Roles And Characteristics Of Leaders And Managers


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Operational management refers to a process of planning, organising and supervising functions of a company. It works with a purpose  to make necessary improvement in business operations are carried out so that higher profitability can be attained. It is considered as multidisciplinary functional area within an organisation, which makes sure that resources like materials and labours are perfectly utilised. The present assignment is made to differentiate roles of leaders and functions of managers in a company in different-different situation. For this purpose, M&S is undertaken which is an  multinational company has near about 979 stores which offers its products like branded clothes, households and food items worldwide. This report demonstrated effectiveness of theories of leadership and management. Moreover, some factors of business which put adverse impact on decision-making process and operational activities also highlighted.


P1 Define and compare roles and characteristics of leaders and managers

Marks & Spencer Group Plc is a British multinational company of UK. It is  headquartered in the City of Westminster, London which specialises in offering a wide range of branded products related to clothes, food and households items. It was founded in 1884 by  Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in UK. Around 979 stores of M&S are running at marketplace of UK and in many countries where 85,000 employees are currently working. These workers give high commitment in order to bring innovation and sustainability of business at marketplace. Since every business runs with a specific purpose therefore, main objective of M&S is 'to gain high profitability and maintain long-term sustainability'. For this purpose, its employers seeks to include a wide range of products in food sector like ready meal or partly pre-prepared items. It will help in gaining attention and retention of loyal customers.   

As organisational structure of a company depends upon size of business therefore,  Marks & Spencer follows a flat mega structure (Strande and Brdjanovic, 2014). It includes a limited level of management between administration staff and front-line employees. Therefore, it aids employees to feel equally and share their ideas in developing and enhancing performance of business.

Managers are those persons in a company who take entire responsibilities to manage functions of a company. It includes planning, organisation, control and coordination. They have authority to hire or fire employees in order to improve performance of an enterprise.In context with leaders, they influence subordinates in order to achieve a specific goal. They shares vision and inspire others to conduct a task in appropriate manner so that higher profitability of business can  be gained. Functions of managers is to prepare plans, policies and strategies by concerning on requirement of business. While role of leaders is to set directions through which such plans can be implemented in proper way and obtain desired outcome.  

Comparison on different roles of Leaders and functions of managers:-

Basis for Comparison




Leaders work with main purpose i.e. to lead a group  towards goals and objectives of a company (Morschett, Schramm-Klein and Zentes, 2015).


On the other hand, managers manage entire activities of organisation like hiring or firing employees at workplace,  provide training program for enhancing skills and more, by which goals and objectives of business can be achieved in desired manner.


Leaders are honest in their work and use proper communication techniques to influence people around them.  

Whereas characteristics of managers are different from leaders as they work on the basis of commitment, creativity and versatility.  


They concern more on developing level of trust among team-members so that all work in cooperative manner.

While managers focus on how to control and manage system so that targets are fulfilled rather than constructing trust and loyalty between staff-members.


In order to introduce creativity, leaders take risk and influence team-members accordingly.

Instead of this, managers minimise risks rather than to initiate for profitability of business.


P2. Different situation of organisation with role of leaders and functions of managers

As M&S operate its business at large scale and serve products in worldwide. Therefore, to fulfil requirement of each customer belong to different-different backgrounds is not an easy process. It rise to generate various issues and problems in operation management. It includes decision making activities, employee engagement, upgrading system, interpersonal conflicts and more. These issues lead to put an adverse affect on performance and productivity of workplace. Therefore, role of leaders and functions of managers can be differentiated on the basis of handling such issues. For example: Managing Employee- Work-related pressure generate high degree of stress among workers and staff members. In this case, leaders first identify at which work leaders feel unable to work alone and then engage them in group-related activities. It will help in reducing excessive workload of employees (Fayol, 2016). On the other hand, managers provide reward to best performers so that others can motivated to work well. Similarly, some other situations of M&S where leaders and managers play different role can be demonstrated in following manner:-

Situation 1: Conflicts Resolution

Conflicts are considered as main issue which mostly occurs in those companies which has large working organisation and presence of diversified employees. In context with M&S, it has various stores where workers belong to different background. Therefore, due to different perceptions, occurrence of clashes between them is natural but it adversely affect whole working organisation also.   

  • Managerial functions: In order to handle this situation, managers of M&S engage workers in group related activities as well as allot roles and responsibilities according to their skills. This activity help in developing relationship among staff members by which they can share different opinion and ideas with each other.  
  • Leaders' role: To minimise occurrence of conflicts, leaders identify skills and abilities of each employee. After then organise training and development program so that skills gap between workers can be reduced. It helps in generating feeling of equality in employees and they will cooperate each other for completing a task.

Situation 2: Decision-making Process

 Decision making process is an important function of company but due to lack of proper communication, fear of failure and more, arise problems in conducting operational and other activities in appropriate manner. With respect to M&S, problem related to determine whether modification in operational system is necessary or not arise generally.   

  • Managerial functions:For dealing with such situation, managers of M&S, analyse functions of each area and determine where changes are necessary to be done. After then they enrol workers in decision-making activities to inform them requirement of modifications and get feedback on necessity of the same (Peng and, 2015). It will help in getting support of employees in taking proper decisions.
  • Leaders' role: On the other hand, to resolve mentioned issues, leaders share vision and provide specific guideline to workers. They convince employees to adopt new techniques and work accordingly.

P3 Different theories of leadership and models of approaches

A knowledge of different type of leadership and management theories, help a firm in hiring right candidates at workplace and get their contribution in achievement of business goals. It helps in improving performance of business as well as handling various issues appropriately. In context with M&S, choosing a best leadership style assist in taking up company on next level. It includes situational, trait, contingency and many more leadership which has own benefits and drawbacks. All these theories help managers of M&S in resolving issues which arise while conducting operational activities in business. A brief explanation on how such theories help in sustainable performance and growth of business is stated below:-

Situational leadership theory: As per perception of Webb, (2017) the fundamental principle of this theory is that there is no best style of leadership. It is based on type of task which assist leaders to adopt leadership style as per ability and willingness of group whom they have to lead. For example: In M&S, leadership style of managers vary with type of tasks, functions and job role that they need to be accomplished. In case of having proper skills and abilities of workers but yet to be demotivated for a task, then in such condition, managers involve them in decision making activities. It help in boosting morale of employees and motivating them to do a task in appropriate manner.

Systems leadership theory: According to opinion of  Giuliani, M (2015), this approach of leadership identifies the inter-relations or inter-dependencies of different parts of organisations. It generally focuses on changes which may impact on environment of a company. For example: M&S use this theory for measuring performance and developing interaction between departments. For this process, it organises meetings and some conferences on regular basis where managers of all departments discuss about how process going on and what changes are necessary to be done. It helps in attainment of growth and development of business.  

Contingency Leadership theory: As per views of (Parisio, Rikos and Glielmo, 2016). contingency theory states that there is no perfect style of leadership, it only depends upon current situation of workplace and some contingent factors It includes power of leaders to influence, expectation of workers, certainty or uncertainty of task and last but not least is complexity of organisation. For example: Managers of M&S mostly use this theory for engaging employees in group related activities. It will help in developing good relations among workers for employee engagement and motivate them to give high commitment towards achievement of business success.

Major strengths and weaknesses of different theories of leadership

Leadership Theory




This theory is simple to understand and allows individuals to change style of leadership as per situation within business organisation.

Situational leadership theory is not effective for task-oriented managers as shifting process may keep them away from long term goals.


It enhances adaptability of organisation for environmental changes in business. Therefore, using this system, managers of M&S can take decision as per micro and macro environment of organisation.

This theory leads to delay in decision-making process.


Using this theory of leadership, M&S can become able to assess better and tailor management to meet specific need of organisation.

Due to some limitations of contingency theory, it fails to prove more effective than others. It includes complexity, difficult empirical testing, reactive but not proactive etc.


P4 Key approaches to operations management with role of managers and leaders

Operation management refers to main function of an organisation which helps in running business activities effectively and efficiently. In this regard, operational managers are responsible for streamlining and monitoring all functions professionally. Moreover, they must ensure that processes are analysed and developed as per requirement of business. Therefore, operation department seems as centre of organisation which oversees performance of overall setup at workplace (Parisio, Rikos and Glielmo, 2016). With respect to M&S, using six sigma and JIT management approaches, helps this firm in serving best quality of products or services worldwide. It sells branded clothes, household items by labelling them with company's trademark. In order to give tough competition to TESCO and H&M, it also offers luxurious eatable like party-food, savoury and semi-baked items etc. Therefore, in making production more effective and manufacture products on low cost, key approaches of operational management like Just-in-time, six sigma and TQM help in reducing risk and cost of production. For this purpose, importance of these key approaches can be explained in following manner: -  

Just-in-time:It refers to inventory management which is also known as lean manufacturing system. This strategy is used to increase efficiency of manufacturing process and managing inventories. Therefore, M&S use it to manage inventories at warehouses and stores in appropriate manner. As, it helps in reducing storage space by making products available only at the time of demand.

Role of Managers:In JIT approach, main functions of managers of M&S is to ensure that there is flexibility in production and this firm can meet rise in product demand.  (Source: Process of Just-In-Time approach, 2018)

  • Role of leaders: In M&S, leaders play main role in ensuring that any type of delay by suppliers may not put adverse effect on working system of company.  

Six Sigma: This approach helps in improving and developing quality of operational management by minimising errors and defects in products. So, M&S use this approach to reduce cost and time of production. Six sigma consist DMAIC tool which creates a step for each production process. It includes Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control by which M&S can produce best quality of products.

  • Role of Managers:In six sigma approach, managers have to make sure that characteristics of product are designed as exactly as per requirement of customers.
  • Role of leaders:In M&S, by giving high commitment of support on executive level, leaders help in implementing this system in appropriate manner.  

Total Quality Management: It refers to best approach which focuses on developing and controlling quality of products. It can be defined as management philosophy which integrate entire function of organisation like marketing, customer service, finance and production in order to meet requirement of consumers. So, purpose behind using this approach by M&S is to meet objectives of organisation and fulfil demand of customers in short-period of interval.

  • Role of Managers:Under this technique, managers prepare plan and review all process of integrating so that mentioned purpose can accomplish.
  • Role of Leaders:They measure performance of each employee and provide training to them. It helps in obtaining best work from employees for serving right quality of products to customers.

P5 Importance of operational management

Operation management is an important function of an enterprise which involves various activities like organising, managing, planning, supervising and controlling the entire process of production. In this context, managers take responsibility to utilise resources in proper manner while  turning raw materials into finished products. It includes man, material, labour, machinery and capital. Therefore, behind success of M&S, operation management plays a vital role As it ensures that optimum utilisation of resources leads to enormous profit of this company. Thus, for this purpose, operational managers control entire operation and if goods are produced catering to requirement of people then, they will be delivered at a rapid rate. In order to increase efficiency and improve overall productivity of business, operation management handles all issues of production like design and maintenance of the system. Since main aim of M&S is to gain high profitability and maintain sustainability of business at marketplace. Therefore, to accomplish this objective operational management gives support to employers to integrate efforts of employees and utilisation of resources in providing best services to customers. Along with this, by implementing management approaches like six sigma, help this firm in increasing efficiencies of production process and satisfying demand of customers on time. Similarly, using JIT and TQM approaches, M&S can maintain stocks and inventories at store in proper manner and ensure quality of products as well.

Role of managers in operational management:

To meet business objectives of M&S, managers of operation department plays a crucial role. They take responsibility to improve productivity and increase growth of organisation by designing product exactly as customers need. For increasing efficiency of operations and functions like manufacturing, purchasing, packaging, shipping and more, managers upgrade entire system. Along with this, they provide essential training to workers also for developing their skills and abilities. By this process, support of employees in increasing efficiencies and effectiveness of business can be achieved.

Role of leaders in operational management:

In developing effectiveness of operational management, leaders of M&S also play an important role. They improve communication process at workplace for increasing productivity of business as well. As when information transferred from one person to another, or one department to other in the clear and constructive manner then, it will speed up the pace on which business can operate. For this purpose, leaders set up proper communication system like computer accounting system. This system helps in calculating current inventories and send information to production department for maintaining product levels. It aids to fulfil order of customers on time.   


P6 Impact of environmental factors of business on decision making and operational management

When operations of an organisation are proper managed then entire functions of departments run smoothly. For example- If operational managers formulate effective strategies and policies which entails others in what manner they have to perform then it will help in conducting functions more appropriately. Therefore, M&S concern more on implementing effective operational management at workplace which helps in successfully turn semi-finished products into finished one and deliver them on time at marketplace. But there are various external factors present at business environment which creates a large impact on decision-making activities and operational management in following manner: -

Governmental Policies: Legal factor of business environment puts an adverse impact on decision-making activities of all small and large companies. According to Kerzner and Kerzner, (2017) regulatory bodies of every country set some rules and frameworks which are to be complied by a company in order to run business smoothly. It includes economic policies, legal changes and more. For example: A rise in taxation will increase cost of products so, it impacts positively on profitability of business like M&S. Similarly, rise in interest rate raise costs to companies of lending money so, it leads to fall sales also. Therefore, it creates negative impact on operational activities of M&S and managers has to change decision-making strategies according to governmental policies.  

Technology: As per opinion of J. B. and Kim, (2015). innovation has become life of business today, which create life-cycle of products much short at marketplace. Therefore, changes in technology also impact on decision-making activities and operational management of a company. For Example- In context with M&S, by adoption of latest technologies like digital techniques, this firm has increased its customers base. Through Instagram, Facebook and online facilities, marketing managers of this company develop good interaction with customers of distant place and serve them products accordingly (Lee and, 2014). So, it puts a positive impact on profitability of this company. But for this purpose, M&S has to invest more on upgrading system and organise training for employees also. So, it will negatively impact on financial budget of company.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): This factor of business environment puts a large impact on decision making activities of a company. As if an enterprise creates investment in CSR activities then it will enhance brand image of business at marketplace. As per opinion of to Johnstone (2016), concerning on welfare of societies and environment and doing business activities accordingly will create a positive image of a company at marketplace. For example: Due to fluctuations in economy, M&S sometime not in condition to conduct CSR activities such as carbon neutrality, reuse and recycle of waste products in appropriate manner. So, it put negative impact on image of this company at marketplace.  

So, it has recommended to this firm to prepare effective budget plan so that in case of economical fluctuation, managers can conduct CSR activities in appropriate manner. Along with this, it should develop policies and strategies as per governance. All these processes, help this company in reducing negative impact of external factors on operational and decision making activities.


From this report, it has been summarised that without proper management of operations, a company cannot achieve success in desired manner. Therefore, it is necessary for all organisations to implement effective operational management system at workplace. It will help in making available all resources like machineries, capital, labour and raw materials within organisation. Along with this, operational managers control all major activities and integrate efforts of employees in converting raw materials into finished products. In this era, managers and leaders give support companies in increasing efficiencies of operational management by handle all problems in specific way.

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