John P. Kotter’s article titled “What Leaders Really Do” is focused on explaining the roles of leaders and managers. He believes that ideas of leaders being mystical figures that mostly operate using their charisma are preventing people from having a proper perspective on their role. Kotter describes the responsibilities of managers and leaders and finds that their interaction can be beneficial to the dynamics of the group.
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One of the main ideas of the article was to demystify the roles of leaders and managers. Kotter argues that not only do both of them have to work together, but they should not occupy different places in the hierarchy of a company. He writes that leadership is focused on change. A good leader should press for change and prepare the organization for it. A leader creates a vision for the company and develops strategies required for implementation of the vision. Then they explain new vision and strategies to people who can create groups of informed people ready to begin working on the plan. During the implementation, a leader makes sure to keep people on the right track by motivating them by satisfying their needs.
Kotter describes managers as people who deal with complexity and try to provide stability. After leaders create a vision, managers create a plan with targets and goals for the near future and allocate the required resources necessary to this plan. Then they create an organizational structure that should be able to achieve the required goals of the plan. Also, managers monitor the implementation of the plan and the results provided by the team. If there are any deviations, they need to plan how to resolve them.
Kotter proposes that organizations that focus on both roles equally can achieve much greater success. He accentuates that companies should develop people who can become leader-managers. These people usually had a leadership experience during their early career, show an interest in a broader range of assignments, and formed a vast network of relationships inside and outside of the company.
Relation to Group Dynamics
Kotter’s article covers a variety of concepts and theories related to group dynamics. He provides a multilevel perspective on the work of groups and the roles of leader and manager. He finds that group dynamics could benefit from the delegation of managerial tasks between the members of the group who show aptitude towards management. His ideas of group formation can relate to ideas of managing a task force but with a larger emphasis on task delegation between the manager and the group. While talking about leadership, he touches upon the importance of motivation of the group. Facilitation of the positive group mood is similar to Jennifer George’s theory of group affective tone. His position on the role of managers relates to the systems theory approach due to its focus on dealing with complex groups of people. Group level inputs are also shown to be highly significant in the roles of both leader and manager because the clarity of the vision and goals are essential for proper function of the organization.
Leaders and managers are often separated by strict hierarchical boundaries within companies. This article shows that separating them is not beneficial to the company and does not facilitate good group dynamics. On the other hand, cooperation between them can lead a company even during the most turbulent times.