Difference between leadership and management

Difference between leadership and management
Difference between leadership and                                   management

Difference between leadership and management

Series Editor: JohnWalker, D.B.A.,CHA, F.M.P.

Case Contributor: Chad Gruhl, Ph.D., Metropolitan State University of Denver

Title: Leadership: Who’s the real leader?


  • To understand the difference between leadership and management
  •  To determine the role of a manager
  •  To determine the need for a leader
  • To assess when leadership is necessary
  •  To assess the qualities of a leader and a manager

Company Background

The Vision Hotel is a large convention hotel and meeting complex with 1500 rooms and 300,000 square feet of banquet space in downtown Denver, Colorado. The London Hotel is slightly smaller with 1200 rooms and around 250,000 square feet of banquet space. Both hotels are near each other; both opened around the same time, and both have been open for nearly two years.

Both hotels have experienced an occupancy rate of around 80 percent yearly, which is above the industry averages. However, the Vision’s occupancies have been dropping over the past three months.


The Colorado hotel industry in general has been booming for the past two years. Employers in the industry, however, face the difficulty of filling all the positions available because there are not enough applicants. This is a huge challenge for other large hotel markets around the country as well. Most hotels end up burning out their employees because they are short staffed and employees end up doing twice the work.


Adam Parson is the General Manager at the Vision Hotel. He has been there since the opening of the property. Adam is a nice person according to most of hisemployees, who refer to him as Mr. Parson, but they usually donít see him much even though he typically works 13 hours a day, 6 days a week. Adam spends most of his time in his office working on budgets and in meetings with his executive managers and department heads. He was transferred to this property from the company’s largest hotel in New York City because of his apparent management skills. The company has been very happy with him over the past five years because he has brought more money to the bottom line than any other general manager in their hotel portfolio, which includes 40 hotels across the country.

Adam spends a lot of time watching the industry trends, which leads him to making accurate predictions of future changes in the industry. For example, he predicted 10 years ago that many hotels would eliminate the minibar in guestrooms. His prediction came from the fact that industry revenues from the minibars had been continuously dropping for four straight years. At the same time, guests had been complaining about the high prices of the minibar products. His prediction was right on target. Over 13 years ago, Adam took out the minibars in his hotel and ended up saving money from labor and product costs. He knew what was coming and knew how to save money. This is an example of being a good transformational leader. Adam reacted to the industry trends before losing revenue and transformed the situation to a positive one, which also indicates great vision on his part.

Last year, Adam received the General Manager of the Year Award for the most profitable hotel in the system. However, he has been concerned about the turnover rate of employees over the past two years of operation in Denver. Adam knows it is very expensive to hire and train new employees. As a consequence, he has been pressuring his Human Resources Director for the past three months about the rising costs of turnover. Known to be a planner, Adam wants to see a plan from his HR Director on how this will be corrected soon, as well as in the future.

Adam is also upset that the occupancies for his hotel have been dropping compared to the competition. He has been having numerous meetings on the subject with the Director of Sales. He was so upset during one meeting that he slammed his fist down on the board table and told the Director to get their [sic] act together and bring in more business.

Kim Itasca is the General Manager at the London Hotel. Kim has been managing the property for the last 12 months. Before she started working at the London Hotel, problems included employee stealing, a turnover rate that was well over the industry average, and an occupancy rate that was the lowest of the large hotels downtown. Kim works about 10 hours a day, usually 6 days a week. Kim prefers not to have a lot of meetings with her management staff because she believes that managers need to be out with their employees and customers. Kim takes what she calls tours of the property every two hours. Each tour takes about two hours. When she walks the property, she stops and talks to as many employees as possible asking them about their day, their families, and how they like working at the London. She wishes she could learn all the names of her 900 employees, but she has learned only about half so far.

Kim usually spends one third of her day in the office going over paperwork, looking over revenue and cost reports, and answering her e-mails. She would prefer to be on the floor with here employees, but she recognizes that administrative work is also a part of her job. However, she knows that this is not the most important part of her job. Making sure her employees are happy is the most important part.

Kim encourages her employees to take care of the customers no matter what. She even went as far as telling her employees to spend up to $1,000 per customer situation to make a situation right for a customer. This includes comping hotel nights, meals, transportation, or whatever the employee feels is necessary to turn a bad situation into a good one. Kim is all about ensuring that her employees (including managers) are successful.

Over the past year, the employee turnover rate at the London Hotel has dropped by 10 percentage points. The Security Director has reported that theft has dropped dramatically, and employees overall appear to be much happier in their jobs than ever before.

What are some of the leadership skills of Adam? Of Kim? Who is the better leader? Why?

Respond in the form or a well-developed paragraph, supported by cited references to our text.

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