Leadership and Management: What’s the Difference?

Precisely among most frequently rehashed topic for debate and discussion in the field of business are the concepts behind being a leader and a manager. Taken from their exact terms, leaders are meant to lead people, while a manager is expected to manage tasks. More often than not, however, the two ideas are misrepresented and misunderstood within an enterprise. As a result, there seems to be an invisible line between the two, causing confusion among leaders, managers and rest of the people in the business hierarchy, particularly the ones that follow their lead.

In order for a business or organization to succeed, the roles of a leader and a manager are both necessary. It is important that the people are being constantly engaged, inspired and assigned responsibilities and perform them right. To oversee the people and see that the results of their work are up to the standards, key people need to have the skills for it.

Similarly, a business or organization necessitates the vision of someone who can steer it toward the achievement of goals. Regardless of the size, type and industry, an enterprise’s daily operations should be based on the principles that have been established in accordance with a specific vision or goal. A sense of purpose is indispensable in shaping the company toward making those goals a reality – and having everyone involved benefit from it.

Are these all about leadership? Or do they imply management?

Dictionaries and several publications attempt to define leaders and managers. Explanations are provided to show what these highly skilled and capable people are expected to, the strategies they need to explore, and the accomplishments they should be aiming for. The comparisons are mainly on how their personalities and approach to the tasks before them differ, the way that their focus and targets vary, and the results or outcomes expectedly dissimilar. Both are being looked up to by their followers and subordinates, and there is a need to define their territories to avoid a mix-up of roles that can lead to misplaced business efforts.

About.com illustrates the diverse roles of leaders, and how one can play – or not play – both, as explained by leadership and management expert Dan McCarthy.

Ten truths about leadership and management:

1. Not all leaders are managers and not all managers are leaders. You can be good at one and lousy at the other, or you can be good or bad at both.

2. Managers plan and budget, organize and staff, control and solve problems, and produce predictability and order.

3. Leaders establish direction, align people, motivate, inspire, and mentor, and produce change.

4. While leadership and management are different, they are complementary and equally important. One is not more important or better than the other.

5. Organizations need great leadership and great management or they will crash and burn. To what degree of each depends on the degree of change needed.

6. Given the amount of change most organizations are facing, the need for leadership has increased while the need for management remains constant.

7. Neither management nor leadership is a hereditary trait; they both need to be learned and developed over time. For most people, leadership tends to be harder and takes longer to develop.

8. While everyone has some potential to lead, some have more potential than others. Leadership potential is difficult to assess. Strong performance in one role does not guarantee leadership success in a future role.

9. Someone can be appointed a manager, but you have to earn the title of leader. A manager can inherit or hire employees, while a leader has to “be elected” by followers to be their leader.

10. You can do management to manage, but you have to be a leader to lead. Management can be an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, while leadership is transformational. There is no on and off switch with leadership.

Photo by Keoni Cabral

One Response to “Leadership and Management: What’s the Difference?”

  1. L A Crawley Says:

    Thanks for the great article, I believe the best managers/leaders put people first always. I’d like to share my greatest discovery on conveying value to employees and customers alike came through a great book called, “System Busters: How to stop them in your business.” I was excited to learn about the fully integrated management and organizational systems for any small business. It shares a “sensible” business model that maximizes the owner’s time by replicating him in every area of his business to prioritize the people then naturally it will be productive, profitable and one prepared for growth!

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