When assessing top-level job candidates, one way to overcome a bias toward people seen as leaders vs. people seen as managers, according to an Academy of Management Discoveries article, is to slow the decision process and carefully consider the skills needed for the position.
“The activities that people associate most with leading tend to be timeless and context-free. Whereas the activities that people most associate with managing are much more organizationally context-sensitive. People associate activities like inspiring, encouraging, and motivating with leading, and activities like hiring, supervising, and budgeting with managing,” said Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University. “We find a consistent tendency for people to prefer and select the prototypical leader, even for a situation that really calls for prototypical managing activities.”
“These findings speak to what has been referred to as an infatuation with or romance of leadership in our society, where leadership is often loved for personal, historical, and ideological reasons rather than any direct connection to the facts of a situation,” Kniffin and coauthors James R. Detert of the University of Virginia and Hannes L. Leroy of Erasmus University wrote in “On Leading and Managing: Synonyms or Separate (and Unequal)?” “This preference may come at the high cost of failing to appreciate the value of management in many situations.”