As Army officers navigate their careers, they learn about leadership in professional development courses and through on-the-job experiences. They also learn about management based on their requirements to complete workplace projects.
It is key for Army officers to understand, apply and balance the art and science of managing and leading in their organizations early in their careers.
Leadership and management are complementary processes, and both are necessary. Good leaders do management, and good managers do leadership. The terms “leader” and “manager” are often confused and inaccurately used interchangeably. High-reliability organizations need leaders with sufficient management expertise and effective managers who possess adequate leadership skills.
According to Field Manual 3-0: Operations, good leaders are catalysts for success. American business magnate John Rockefeller said good managers ensure success, and good management consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.
As officers advance in their careers and take on increasing responsibility, they earn more rank, reflecting their potential for future success. When they reach the executive-level organizational leader role, they must build upon their leadership and management experiences and develop and hone skill sets focused on the leadership domains. The inability to distinguish between management and leadership skill sets can be a critical gap in the officer’s knowledge as they prepare to become an executive organizational leader.
Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22: Army Leadership and the Profession identifies three leadership levels: direct, organizational and strategic. The scope and span of influence and control exerted by the leader’s position indicates their functional leadership level. NCOs, company grade officers and civilians typically serve at the direct leadership level, focused at the individual, one-on-one and small-group levels. Examples of direct leadership employment are counseling sessions with individuals, overseeing maintenance on squad-level vehicles, and conducting training one-on-one or in a small group.
Senior NCOs, field-grade officers and senior civilians serve at the organizational level, working with systems and processes in battalion- through corps-sized elements.
General officers and senior executive service civilians operate at the strategic level, where they influence global, regional or national interests in major commands or at DoD levels. Army officers develop their understanding of the three leadership levels through education in the three training domains.
There are three training domains within the education process to gain the knowledge needed to function at appropriate levels of leadership. These domains are institutional (training in schools and through distance learning), operational and self-development. Institutional training and education include the foundational occupational knowledge required for officers and courses on being a soldier and an officer. Approximately every five years, Army officers attend hierarchical professional military education (PME), including leadership training, as they progress through the ranks. The PME for Army officers begins with precommissioning institutional training and moves along the continuum to the primary level (Basic Officer Leadership Course and Captains Career Course). The next steps in the continuum are the intermediate level (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College), the senior level (Senior Service College), culminating with general/flag officer training. Officers may embrace leadership self-development at their own pace.
Army officers can also learn from on-the-job training that varies depending on the locations and missions of their organizations. This self-development and training reveal a critical understanding of an organization’s purpose and “why.”
Despite this organized training, gaps in understanding may still exist. The lack of formal and experiential training and insight into the differences between leadership and management and the skills associated with those roles cause a gap in an officer’s preparation for leadership roles at the executive level. To bridge the gap, Army officers must be able to define the roles of leader and manager as well as achieve an understanding of the roles managers and leaders play.
Managers and Leaders
A manager is charged with enabling task execution or subsets of an organization. Managers have the knowledge to achieve the end state envisioned by the leader of their organization. Managers carry out the mission and oversee the change process by monitoring resources and measuring outcomes.
The role of the leader is to inspire and influence people by providing purpose. One can distinguish leaders from managers by recognizing that leaders possess a strategic outlook as well as a mission and vision for an organization.
Leaders are visionaries, catalysts for change, and devote attention to building trust in relationships with the organization’s people. Leaders recognize the need for policy, and the manager implements and supports the leader’s policy.
It is essential to differentiate between leadership and management functions in an organization. Leadership brings balance to the organization by engaging and recognizing the people performing the work. Therefore, focusing more concertedly on leadership is the preferred method at the executive organizational level while management conducts the business. However, the ideal concept is the right mix of leadership and management in an organization.
Management is a functioning process that controls and synchronizes internal structures, processes, procedures and systems.
Management is outcome focused. It requires measuring productivity, directing work, advancing projects and monitoring deadlines. Effective management involves technical skills, proficiency within a particular kind of work, social skills, the ability to work with people, conceptual skills and ability to work with ideas.
Leadership is the activity of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. Leadership begins with the communication of a vision that takes the organization to the next level.
Those in leadership are focused on the people who accomplish the mission. The leader motivates, builds effective and cohesive teams, and uplifts others through words and actions that inspire their followers. The leader applies the art of empowering others to act by underwriting actions that lead to progress and development.
The leadership position legitimizes a manager’s authority, and they influence others by transactional means in a reward and reinforcement approach.
It is important for Army officers to know the similarities and differences of the roles of leaders and managers and their positions in leadership and management. Officers will have the opportunity to serve at the full spectra of leadership and management. It is important for them to understand, apply and balance the art and science of managing and leading in their organizations early in their careers. This will enable Army officers to best utilize their talents for mission accomplishment.
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Lt. Col. Amelia Duran-Stanton is chief of the Ready and Resilient Integration Branch and deputy surgeon at Headquarters, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. She has deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. She holds a doctor of philosophy degree in postsecondary/adult education and a doctor of science degree in physician assistant studies (orthopedics).
Col. Amy Jackson is commander of Keller Army Community Hospital, West Point, New York. She has deployed to Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a candidate for a doctor of medical science degree for physician assistants at the University of Lynchburg, Virginia.