Difference between the Role of a Leader and the Function of a Manager

free essayRyanair is an Irish airline being the largest low-cost airline in Europe. It was founded in 1984 by the owners of a travel agency Tony Ryan, Chris Ryan, and Liam Lonergan. In 1985, the company flew on the only one route Waterford – Gatwick Airport (London) on the Brazilian 15-seat Embraer Bandeirante. Today, Ryanair serves over 1,600 destinations between 180 airports in 28 European countries and Morocco, making over 1,600 flights per day. It has currently 390 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The company has cheap but good quality planes, one model aircraft. It saves on luxury and flies only to certain airports, which allows providing the cheapest prices for its customers. The company is also characterized by rapid growth and expansion as provided in the Appendices A and B. In 2006, Ryanair carried 35 million passengers; the revenue for this period amounted to 1.7 billion euros with net profit being 302 million euros. In 2011, it transported 75,814,551 passengers.

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Ryanair has a vertical management structure. Its Board of Directors is focused on strategy formulation, policy and control. It consists of 12 individuals, 11 of which are non-executive. Since 1994, the leader of the company has been its CEO, Michael O’Leary, who is vigorous and persistence in pursuing goals, has a strong drive for responsibility, is focus on completing the task, and is responsible for the success or failure of the company1. Taking into account that all the members of the Board, including the Chairman, are non-executive, the most important manager of the company is its COO, Michael Hickey since 2014, who reports to the CEO. He is responsible for day-to-day businesses of the company.
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Both the leader and the manager deal with the same type of problems associated with stimulating the personnel of the organization, targeting it to solve certain tasks, taking care of the resources by which these tasks can be solved. However, the leadership and management are two different concepts. It is customary to distinguish the concepts of a leader and a manager as an informal and formal leader, respectively. The influence through the abilities and skills or other resources that people need is inherent to the informal leader. The formal leader influences people from the position he or she occupies, the official position in the organization. Additionally, the managers prefer order in interaction with subordinates. They build their relationships with them according to the roles the subordinates play in the programmed chain of events. Leaders select and hold people who understand and share their views and ideas reflected in their vision. Leaders take into account the workers’ needs, values and emotions. Leaders are inclined to use emotions and intuition and are always ready to evoke in their followers strong feelings such as love and hate. Moreover, managers tend to take a passive attitude toward goals. They are frequently necessarily guided by someone’s set goals and do not practically use them to make changes. On the contrary, leaders set their own goals and use them to change the attitude of people to business. Finally, managers concentrate their efforts in the field of decision-making. They try to narrow the set of ways to solve the problem. Decisions are often made on the basis of past experience. On the contrary, leaders make constant attempts to develop new and ambiguous solutions to the problem. Most importantly, leaders take the risk and burden of identifying new problems, after the problem is solved. However, in practice, there is usually no perfect abidance of these two types of management.

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Application of the Leader’s Role and the Manager’s Function in Given Contexts

The first, and the most important, situational context was that Ryanair revived from the ailing, upstart airline that faced ‘‘leaking cash’’ in 1988 to the constantly growing successful company with the operating revenue of 6.5 billion euros in 2016. Thus, according to the contingency theory of leadership that emphasize that different leadership styles are needed to cope with different situations, it was the leadership style of Michael O’Leary that played the most important role in this situation. He switched from the autocratic leadership style when the company was in deep trouble to the democratic one when the company appeared in the growth situation and the autocratic style was now counter-productive. In case of Michael Hickey, he had to start the abrading the company’s operations, cut the costs and launch the no-frills approach. The situational leadership theory also assumes that the sets of structure to lead depend on the problem at hand. However, it is focused not on the leadership style but on the personal traits of the leader. Thus, O’Leary showed the ability to adapt to any situation, to take risks, and to be brave in the provided situation. Hickey, in turn, showed professionalism and readiness to follow new strategies.

According to the systems leadership that emphasizes on viewing the entire company in relation to its environment, it was the Hickey’s functions that brought to the company’s success, as the roles and functions of the leader and the manager were replaced by each other there. It was Hickey who dealt with all the entities of the system, including processes, practices and people, collaborated across a number of functional systems. At the same time, being very demanding and treating employees poorly, O’Leary did not perceive them as the entities of the system, but only its board and shareholders, and the organization as a failing system.

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The second situational context was that Ryanair successfully began its improvement to the customer satisfaction, better customer services and customer experience by launching AGB customer experience program, “wholesale changes”, new website and mobile app from emphasizing on customer services poorly and stealing human dignity from them. , Thus, according to the contingency theory of leadership, Michael O’Leary also played the most important role there. He switched from the financial fortunes oriented or task oriented leadership style when there was used a model of satisfying shareholders to the democratic leadership style when the customers were perceived as the most important for Ryanair. In case of Michael Hickey, he had to generate ideas and implement them, as well as prepare the staff for the new things in order to reach the new established goals. According to the situational theory, Michael O’Leary showed the ability to understand what was important for the company and switched from the selfish money oriented person to the thinking and understandable person, who could place oneself on the place of others. Michael Hickey also showed that he could switch from the simple performer to the quickly reacting manager who could generate ideas quickly and accurately.

According to the systems leadership, Michael O’Leary again perceived only the company as a system that required changes and the Board of Directors and shareholders as the system elements that would win from the new emphasis because the customers became to be perceived important for the company, not important in general. The same situation was also in the case of Michael Hickey. He was a person who worked with all the system elements and entities, cooperated vertically with other officers, trained and motivated staff.

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The last situational context was that Ryanair had poor employment relations and treated its staff badly, demanding much by providing paid services and uniform, offering unusual and complicated contracts, and refusing to recognize unions, what resulted in numerous protests and boycotts, and court trails. Thus, according to the contingency theory of leadership, Michael O’Leary also played the most important role here, and, therefore, had the negative impact on the company. In this situation, he used task oriented leadership style, trying to solve the problem without considering in which way and omitting some other important points. He did not switch to any leadership style, though it would be better to switch to the employee oriented leadership style. In case of Michael Hickey, he also did not change his functions, following the already established goals, because the new goals were not established. However, it was he who alleviated that issue by keeping tight and friendly relationship with his subordinates, though still following the policies regarding unions, uniforms, etc. According to the situational leadership, O’Leary did not show the ability to change, to care for other people, especially the subordinates, to be sympathetic, understandable, to fix the mistakes and make appropriate conclusions. In the case of Hickey, he showed the same traits as O’Leary, because O’Leary was responsible for the success of the company, and Hickey was responsible for the day-to-day businesses, which was impossible when there were boycotts and protests. So, first of all, it was he who should show the mentioned abilities. Finally, according to the systems leadership, O’Leary again did not perceive organization as system and its employees as the important system elements and it process that stopped as important system entities without which the whole system, Ryanair, would fail. This was the only case, in which Hickey did not perceive his subordinates as important system elements and the process, for which he was responsible, as important system entities.

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