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Management article
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Reference no. R0111F
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2001

Abstract

Leadership is different from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn't mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having charisma or other special personality traits. It's not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it. Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action, argues John Kotter in this article, first published in 1990. Both are necessary for success in today's business environment. Management is about coping with complexity. Its practices and procedures are, for the most part, responses to the emergence of large, complex organizations in the 20th century. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change. Most US corporations today are overmanaged and underled. They need to develop their capacity to exercise leadership. Successful corporations don't wait for leaders to come along. They actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. But while improving their ability to lead, companies should remember that strong leadership with weak management is no better. The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

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Abstract

Leadership is different from management, but not for the reasons most people think. Leadership isn't mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having charisma or other special personality traits. It's not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it. Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action, argues John Kotter in this article, first published in 1990. Both are necessary for success in today's business environment. Management is about coping with complexity. Its practices and procedures are, for the most part, responses to the emergence of large, complex organizations in the 20th century. Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change. Most US corporations today are overmanaged and underled. They need to develop their capacity to exercise leadership. Successful corporations don't wait for leaders to come along. They actively seek out people with leadership potential and expose them to career experiences designed to develop that potential. But while improving their ability to lead, companies should remember that strong leadership with weak management is no better. The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

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