MANAGEMENT VS. LEADERSHIP
We must understand the difference between “management” and
“leadership” to appreciate the importance of an education in the
science of management. Although management and leadership
often go hand in hand, they are vastly different concepts. Here are
• Management is a “plan.” Management defines goals and creates
a path to achieve the goals. Conversely, leadership is a style,
sometimes displayed in the spur of the moment. Leadership
may inspire others to work toward a goal, but management sets
the goals, establishes the process to achieve it, and evaluates the
progress toward the desired endpoint.
• Managers are present to ensure that results are produced efficiently and effectively. Without managers, leaders would inspire
others to achieve goals that are not necessarily those of the organization. Leaders can rally others in times of need but without
the goals set by management, leaders will not know where to
direct the efforts of the organization.
• Workers need their managers not just to assign tasks but to
define the purpose of their actions. Leaders do not define purpose or monitor the progress toward the goals. Leaders do not
monitor whether efforts are efficient. Management is concerned
with the time it takes to achieve progress, while leadership is
concerned with keeping others inspired to make progress.
• Leaders are models for fair and ethical behavior, while managers
are models for efficiency, achievement, and prosperity. Good
managers need not be charismatic. A manager does not have to
rally the troops.
• Management skills can be taught and learned through formal
education and experience. Conversely, leadership is generally
learned through modeling behavior of another and challenging
one’s own ideas for ideal leadership characteristics.
We speak more about leadership than management in the emergency services, and we confuse the two concepts. Leadership is
important, but we too often ignore management. Leadership sells
books and makes good television, but solid management skills will
ensure the success of an organization.
Perhaps our lack of management training is a result of the lack
of education and experience of our present fire service leaders in
the science of management. Thus, our managers failed to develop
proper management skills and gain knowledge from their predecessors, as they were also not trained managers. We must break the
cycle of poor management education and training.
This article refers to persons in charge of making decisions as
“managers” and not “leaders.” Leadership does not require a rank
but management does in fact require a title. We too often confuse
the role of a manager with a leader. This article advocates for a
management model in which not all line officers become managers and not all managers become line officers. Instead, those best
suited for the position should hold the management authority.
To implement a successful management structure, we must
understand “management theory.” The purposes of management
theory are to find the best methods of organizing a group to
reach the best outcome in the most efficient manner and to find
systematic approaches that create repetitive results year to year.
Understanding management theory will help you gain manage-
ment skills, evaluate your organization’s strengths and weaknesses,
and improve your organization’s operations and effectiveness.
Whether you know it or not, your organization’s personnel
demand a clearly defined management structure that is designed to
achieve and deliver excellent outcomes such as firefighting, patient
care, and rescue. Your public demands that these outcomes are
achieved for a reasonable cost. Anyone can use unlimited resources
to achieve good results, but a well-managed organization will be
just as successful in less time with fewer resources.
THE CASE FOR PROPER MANAGEMENT:
RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
Theorists in organizational behavior and group dynamics have
opined that persons will join an organization that espouses a belief
they have adopted or desire to adopt as their own. 1 The fire service
exudes ideals such as brotherhood, community service, honor,
courage, and pride. Those who join the service want to define
themselves in the same way. Individuals will remain in the organization only so long as they believe that the organization continues
to define itself as they want to be defined.
As the fire service is a paramilitary organization, those who join
a fire department often crave the strict structure offered by such
an organization. This structure provides comfort to those who
perform a dangerous job, as many believe that following a well
thought out process will keep them safe. We believe that those who
have elevated themselves in the hierarchy have the knowledge and
ability to keep us out of harm’s way.
Maslow’s hierarchy professes related theories. Maslow theorized
that individuals must satisfy their basic needs to reach their highest potential and that the inability to satisfy each basic need will
inhibit or prevent their ability to succeed or reach their fullest
potential. The second tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is “safety.” Indeed,
if an individual joins an organization and feels that he is not safe in
such organization, the individual is not apt to remain a member, as
the individual will not believe that he will survive or excel.
As an example, consider the fire department’s training program.
Participants in a well-organized and efficiently managed training
program will not only gain valuable skills but will also gain the
confidence to participate in actual emergencies. They will form the
belief that they will gain the skills necessary to prepare them for
challenging and dangerous environments. A training program is no
different than any other managed program; it must have goals, an
established process, rules to follow, and an evaluation of its progress.
The failure to implement a management structure and to define and
follow a process for offering, conducting, and evaluating training
will result in members without skills or confidence in their abilities.
A properly organized and managed fire department will instill
confidence in its members. Members will be proud to be part of
a well-run organization and will take comfort in the safety that a
structured organization will offer. They will tout the benefits of
belonging to their friends and community members. Successful
management will breed growth of the organization.
A well-managed organization can provide its staff with opportunities for management that are notable on a resume. An organiza-