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Management and Leadership Processes

John Kotter, in his 1990 book, “A Force for Change — How Leadership Differs from Supervision/Management,” draws a distinction between management and leadership. He summarizes the classic supervision/management processes as follows:

  1. Planning and Budgeting — setting targets or goals for the future, typically the next month or year; establishing detailed steps for achieving those targets, steps that might include timetables and guidelines; and then allocating resources to accomplish those plans
  2. Organizing and Staffing — establishing an organizational structure and set of jobs for accomplishing plan to hose people, delegating responsibility for carrying out the plan, and establishing systems to monitor implementation
  3. Controlling and Problem-solving — monitoring results versus plan in some detail, both formally and informally, by means of reports, meetings, etc; identifying deviations, which are usually called “problems,” and then planning and organizing to solve problems

Kotter then goes on to summarize what he considers to be important leadership processes:

  1. Establishing Direction — developing a vision of the future, often that distance future, along with strategies for producing the changes needed to achieve that vision
  2. Aligning People — communication the direction to those whose cooperation may be needed so as to create coalitions that understand the vision and that are committed to its achievement
  3. Motivating and Inspiring — keeping people moving in the right direction despite major political, bureaucratic, and resource barriers to change by applying to very basic, but often untapped, human needs, values, and emotions

Among the appeals of Kotter’s approach are his emphasis on leadership and his attempt to explain both what leadership involves and how it differs from supervision/management.


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