Note: This is an essay I submitted for a leadership seminar in my public administration program.
American institutions in the 20th century opted for meritable hiring practices in the selection of public officials. Although these practices reflected an endorsement of Max Weber’s legal authority, contemporary public administration buys and sells the mystique it once sought to remove from the public sector: charismatic domination.
In contemporary administration, management and leadership are understood as equal in necessity but unequal in virtue. Management is portrayed as a rigid institution of uninspired authority (albeit necessary) while leadership is portrayed as an inspired authority that transcends fundamental administrative duties. This contemporary perspective analogizes managers and leaders to angels and seraphim; managers and angels deal with the everyday business of humans while leaders and the six-winged seraphim carry the throne of God. Their difference is expressed in Peter Drucker’s virtuous aphorism, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” However, popular attitude is captured in Chapter 1 of Denhardt & Denhardt’s The Dance of Leadership:
At its core, leadership is an art, not a science. Without art, leadership is bound to only those solutions that rational analysis and managerial control can provide. Without art, leadership is merely management.
Merely management? Are we to believe that artless managers could unleash their leadership potential if they effectuated some intangible mojo? Given the insights from the Druckers and the Denhardts of the world, it should be no surprise that capable people fail to reach the ostensible heights of leadership, because public administration is preaching magic.
A review of the scholarly literature supports the previous quotes by placing management and leadership as unequal contenders. Articles with the conjunctive “versus” and the antecedent “differences between” reap thousands of citations. Articles identifying “similarities” do not enjoy such fecundity; they produce tens of citations.
A review of popular media in the forms of self-help programs, listicles, and books reflect branches of Drucker, Bennis, and Barnard. For brevity’s sake, the connections between these writers and popular leadership will not be described. Nevertheless, with Robert K. Greenleaf, Jim Collins, and Steven Covey as contemporaries of the mid 20th century leadership philosophers, we start to see a pattern: the literature (including content writers on corporate websites) are written almost entirely by tall white males. This doesn’t mean that tall white males have produced an invalid canon; it means that the canon of contemporary leadership has yet to be written. The persistence of physically similar executives undermines the saying “leaders are made not born.” I must ask, when we aspire to be leaders, are we actually aspiring to be tall white males? When will we write the rest of the perspective?
Before this course, my relationship with leadership indicated an agreement with contemporary attitudes toward the theories and practices of management and leadership, but this paper draws a philosophical line in the administrative sand. Management and leadership are two sides to the same coin: administration. Hereafter, I will refer to administration as the singular form of management and leadership when appropriate. Moving forward, I will discuss managers and leaders as fulfillers of organizational processes.
Management and leadership are designations for deductive and inductive organizational processes. Together, they are administration. The deductive process is management. The inductive process is leadership. They harmoniously and cyclically produce distinct awarenesses: the organization’s sensation and perception of itself and its environment. (The sections on how organizations sense and perceive themselves and their environments through management and leadership have been removed from this paper).
The deductive process of administration is management. By using prior generalizations, management seeks (empirically or not) measurable outcomes that either validate or invalidate organizational hypotheses. Clipboard or iPad in hand, managers are experimental workers who hone-in on the specific data that they are trained to believe are the indicators of past, present, and future considerations. They document inputs, outputs, performance, efficiency, projections, deliverables, etc. Then, they report their findings to the organization as job performance evaluations, financials, quarterlies, recommendations, etc.
The inductive process of administration is leadership. Leadership seeks (empirically or not) observable facts, events, or patterns to form future hypotheses. By working in teams and intense communication, leadership works in the hypothetical. They focus chaos into generalizations. From these broad understandings, leadership uses figurative language, symbols, and values to establish a premise in which future experimentation is made.
Management tests the hypothesis; leadership sets the hypothesis. Together, through experiment and inquiry, they form the organization’s theory that posits how and why the organization exists. (The section titled The Theory of the Organization was edited from this paper).
Functionally speaking, management tests hypotheses and reports results. Leadership observes and describes hypotheses. When experimental conclusions show deviation from the organization’s hypotheses, administrative tools are available to make needed adjustments (to name a few: increasing control over organizational variables, program evaluations, setting new hypotheses, replacing personnel, etc.). Continuous experimentation is a shared function of managers and leaders. Cyclically, they fortify the organization’s theory upon success, and they modify the organization’s theory upon failure.
What does this mean for contemporary organizational theory? The management class in organizational hierarchies needs review, because a fallacy is at play. Management is the only class to occupy its own tier with its own type of worker (from the executives, managers, and workers model). If this were logically sound, then we could find a comfortable place for leaders. According to contemporary administration, the leaders would ascend managers. However, not all executives are leaders; some require management or a blend of management and leadership. Furthermore, leadership can be found in all classes of the organization as it is not an inherent attribute of executives. Think of the tenured, lowly worker who advises top brass on the “big picture.” If not a fallacy, this must be a paradox in contemporary organizational theory. To remedy this, we must remove managers from the pyramid.
Case management is an example of our dilemma. Are case managers workers or managers? If case managers are classified as management, then their subordinates are whom? Are their clients de facto workers? These questions lead to suppositional and conflicting models, because contemporary organizational theory assigns managers to their own class. To simplify organizational theory, case managers have to be classified as deductive workers who fulfill managerial processes. Their counterparts, peer navigators, are inductive workers who fulfill leadership processes.When executive and worker classes compose the organizational pyramid, either class can share management and leadership attributes without creating a confusing tier in which a specific role monopolizes deductive administration. In other words, management and leadership are not prescriptions for specific roles; they are descriptions of functions that are fulfilled by all members of the organization. Yes, the worker is a leader or a manager. Yes, the executive is a leader or a manager. So where did this manager class come from? (The section on The Rise and Fall of the Conceptual Manager Class has been removed).