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Your current organisation has just appointed you as the Human Resource Manager, and the board of directors of the organisation have tasked you to examine the impact of roles of leaders and managers on the operations of the organisation.

You are therefore required to prepare a report for the board which includes the following:

1 Define and compare the different roles and characteristics of leaders and managers.

2 Examine examples of how the role of a leader and the function of a manager apply in different situational contexts in the organisation.

3 Apply different theories and models of approach, including situational leadership, systems leadership and contingency.

P4 Explain the key approaches to operations management and the role that leaders and managers play.

P5 Explain the importance and value of operations management in achieving business objectives.

Difference between a leader and a manager

An organization consist of diversity of people who come from different background have different opinions to achieve goals and objectives of the organization. Many times there are situations when conflict arises due to difference in opinion which may affect the working environment and interrupt the goal achieving process. In order to manage all people working in the organization and to achieve goals and objectives strategically, a leader and a manager plays a very crucial role. Though they both have different roles to play but their ultimate aim is to encourage and motivate individuals to achieve the organization goals.

In today’s world of competition, survival by earning sufficient profits is a myopic thinking. In order to succeed and ensure long term sustainability, having a future vision is very important. A leader sets a strategic vision for an organization to ensure long term growth and profitability of the organization in the market. They make sure that every individual working in an organization believes in their vision and be a strategic contributor in achieving the desire goals of the organization. Leaders provide motivation and acknowledge efforts of individuals in order to increase their performance and productivity.

A manager as the name suggests required managing the organization and utilizing the resources optimally in order to achieve goals (Cielslinska, 2007). The role of manager is significant when it comes to the execution and implementation part. A leader sets the vision, but without the help of an efficient manager it cannot be achieved. A manager ensures that the efforts of every individual are directed strategically into the direction of achieving goal while following the policies and procedures of the organization. Both of them are very important in the organization and they share a common goal of ensuring organization a secure competitive position in the market. But they both have different roles and responsibilities to perform.

  • Leaders for see a bigger picture and create a vision for the long term sustainability of the organization. They know where they want to reach in future and make people believe in their vision. They have the power to think beyond the abilities of normal individuals and engage and inspire each and every individual to achieve the vision. Whereas managers are involved in setting a short term goal and ensure productive efforts of employees towards achieving the goal (Perrin, 2010).
  • Leaders are known to be change agents. They know the importance of innovation as a means to survive in the competitive world. They do not fear challenges and embrace them effectively. On the other hand managers stick to the usual, follow the protocol for the growth of the organization. They are not considered as the change agents (Zaleznik, 2004).
  • Leaders have a proactive approach. They anticipate future challenges and design a strategy to mitigate the effect of such challenges on the organization. They prepare and motivate employees to overcome the tough times. But a manager has a reactive approach. They react according to the situation decide their course of action. Leaders by anticipating difficulties, create a contingency plans which reduces the burden on employees whereas managers react to the situation and their immediate action may create a situation of stress among the employees.
  • Managers are responsible in delegating tasks and responsibilities to their subordinates and in case of any problem; they sometimes shift the blame on their team members. But leaders accept responsibilities of their own actions and their group members. They know that they are accountable for the actions of the people around them and make efforts to fix things up.
  • Leaders are not afraid to take risk. They know risk is an important factor in order for survival and growth in the competitive market but managers are risk averters. They work in order to minimize the risk and problems. They fear failures and think them as a threat to their position and authority in the organization (Wan, 2013).
  • Leaders crave for new learning experience. They are don’t work for rewards or any financial appraisal but in order to fulfill their desire of learning something at the workplace or from the outside the world (Amabile & Khaire, 2008). They know that external environment is dynamic and it keeps on changing, so in order to keep pace with the changes being updated is very important. A manager on the other hand relies on its existing managerial approach and follows the same proven behavior and strategy to achieve goals.
  • Leaders are people oriented. They believe in order to achieve goals, it is very important to build a relationship of trust and loyalty with them. Employee’s welfare is their priority. Managers are goal oriented. They believe in achieving organization and personal goals and objectives (Arruda, 2016).
  • Leaders have followers due to their caring nature towards the people working for them. The followers believe in their vision and put extra efforts in order to achieve the targets. Managers manage the team members and provide them instructions to achieve goals and objectives.

There are times when an organization faces many difficult situations either arising from the external environment or due to conflict in the internal environment of the organization. A leader and a manager have different roles and functions to deal with such challenging situations.

The external environment is very dynamic. It keeps on changing due to the forces of many factors. Entrants of the new competitors, technological changes etc. are some of the most common factors. An organization in order to survive such changes and remain competitive has to follow a course of action as a defense strategy. A leader role is to anticipate such fluctuations in the market and make a contingency plan (Gandz, 2005). A manager on the other hand should ensure effective implementation and execution of such plans within the organization. A manager should also remain available with a backup plan in case of any emergency.

An organization in order to keep up with its competitors has to design some strategies that are very important to survive the competition. They are known as change strategies. Implementing change in the organization is not an easy task. There are many resistances to change but the major factor is employee engagement in implementing such change. There are several factors identified such as fear of adjusting in the changed environment or loss of authority or position after implementation of change etc. (Vioculet, et al, 2010). As a leader they are the ones who initiate changes and communicate to each and every individual working in the organization and motivate people to adapt change (Stagl, 2011). A manager role is to implement the change successfully by managing the both human and financial resource. They should address queries and doubts of employees so that they can become a strategic contributor in implementing the change strategy.

Role of a leader and a manager in different situations

Employees form the backbone of an organization. They are the strategic partners that help an organization to achieve desired goals and objectives. There are times that employees are not performance of the organization in the market. A manager should communicate the goals and objectives of the organization to employees and should provide incentives and reward in order to motivate them to achieve the goals and monitor their performance regularly. Whereas a leader should analyze the reasons behind their unwillingness to work and listen to their concern and acknowledge their efforts so that they feel valued and motivated to achieve the goals of the organization.

Situational leadership: Situational leadership given by Hersey and Blanchard focused on the fact that leadership style is dependent on the situations faced by an organization. There is no standard leadership style that can be applied in all the situations. An effective leader needs to be proactive and adaptable to the situations and focus on achieving goals and objectives. In situation when organization is in change process, a leader should apply selling style of leadership which includes communicating well with the individuals and provide them with necessary support so that they can become an active participant in the change strategy (Vroom & Jago, 2007).

Transactional leadership: In case of situation when there is conflict arises between the employees due to any management issues, it directly affects the performance of the organization. As a leader, an individual should take charge to resolve such conflicts by following a transactional style. It includes giving punishments and rewards according to the behavior of the employees. The ultimate aim is align efforts of every individual in the direction of achieving goals.

Contingency theory of leadership: Contingency theory of leadership focuses on the fact there are several factors that affect the leadership style of the leader. The factors may be the nature of the work or the attitude of the followers. The leader should identify these factors and act accordingly to solve the problems of business (Peretomode, 2012).

Path goal theory of leadership: This leadership style is very effective when during implementation of strategies. Strategic implementation is a very complex process and it requires the coordination and support of every employees. In order to engage employee’s engagement and ensure their strategic contribution, a leader should motivate them by identifying their needs and provide them with support. A leader should clearly communicate goals and objectives to its employees, clear the path of achieving the goals by removing all the obstacles and provide support so that they can succeed (Murdoch & Polston, 2013).

System leadership: System leadership is a network of people who work in the organization to address the different issues in different segment. It does not focus on just one leader but a group of people (Senge, Hamilton & Kania, 2015). Large number of organizations has different issues that cannot be solved by one person. There is a strong need to delegate the problems in the hands of different individuals so that they can be solved in a timely and effective manner (Goss, 2015).

Theories and approaches to leadership

Operations management: Every organization performs operations on a regular basis in order to satisfy its core motive which is to earn profits. Operation refers to the process of converting input into output so as to ensure sustainable profits for an organization. The process of operation need to be managed effectively in order to maximize return the cost of operations need to be managed effectively in order to earn operating profits. Thus operations management refers to the process of designing and controlling the production process in such a way that the output is maximized and resources are optimized to increase the overall productivity of an organization. Operations vary from organization to organization depending on the size and nature of the business (Kumar & Suresh, 2009).

Strategic human resource planning: Human resource in any organization plays a very important role in operation management. By employing and engaging the right human resource in the production process will improve the efficiency and quality of the output produced and will also lower down the cost of production.

Purchasing practices: The purchasing and procurement practices of a company highly affect the cost. The company should place the order of the raw material after analyzing the demand of the production and should avail discounts offered by suppliers on bulk buying etc.

Quality management: Efficiency in the operation management is very important. Quality management ensures that the output produced matches the expectation of the customers and they get maximum customer satisfaction.

Inventory management: Inventory management is very important in managing and minimizing the operating cost of the organization. It means that the stock acquired for the production should be matching the production requirement. The situation of overstocking increases the carrying cost and under stocking affects the production. The right quantity of raw material should be maintained for uninterrupted production process.

Supply chain management: It is one of the crucial factors in operations management. Supply chain management deals with acquiring material from the vendor and flow of goods and services to the distribution centers or customers. An operation manager should ensure coordination between the suppliers and players of the distribution network. It involves logistic management and other factors that are involved in acquiring and distribution of goods and services.

Customer feedback: The main objective of production process is to satisfy the needs of the customers. By continuously analyzing the demand of the customers and their quality expectations, an operations manager can improve the production process.

  • A leader in order to effectively manage the operation in an organization requires the support of every individual. The leader treats every employee as a valuable resource and communicates the decisions regarding operations management and asking for a feedback. When the production process is not showing signs of growth and revenue, a leader should analyses the situation and communicating this to the employees they may develop a strong action plan to solve the problem. They motivate employees by rewarding and appreciating them which will directly affect their efficiency thus directly affecting the overall efficiency of the business (Cojocaru & Cojocaru, 2013).
  • Operation management affects the quality of the output produced. A leader makes sure that the suppliers provide the best quality input even if they have to pay a high price for the same. By ensuring quality in production customer satisfaction can easily be achieved. Also if the leaders are quality focused, the employees also work hard in order to meet the expectation of the leaders. Maintaining quality in the production will improve the operation process which will lead to lowering down production cost and ultimately lead to gain a competitive advantage in the market by providing quality products and services at a cost effective prices.
  • Operation leaders are involved in designing effective supply chain management strategies which is an effective component in the operations management. They develop strategies that enhance the existing productivity of the organization, minimizing the risk and responding proactively to any fluctuation in the market demand. They are responsible in delivering the right product at the right time and at the right place as per the convenience of the customer.
  • The major difference between a leader and a manager is that a manager manages but a leader lead. Managers only care for achieving the desired goals but a leader show concern towards its people. If a leader see problems in area of management, instead of blaming the other members they get down to the root cause and analyze the problem and orienting the same to other managers and other employees (Epstein, Buhovac & Yuthas, 2010).
  • An operations manager plays a very important role in managing the operations of the business. They are involved in management of resources required for production such as buying quality raw material at the cost effective prices and also efficient human resource to for undertaking operations activity. They check the inventory supply and purchase quantity at such a price that will ensure minimum carrying and operating cost.
  • Financial management is also a key function of the operation managers. They are involved in budgeting and controlling cost techniques in order to reduce the cost of production and maximizing the output. They use techniques such as cost benefit analysis to control cost and increase the efficiency (Pettinger, 2007).
  • Managers set realistic goals and objectives to be achieved by the other employees and they make effective policies and procedures to achieve such goals.
  • Managers use their effective interpersonal and communication skills in order to convey the goals to be achieved in the organization and motivate employees to contribute strategically in the effective implementation of operation management strategies.
  • Managers are the common link of communication between the top level authority and the rest of the employees working in the organization. They communicate the strategies designed for effective operation management to the employees and communicate the feedback of employees to the management. They are also involved in monitoring and reviewing the performance of employees on regular basis so that they can take immediate action to improve the employee’s productivity.

There are two main objectives of operations management. The first objective is to utilize the resources of the organization effectively into the production process and the other one to meet the expectations of the customer and provide them with quality products and services to ensure customers satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction: A business can only survive if its core products and services are accepted into the market by customers. Also the products and services that are being provided by the business should fulfill the demand of the customers at the right place and the right point of time.

Resources utilization: The key to achieve efficiency in operations, the utilization of resources is very important. Resources if utilized effectively in the production process will lead to minimizing the cost of production which will directly affect the price of the product and increase the brand loyalty and profitability of the product in the market (Hill & Hill, 2011).

Both of these objectives are equally important for an organization and none of them should be overlooked. This is the responsibility of an operation manager to strike a balance between both of them.

Competition: There are number of competitors are available in the markets that provide quality goods and services at competitive prices. A price of the product can be lowered down only to an extent but in order to survive an organization must cover its operations cost and earn profits.

Human resource: Human resource is a very significant factor in the process of operations management. Without their skills and support operation function cannot performed effectively.

Suppliers: Operation function is incomplete without the raw material requirement. In order to bring down the cost of operations, buying the input at the best possible prices is very important. If the suppliers are very few in numbers, they will create a monopoly in the market and the prices will be charged according to them.

Fluctuation in demand of the customer: The demand of the customers keeps on changing. It is very difficult to meet the demand of the customer and altering the production process immediately. It involves high cost and time which will affect the cost structure of an organization (Slack, Brandon-Jones & Johnston, 2013).

Leaders and managers in order to overcome such challenges that hinder the process of operations management collectively take decisions and implement them for effective management of operations. The leader with his vision can analyze the trends and competition of the market and by keeping in mind the demands of the customer can modify the production process. A manager can motivate employees by rewarding and appreciating them so that they can contribute effectively in the operation of the business and increase the overall productivity. By maintaining healthy relations with the suppliers a manager can ensure quality raw material at best prices. They can also search for some cost effective alternatives.


From the above report it can be concluded that the role of managers and leaders is equally important for an organization. They have different roles and responsibilities to perform but their ultimate aim is to work in coordination with the other employees of the individual in order to achieve strategic goals and objectives of the organization. Operations management is a very important element in ensuring the profitability of the organization. Both leaders and managers should focus on maximizing the customer satisfaction along with optimum utilization of the resources. Implementation of the strategies and policies is mainly dependent on the employees working in the organization. Both managers and leaders should become people oriented and ensure a healthy and competitive work environment for their growth.

Amabile, T. M. & Khaire, M. (2008) “Creativity and the role of the leader”, Harvard business review, vol. 86, no. 10, pp. 100.

Arruda, W. (2016) 9 Differences Between Being A Leader And A Manager. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Cielslinska, K. (2007) The basic role of manager in business organization. Cieszkowski Agricultural University of Pozna?. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Cojocaru, C. & Cojocaru, S. (2013) Operations management and leadership; A Case-study of implementation of Centralized Back office activities. Change and leadership, 17, 189-197.

Epstein, M.J., Buhovac, R.A. & Yuthas, K. (2010) The role of leadership and culture and organizational culture. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Gandz, J. (2005) The leadership role. IVEY Business Journal. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Goss, S., (2015) Systems Leadership: A view from the bridge. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Hill, A. and Hill, T. (2011) Essential Operations Management. London: Palgrave.

Kumar, A.S., & Suresh, N. (2009) Operations Management. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.


Management. 7th Ed. Harlow: Pearson.

Murdoch & Polston, L. (2013) An Investigation of Path-Goal Theory, Relationship of Leadership Style, Supervisor-Related Commitment, and Gender. Emerging leadership journeys. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Peretomode, O. (2012) Situational And Contingency Theories Of Leadership: Are They The Same? IOSR Journal of Business and Management. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Perrin, C. (2010) Leader vs. Manager: What’s the Distinction? Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Pettinger, R. (2007) Introduction to Management. 4th Ed. London: Palgrave

Senge, P., Hamilton, H. & Kania, J. (2015) The Dawn of System Leadership, Stanford social innovation review. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Slack, N., Brandon-Jones, A. and Johnston, R. (2013) Operations

Stagl, H. (2011) Six Roles of a Leader during Change. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Voiculet, A., Belu, N., Parpandel, E.D., & Rizea, C.I. (2010) The impact of external environment on organizational development strategy. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Vroom, H.V. & Jago, G.A., (2007) The Role of the Situation in Leadership. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Wan, E.K. (2013) The Role of Leadership in Organisational Transformation. Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

Zaleznik, A. (2004) Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? Retrieved from on 20 March 2017.

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