American Society of Civil Engineers

Differentiating Leadership from Management: An Empirical Investigation of Leaders and Managers

by Shamas-ur-Rehman Toor, Ph.D.

Leadership and Management in Engineering, Vol. 11, No. 4, October 2011, pp. 310-320, (doi:

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Document type: Feature Article
Abstract: There has been a long-standing debate in the literature as to why and how leadership is similar to, or different from, management. Although several scholars have contributed to the debate, there seems to be an absence of pragmatic evidence. Hardly any study that attempts to differentiate leadership from management provides empirical findings. The purpose of the current paper is to begin to cover this research gap. Interviews were conducted with 49 leaders and senior executives in the construction industry of Singapore. The interviewees were asked how they perceived the differences and similarities between leadership and management. Thematic network analysis was used to analyze the interview data. Findings show that there are clear differences between leadership and management on the basis of how leaders and managers define and conceptualize these terms. Leadership and management are different phenomena and processes in which leaders and managers perform varied functions and play different roles in organizations. The study shows that leaders and managers, at least in the construction industry, apply a mix of both leadership and management to perform their daily jobs and fulfill their organizational responsibilities. The findings also echo the many striking overlaps between the roles of leadership and management.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Construction industry

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