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The Difference Between Leadership & Management

Posted by vince
Published on 12 April 2019

Leadership and management are often confused as being the same thing - but they’re different. One general difference between the two is that leaders have people who follow them, while managers have people who work for and with them. But sometimes one person can be both the leader and the manager. For a small business owner to be successful s/he needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board with working towards a vision of success.

Leadership is about getting people to comprehend and believe in whatever vision is set for the organisation. If you’re a leader, it’s about getting people to work with you on achieving your (and the corporate) goals. Management is more about administering the work and making sure the day-to-day activities are happening as they should.

Leadership and management must go hand in hand though. They are not the same thing, but they are necessarily linked and complementary to one another. Any effort to separate the two within an organisation is likely to cause more problems than it solves. For any organisation to be successful, it needs management that can plan, organise and coordinate its staff, while also inspiring and motivating them to perform to the best of their ability. And it’s consistency that’s often hard to achieve.

Leadership is about inspiring, and management is about planning. Managers will focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals by controlling situations to reach or exceed their (or someone else’s) objectives. A leader’s job is to ensure that everyone believes in that direction – back to the vision again.
Managers give directions while leaders provide the vision. Leaders ask questions. Leaders have followers. Managers tell while leaders tend to show. Managers and leaders have good ideas – but leaders will make sure that everything is there for a good idea to work. Leaders create that all important vision, managers set goals.

Leaders paint a picture of what they see as possible after which they inspire and engage their people to turn that vision into reality. They think beyond what individuals do day to day in a place of work. They activate people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-functioning teams can accomplish a lot more working together than individuals working autonomously. Managers focus on setting, measuring and achieving goals. They control situations to reach or exceed their team’s and personal objectives.

Leaders are agents for change (a supremely tricky role), while managers maintain the day to day delivery and targets. Leaders are disrupters – they want to be innovative. They embrace most change and know that, even if things are working, there might be a better way. And they understand that change often creates difficulties. Managers stick with what works, refining systems, structures and processes to make them better.

Leaders tend not to worry what people might say about their ways of thinking, but the best leaders will be super listeners and are consultative. Once, though, they have an idea that they feel will work, they stick with it. They are confident in their tasks and the outcomes. That, of course, doesn’t mean that success happens every time – it doesn’t. But leaders are willing to try new things even if they may fail. There is a myriad of examples where a business has failed in its endeavours before success arrives. Managers copy and mirror the competencies and behaviours they learn from others, and adapt their leadership style rather than defining it.

Leaders take risks, managers control and minimise risk. Leaders are in it for the long haul; managers think short-term. Leaders remain motivated without receiving regular rewards. Managers work on shorter-term goals, seeking more regular acknowledgement and rewards. Leaders always remain curious. They seek out people who will help expand their thinking. Managers often double down on what made them successful, honing existing skills and adopting proven behaviour.

Leaders focus on people – all the stakeholders they need to influence to realise their vision. They know who their stakeholders are and spend most of their time with them (and that, of course, can and should include all staff). They build loyalty and trust by consistently delivering on the promise. Either which way, being a leader and a manager has responsibility and accountability where the rewards can be immense in every sense.

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