Most Effective Leadership and Management Styles

6 minutes

Leadership and management are actually different concepts and disciplines, nevertheless, there is an overlapping  in the skills they both require (Dusya and Crossan 2016). Prof. Kanosuke Matsushinta from Harvard University (2013) explained the differences in the two concepts as following:

  • Management is more concerned with the processes of running a day-to-day business such as planning, clarifying jobs, quality control and problem-solving
  • Leadership is about “aligning people to the vision”. That involves communicating, motivating and inspiring people to follow an aspiration

To distinguish further amongst the two concepts, we should look at the differences and similarities between leadership and management functions as described in the classical theories and models.

  • In 1916, Henri Fayol created the first principles of the Classical Management Theory. In his view, there are five functions of management which include planning, organizing, coordinating, commanding and controlling (CMI Institute 2012).
  • Meanwhile, John Adair (1973) identified eight functions of leadership. These involve setting goals, planning the task, briefing the team, controlling the results, evaluating the outcomes, motivating individuals, organizing manpower and setting an example (Gosling, Marturano and Dennison 2015). 

These theories imply that even though, both leadership and management functions are important in an organisation, sometimes the boundary between these roles may be difficult to ascertain. Some managers can be effective leaders and vice-versa, but it’s not always the case that good leaders are great managers (Williams 2016). Ratcliffe (2013) argued that even though Winston Churchill (ex. British Prime Minister) was a strong leader, he wasn’t a manager.                                  

To better understand the leadership concept, various theoretical models have been proposed. 

John Adair’s Action-Centered Leadership Model (shown in Figure 1, below) implies that a leader’s effectiveness is measured by effectiveness in the following three areas: accomplishment of a common task needs, accomplishment of team needs and meeting individual team members’ needs. The three needs are represented as overlapping circles in the figure below (Mullins 2010:413).

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.27.19 PM

Figure 1: Action-Centered Model (Source: Constructed based on Mullins 2010:413)

Some of the advantages of Adair’s action-centered model

  • The model is simple and easy to apply in the workplace.
  • It also implies that leadership can be trained rather than being inborn.
  • The list of leadership activities can be linked with Henri Fayol’s classic management functions. For instance, building a team spirit involves leadership while achieving a common task involves management (Mullins 2010:413). 

Criticism of Adair’s Model

Achieving balance among the three main leadership functions is difficult in real-life business context as many leaders tend to prioritise one need above the others.

  • For instance, John Gibbs the CIO of Rolls Royce gets tasks done by encouraging cross-functional teamwork and close relationship with individual staff, whose needs for job sharing support or development of talent he supports (Rossi 2016).
  • On the other side, the former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs was more concentrated on task accomplishment, leaving individual and team needs secondary (Mitchelson 2014).

Transformational Leadership Style

I believe that one of the most efficient approaches to managing the work of subordinates is the transformational leadership style. Within an organization, transformational leaders impact both economic and human transformations as they set visions, missions and goals that inspire employees to work towards achieving them (Givens 2014). Bass and Avolio (1994), have associated the following behaviours with transformational leadership: moral and ethical behaviours, inspirational motivation, encourage critical thinking and innovation, paying attention to individual needs and making decisions for the greater good of society.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 3.23.26 PM.png

Figure 2: Transformational Leadership Traits (Source: Constructed based on Bass and Avolio 1994)

Elon Musk: co-founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX

Figure 3: Elon Musk

Leading by example, Elon Musk is one of the contemporary transformational leaders that I admire most. After the 2008 financial crisis, Musk took the leadership of Tesla Motors where he currently serves as CEO (Forbes 2016). His original vision together with strong dedication, perseverance and hard work (he works 100 hours a week) has transformed the working culture at Tesla Motors (Gregerson and Dyer 2016).  After his takeover, Tesla engineers started working harder to innovate and transformed the automotive industry by introducing electric cars that “go faster and further than other vehicles” (Gregerson and Dyer 2016). In 2016, Forbes recognized his influence as a leader and ranked Musk 34th most powerful man in the world (Forbes 2016).

Steve Jobs: the late CEO of Apple

Figure 4: Steve Jobs

Alike Musk, Steve Jobs was a genius and a visionary leader that transformed a company that was heading towards bankruptcy in 1997 into the most valuable brand in the world in 2011 (Entrepreneur 2011). Under his leadership, he helped transform Apple by introducing a series of revolutionary technologies including the iPad and Iphone amongst others. He spoke with passion, intensity and emotion about his values and beliefs and he also transferred those into Apple’s products he launched (Isaacson 2012).


I agree with the CMI (2013) statement that there is no single ideal leadership style, and approaches vary according to circumstances. As such, it may be difficult to describe leaders by using one style or another, and a combination of styles may be more correct. For example, if the economic and political environment are favourable or at a stable stage, then a leader may find that a managerial approach is more essential than transformational or charismatic leadership ideologies. Conversely, during economic downturn the inspirational leadership style is more essential as leaders have the opportunity to activate people to do something they haven’t done before and push the innovation boundaries; not so much to do something they’ve always been doing well (Ratcliffe 2013).


  1. Gosling, B., Marturano, J. and Dennison, P. (2015) A Review Of Leadership Theory And Competency Framework. Edited Version of a Report for Chase Consulting and the Management Standards Centre. Exeter: Centre for Leadership Studies [online] available from <ça.pdf> [18 October 2016]
  2. Chartered Management Institute (2012) “Henri Fayol
Planning, Organisation, Command, Coordination, Control
Thinker” [online] available from <> [18 October 2016]
  3. Dusya, V. and Crossan, M. (2016) “Strategic Leadership And Organizational Learning”. Academy of Management Review 29 (2), 222-240
  4. Entrepreneur (2011) Steve Jobs: An Extraordinary Career [online] available from <; [19 October 2016]
  5. Forbes (2016) Forbes Top 100 [online] available from <; [19 October 2016]
  6. Givens, R. (2008) “Transformational Leadership: The Impact On Organizational And Personal Outcomes”. Emerging Leadership Journeys 1 (1), 4-21
  7. Isaacson, W. (2012) The Real Leadership Lessons Of Steve Jobs [online] available from <; [18 October 2016]
  8. Michelson, J. (2011) [online] available from <; [18 October 2016]
  9. Mullins L. J. (2010:157-162) ‘Management and Organizational Behaviour’. Ninth Edn. Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Ltd
  10. Pongpearchan, P. (2016) “Effect Of Transformational Leadership On Strategic Human Resource Management And Firm Success Of Toyota’s Dealer In Thailand”. Journal of Business and Retail Management Research [online] 10 (2), 53-55. available from <; [18 October 2016]
  11. Ratcliffe, R. (2013) What’s The Difference Between Leadership And Management? [online] available from <; [18 October 2016].