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Succession Management: Are all managers leaders?

Succession Management: Are all managers leaders?

In an organisation, there can be leaders that aren’t managers and managers that aren’t leaders but in modern society, organisations should be employing managers that can lead their subordinates at each level of the organisation and by employing successful succession management to equip employees with potential for management positions to be leaders.

There are a few differences between leaders and managers. The goal should be to employ managers that are leaders throughout all levels of the organisation.

Leaders vs Managers?

A leader is someone that motivates and inspires people to work together and align to achieve a common purpose. Leaders set a directive and create change in an organisation.

A manager performs the functions of management and managers the change created by leaders and deals with complexities within the organisation. The functions of management are planning, organising, leading and control.

Leading and management in an organisation share one thing in common – they both aim to achieve a specific purpose through others.

The 4 management functions and leadership

Planning: A manager implements and creates strategic plans to achieve organisational objectives and set goals to figure out the best way to achieve new strategy and direction for the organisation. A leader needs to plan to align people, culture and values in order to achieve these objectives and goals.

Organising: This task leads to the development of the organisational structure which serves as a guideline for employees to understand how activities in the organisation are divided and how resources are allocated. A leader is able to organise people and resources by dealing with change accordingly, finding new opportunities and capitalising on the strengths of the organisation.

Leading: This is “a social process of influencing people to work voluntarily, enthusiastically and persistently towards a purposeful group or organisational goal.” Managers are able to lead by having a vision and inspiring people to work toward achieving that vision. Managers that are leaders are able to choose other leaders that buy-in to their vision and lead their own subordinates in the direction of that same vision.

Control: This management function makes sure that the organisation is on the right course to achieve its goals for the organisation and implement corrective action when plans are steering off course. Managers that are also leaders are able to control human resources more effectively as people are more willing to be controlled by a great leader. Leaders are also able to communicate gaps in actual and targeted performance while maintaining respect from their subordinates and creating change to achieve performance standards.

John W. Gardner identifies 9 tasks of leadership:

If you want the managers in your organisation to be effective leaders, here are some of the tasks they should be able to complete as stated by John W. Gardner

  1. Envisioning Goals: Leaders have visions which they share with and are able to translate this vision into objectives that need to be achieved in order to obtain a vision or goal.
  2. Affirming Values: Leaders ensure everyone knows what the values of an organisation are by behaving in a way that expresses these values.
  3. The Regeneration of Values: Leaders need to create an awareness and appreciation of values in an organisation. They need to remind people of these values and revitalise shared values and beliefs. Leaders also need to stay on top of changes in their environment and ensure that values are aligned.
  4. Motivating: In order for all employees to work toward a vision and ultimate goal, they need to be motivated to do so. Whether it is money, family, security, work success or acknowledgement that motivates employees, without a job they would not be able to achieve any of these. Leaders know how to motivate their employees in a way that means something to them.
  5. Managing: This means carrying out the 4 functions of management as a leader.
  6. Achieving Workable Unity: This is not only workable unity within the organisation but also the workable unity of the organisation with its environment by capitalising on opportunities and avoiding threats while knowing what strengths and weaknesses lie within the organisation.
  7. Trust: Organisations function when people trust one another and their motives. A leader creates an environment of trust that enables people to work cohesively and in harmony with one another.
  8. Explaining: Leaders are able to convey messages to employees and alleviate any doubt in policy, practices or procedures.
  9. Serving as a symbol: Corporate culture needs to be implemented by senior management – leaders serve an example of the company beliefs, values and ethics in order for the culture to be realised at all levels of the organisation.

Are your managers, leaders? Do your succession management plans enable you to choose the right candidates for management positions?


  • BJ Erasmus, J. S. S. R.-K., 2013. Introduction to Business Management. 9th ed. Cape Town: Oxford.
  • Gardener, J. W., 1988. The Tasks of Leadership. NASSP Bulletin, 72(510), p. 77.
  • Vrba, M., 2016. Principles of leading. In: M. V. T Brevis, ed. Contemporary Management Principles. Cape Town: Juta, pp. 445-457.
  • Brevis, T., 2016. The Management Process. In: M. V. T Brevis, ed. Contemporary Management Principles. Cape Town: Juta, pp. 28-43.
  • Werner, A., 2011. Leadership and Followership. In: A. Werner, ed. Organisation Behaviour – A contemporary South African Perspective. Third ed. Pretoria: Van Schalk Publishers, pp. 351-379.

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