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  • 2020/05/01

Does the manager have to be a leader ?

With the advent of collaborative digital tools, the development of teleworking and the ever-increasing aspirations for mobility, organizations must constantly evolve, especially with regard to the managerial methods deployed to achieve performance. Not only does the manager have to adapt to these developments but also, to a certain extent, he must anticipate them. In addition to his role, he is to retain talents and attract new ones, which leads him to have to position himself as a leader.

In any organization, there are managers and leaders. Leaders base their authority on their ability to influence others. Conceptually, they are to be distinguished from managers, who occupy formal positions of leader of a team or of a larger group, functions which are at the source of their power and their legitimacy.

If the term “manager” finds its etymological origin in the old French “mesnager”, its current use in organizational theory refers more to the English verb from which it comes, “to manage”, which means “to manage”. The manager is the one who "manages" all or part of a given organization, by organizing the work and supporting the members working within his perimeter of responsibility. The manager is therefore the one who formally exercises power in the organization. The term "leader" also comes from an English verb, "to lead", which means "to lead", in this case of people. The leader is the one who brings together people in the service of a goal, a vision. He exercises power in the organization informally, through his charisma or personal authority.

The question therefore arises as to whether the manager must necessarily be a leader to carry out his missions.

In order to answer, let's first study the characteristics and roles of the leader and the manager within organizations, then analyze the correlations between the latter.

As mentioned above, the manager within organizations derives his positioning from his formal function, from which derive responsibilities and a power which give him an authority recognized as legitimate by the other members of the organization for which he is responsible. Its mission is to lead and pilot the organization, and can, to do so, adopt various management methods including:

- Directive management, calling on the formal authority of the manager
- Persuasive management, by appealing to its ability to convince and influence, making the manager a true leader
- Participatory management, by appealing to its ability to create a framework conducive to collaboration with the other members of its organization
- Delegative management, appealing to its ability to accept that certain tasks be carried out independently by the members of its team

These different management methods are used by managers depending on the contexts and situations they face, and will help to qualify him or not as a leader.

One of the motivating factors - and therefore performance - at work is having an emblematic and charismatic manager who can be a role model. However, this calls on the characteristics of the leader which allow him to influence others and unite them around him. The leader has no legitimate responsibilities and power over others, but thanks to his abilities he is recognized by his peers who de facto establish him as a leader and give him a form of authority. This results in the ascendant and moral responsibility of the leader over the team or organization.

Contrary to the Taylorist vision, the manager sometimes adopts the role of the leader within organizations to steer, guide and influence his team. Members of organizations are demanding more and more autonomy. Thus, abusing formal authority can lead the manager to conflicting situations with his team. It is therefore essential for the manager to be a leader. Using your leadership qualities to influence your team does not take away from the manager's prerogatives and powers. The latter can demonstrate authority when necessary, for example to sanction or give a directive.

The need for the manager to have the attributes of a leader varies greatly depending on the type of organization considered. In a professional bureaucracy, whose members are supposed to be relatively equivalent in terms of skills, the legitimacy of the manager will strongly depend on his charisma and his natural authority. The same is true in a missionary type organization: it functions by definition thanks to the charisma of the leader, to his personal capacity to train the organization in the service of a mission or values. Conversely, in a mechanistic organization or an adhocracy, the formal attributes of power may in themselves be sufficient to cause the organization to follow the manager's instructions.

Finally, a final line of thought, linked to the previous one, concerns the structure of the organization's internal processes, and more specifically HR processes. If the manager has a lot of leeway to get his team to follow his instructions (for example with regard to his power of evaluation and the impact of this on remuneration), having the attributes of the leader can be beneficial but not essential to the success of its mission. Conversely, if the processes are highly centralized and place little demand on the manager, the manager will have to rely on the attributes of the leader to succeed in his mission. If he does not have them, his chances of success can quickly be compromised.

It is therefore essential to separate the manager, who is a well-defined function within organizations, and the leader, who is a quality that the manager may have in order to carry out his missions. Thus, depending on the culture of the organization, the nature of its mission, the context, etc., the manager may also be a leader. This is more and more widespread but is by no means an obligation for the manager who can use his legitimate power over the organization to carry out his missions. Thus, the question of whether the manager must have the attributes of a leader to succeed in his mission varies according to the hierarchical position of the manager, the type of organization in which he operates, and his role in the processes. Either way, while the attributes of the leader are beneficial to the manager, and even essential in some cases, they cannot be enough. The manager must in fact justify his authority (or legitimize his formal power) by a wider range of skills. These can come from its experience, its technical expertise, or its sectoral knowledge. This range of skills - often specific to each one - and its adequacy with the context in which the manager operates is the key to his success in his mission.



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