is similar to a transformational leader in that the well-being of the subordinate is of great value to the leader. Transformational, servant, and authentic leaders have a natural style of charisma that allows them to interact on a personal level with subordinates. Authentic leaders are viewed from several perspectives that make them difficult to define (Northouse, 2012). The definitions focus on intrapersonal perspectives (i.e., the positive development of the leader), interpersonal perspectives (i.e., the interrela- tional development of the leader through positive interactions with subordinates), and developmental experiences in the life of the leader resulting in genuine intentions and focus on subordinates because of high ethical standards and compassion (Northouse, 2012).

While leaders are capable of managing their respective organizations, it is unreasonable to assume that all leaders are capable of performing as OD or change practitioners simply because they are in leadership positions. Being a leader does not necessarily make one an organizational development practitioner. However, a leader can learn to become an OD practitioner. Organizational development practitioners must be well versed in understanding the systems dynamics of organizations and the complexities of change within an organization, and this is not common knowledge.

OD practitioners possessing the necessarily advanced education in conducting change initiatives have a significantly better opportunity to manage change than leaders, managers, and executives lacking the OD knowledge (Burke, Church, & Waclawski, 1993). There is a clear indication that specialized training, education, and experiential knowledge are needed to manage change initiatives. Managers are good at managing their organizations, but OD practitioners are better at managing the issues associated with change management.

Organizational culture is the foundation of an organization (Frame, 2013), and any change initiative must consider the culture to be successful. Instilling the motivation and commitment to change within an organization involves more than just requiring the employees to follow the lead of the leader. The culture of the organization is both formal and informal and influences change within an organization. Recognizing and understanding the culture is a critical issue in establishing motivation and commitment within the employee population.

Senge (2006) presents an excellent method to instill motivation and commitment to change through the development of a shared vision. A shared vision is the transition of a personal vision to a shared vision among the organizational members (Senge, 2006). Attempting to implement a change initiative through the sole involvement of leadership is both challenging and likely to fail because the employees do not have a vested interest in the change. Involving the employees at the earliest stage of a project is an excellent way to develop motivation and commitment.

Involving the employees early in the change process is a powerful message to the employees that their involvement is critical to the organization. Organizational learning is an integral part of instilling the concept of acceptable change involvement in an organization (Coughlan, & Rashford, 2006). Involving the employees as partners in establishing and maintaining the welfare of the organization is an excellent method of establishing high motivation and commitment to change.


Burke, W., Church, A., & Waclawski, J. (1993). What do OD practitioners know about managing change? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 14(6), 3-11.

Church, A., Waclawski, J., & Burke, W. (1996). OD practitioners as facilitators of change: An analysis of survey results. Group & Organization Studies (1986- 1998), 21(1), 22-67.

Coughlan, D. & Rashford, N. (2006). Organizational change and strategy: An interlevel dynamics approach. New York, NY: Routledge.

Frame, J. D. (2013). Framing decision: Decision making that accounts for irrationality, people, and constraints. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gharajedaghi, J. (2011). Systems thinking: Managing chaos and complexity: A platform for designing business architecture. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier.

Levy, D., Parco, J. & Blass, F. (2009). The 52nd floor: Thinking deeply about leadership. Montgomery, AL: Enzo Books.

Mintzberg, FI. (2011). Managing. San Francisco, CA: Barrett-Koehler.

Northouse, P. G. (2012). Leadership: Theory and practice. (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Senge, P. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.


1. Planning a New Change Initiative

Your manager has tasked you with developing a plan to develop a crisis management program at your company. You are well versed in crisis management but new to change management. You contact someone in strategic planning that studied organizational development and change. In a brief exchange of emails, your "expert" advises you to learn about the organization. What do you think he meant?

2. Team Building

You are a physical security director tasked with implementing a video surveillance system for the corporate HQ. You want to make sure that the project is a success. You have been advised to identify key personnel to help ensure the change initiative is successful. The most experienced employees are involved in several significant projects. Who do you think should be involved in the project team?

3. Physical Security: Workplace Violence/General Security

As the security manager for a large company, you responsible for improving the physical security of the principal corporate office. The senior leaders have become concerned with workplace violence, and your supervisor has requested a plan to enhance the security of the facility. What are the high-level change issues associated with the project?


< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >