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The Thorntons Company: Development and Leadership


Leaders have characteristics that are expressed in their behaviour and their motivation when working. Just like managers, leaders take the role of dealing with daily activities at work, but they focus more of their efforts on managing the visions and missions of their firms. Thus, a leader focuses on being an achiever, exhibiting ambition and energy, as well as the tenacity and initiative to make decisions and take actions on behalf of a firm. This report examines the differences and similarities between leadership and management. The report then examines the leadership and management needs in Thorntons.

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Definitions of leadership and critical evaluation

Leadership may occur in organized or unorganized settings. A leader exercises management tasks, but they also focus on the relationships that exist among the followers and his or her influence on the followers, instead of focusing on production measures, product qualities, and other deliverables. Thus, leaders first carry a dream or desire and then transfer the dream to the followers using various styles, while empowering them to work towards achieving the dream. Leaders use strategies to seize opportunities and avoid threats (Yukl, 2012).

Critically evaluate the definitions of management

A given definition of a manager is complicated because of the intertwined leadership and management roles in a typical organizational setting. The best definitions of a manager and management cover the tasks and expectations of the person and the job position (Yukl, 2012).

Managers handle the organizational tasks of a firm. Therefore, they require the existence of an organization for their position to exist. Managers can operate in both formal and informal organizations, and they work to ensure that their respective organizations run smoothly. In figurative terms, managers are the hinges or the gears of the organization because they connect different departments and employees to the strategy and the vision of the organization. They ensure that work is done as desired and operations remain efficient. Managers handle the daily challenges of implementing the policies created by leaders. Even in informal organizations, managers rely on formal tools and techniques to accomplish their work.

How the current context of the organization determines the need for leadership or management

The hierarchical structure of an organization influences its need for leadership and management, with a flat organization being positioned to benefit most from a strong leadership orientation. Social attitudes towards authority have changed over time, and now many employees expect to engage in decision-making obligations of their companies. At the same time, a variety of best practices and regulations now compel organizations to make deliberate attempts to engage in employee consultation as part of the requirement to manage employee welfare. Thus, leadership roles and demands continue to emerge even in organizations that are predominantly management-oriented. Overall, an organization that has leaders who are effective in getting things done through other people end up flourishing (Mullins, 2013).

An organization will need both management and leadership skills, based on its demands for people to manage personal skills, provide direction, facilitate change, work with people, use resources, and achieve results. If the need for working with people or using resources and producing results is high, then the particular organization will need great leadership ability (Bean, 2009). The above claims are consistent with the Michigan leadership studies, as well as those of Ohio State University studies. The essential attribute of the Michigan leadership studies is that employee orientation and product orientation are the preferred leadership styles. Here, leaders operate more like relationship managers, and they focus on the task. Therefore, an organization succeeds best when it has tight control, and it focuses on employee issues (Lussier & Achu, 2010).

Task orientation is necessary at low organizational levels; therefore, management tasks are more prominent than leadership functions. Moreover, organizations evaluate the performance of their low-level departments based on how well managers can perform specific job tasks and reach tangible goals. Low-level organizational units require the workers in the management positions to operate like subordinate employees. Therefore, it calls for task-specific assignments and aims, rather than visions and missions that would be characterised by leadership. Middle-level management requires a mix of leadership and management skills. Assigning tasks to low-level management staffs will need a manager’s perspective while understanding the strategic aspects of the business will require leadership skills (Yukl, 2012).

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Identification and comparison of the areas of difference and similarity between leadership and management in both theory and practice

Behavioural theorists welcome the idea of a leader having effects on the followers, which causes the leader to adopt a given behaviour and enable him to achieve the desired outcome. Trait leadership theories focus on the effect of those led in response to specific leadership traits (Christy, 2009). Using the Ohio studies would make an organization focus on leadership behaviour. Initiative behaviours of leaders allow their organizations to work. Leaders make patterns and create channels of communication in the process. They define the relationships and roles of workers and departments in the organization (Beerel, 2009).

Leaders in both the Ohio and Michigan studies are task-oriented. They have to consider behaviours that facilitate the accomplishment of tasks. Resultantly, both studies agree that leadership works well when it operates within the parameters of management. The main difference between the two leadership theories is that the Michigan one views leadership as two opposite ends of a linear spectrum; leaders can be either relationship-oriented or task-oriented. Meanwhile, for the Ohio studies, leadership can be a combination of characteristics drawn from a universal matrix (Daft, 2011).

The main leadership schools of thought are the qualities or trait approach, the functional or group approach, the approach that takes leadership as a behavioural category, and the transformational leadership. Also, there is the situational approach model, which is similar to the contingency model. Lastly, there is the inspirational leadership school of thought. In practice, transformative leaders end up being authoritative or inspirational when they find out that circumstances facilitate one leadership type more than another.


In connection with the central question of this paper and the Thorntons case study, the appropriate answer is that Thorntons lacks adequate capacity for management skills compared to its leadership capabilities. Furthermore, Thorntons successfully moved beyond a transition process that allows it to consolidate its business, increase production efficiencies, and enjoy desired profit margins. Nevertheless, the company is not yet out of trouble; it can easily slip back to a loss-making position should it fail to consolidate the present gains. The company needs competent management because it requires the control of its daily operations. It also requires actions that will allow it to meet the desired goals that it has allocated to its various departments.

Jonathan Hart, the Chief Executive Officer, acknowledges the fact that the redefined growth of the company has not been a straight trajectory. This statement indicates the difficulties in coordinating activities and operations of the organization, which would allow it to realise its vision with ease. It is upon the leadership to provide direction when there are implementation problems of vision in an organization. In many cases, leaders have to look at their styles of leadership and the compatibility with the organizational situation. For example, leaders would opt for an inspirational style, coupled with situational leadership influences, when circumstances are not supporting an authoritative leadership style. However, the Thorntons case does not display a lack of leadership. It has a capable leader who can command both the attention and respect of the employees. As an honest and task-focused personality, Hart is also a leader who keeps on embracing employee relations. His desire to transform the business without losing any of its employees demonstrates this characteristic.

Therefore, what remains is the ability of Thorntons to execute the appropriate decisions made by its leadership. The middle-level management workers, low-level managers, and the employees require controls. They work with schedules, direction, examples, guidelines, rules, and other management cues to assist them to achieve specific tasks assigned to them. The only way for Thorntons to sustain its growth momentum is by having line managers execute instructions within stipulated rules and provisions. Deviations and excessive staff freedom to act can cost the company its goals. Employees become lax and do not perform their jobs as expected if they lack inadequate supervision. The supervision task is left to workers who perform the role of management. Also, Thorntons has a hierarchical structure that favours management styles that focus on task assignment and division of responsibilities.


Bean, J. (2009). Lessons in leadership. New York, NY: Linus Publications.

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Beerel, A. (2009). Leadership and change management. London, UK: Sage Publishing Ltd.

Christy, G. (2009). Leadership. In C. Rayner, & D. Adam-Smith, Managing and Leading People (pp. 81-100). London, UK: CIPD.

Daft, R. L. (2011). Leadership (5th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Lussier, R. N., & Achu, C. F. (2010). Leadership: Theory, application & skill development. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Mullins, L. (2013). Management and organisational behaviour. Harlow, UK: FT/Prentice Hall.

Yukl, G. (2012). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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