A key aspect of understanding and influencing staff behaviour is the concept of "management" and what it means to be a "manager". This page looks at the difference between management, leadership and other related concepts before considering different theories of management

Definitions and terminology

There are a number of terms relating to management that people get confused between. In particular:

Management and leadership

Management can be defined as the effective use and co-ordination of resources, such as capital, plant, materials and labour to achieve defined objectives with maximum efficiency.

Managers have an overall aim of ensuring that everything that needs to be done within an organisation is done on time and to an appropriate standard. They are usually given authority in the organisation, which will enable them to ensure that staff follow their instructions.  

A basic definition of a leader, however, is 'someone who exercises influence over other people'.

A leader can be a manager, but a manager is not necessarily a leader. If a manager is able to influence people to achieve the goals of the organisation, without using formal authority to do so, then the manager is demonstrating leadership.

Authority, power and responsibility


Authority refers to the relationship between the participants within an organisation. There are several definitions, but among the best are:

 'Authority is the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience.' Fayol

 'Authority is the right to do something, or ask someone to do something and expect it to be done.'


Power is the ability to be able to do something or make another person do something.

Make sure you do not get confused between power and authority - a manager may have the authority to ask his team to do something. However, the team could simply refuse. Power is what enables the manager to ensure that the team member will comply with his request.

Sources of power can be explored here.


Responsibility is the liability of a person to be called to account for his or her actions. It expresses the obligation a person has to fulfil a given task. A person is said to be responsible for a piece of work when he or she is required to ensure that the work is done.

Note that responsibility cannot be delegated to others.

If a manager is responsible for a given task, he may choose to delegate it to a member of his team. If they fail to perform the task in a satisfactory way, the manager is still responsible (or accountable) for this failure. This is because it was the manager's choice to delegate the task as well as the manager's failure to ensure that it was accomplished in a satisfactory way.

The principle of correspondence

 In every position authority and responsibility should correspond (principle of correspondence):

  • Having responsibility without authority - supervisor may be held responsible for time keeping but does not have the authority to discipline subordinate for poor time-keeping. The supervisor is powerless to achieve the levels upon which his or her performance is being judged. This supervisor is likely to become frustrated, stressed and demotivated. Performance is likely to suffer.

Conflict will occur if the supervisor fails the task due to lack of co-operation caused by lack of authority.

  • Having authority without responsibility - personnel department employ an individual but will have no responsibility for the employee; they are in a position of false security. Managers not held accountable for their authority may exercise their authority in an irresponsible way, which may not be to the benefit of the organisation. They may take unacceptable risks, because the consequences of decisions will not rebound on them.

The control mechanisms of the organisation depend on accountability.

Research and schools of thought

There are many theories on management but within this knowledge bank we focus on the following (click on the links below to explore in more detail):

The Human Relations School

Research carried out by Elton Mayo at the General Electric Company in Chicago concluded that group relationships and management-worker communication were far more important in determining employee behaviour than were physical conditions (e.g. lighting and noise) and the working practices imposed by management. Also, wage levels were not the dominant motivating factor for most workers.

This led the way for much of the research that followed.

The Classical School

The classical school of management theories were developed during the Industrial Revolution of the mid- to late- 1800s and early 1900s. They are largely concerned with improving efficiency and productivity with a focus on finding the one "right way" of doing anything.

Modern management theories

There is a wide range of modern management theories but one thing they share is that there is no single right way of managing - the optimal approach (if any) depends on the circumstances involved.

Created at 8/9/2012 3:29 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Last modified at 11/13/2012 3:18 PM  by System Account  (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London

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