Leadership vs Management – Know the Key Differences

Leadership vs Management is a longstanding debate. These terms are often used interchangeably. Though there are a few similarities between leaders and managers, there are significant differences.

The primary difference between leadership and management lies in the definition. The former is the art of influencing, motivating, and encouraging people to put efforts into achieving the company’s goal. The latter is controlling an organization or group of individuals.

Put, leaders motivate, while managers oversee. More interestingly, a leader is a manager but not all managers are leaders. A leader does not need any title, and anyone in an organization can become one at any time.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. —John Maxwell

In this article, let us dive deeper into the differences between leadership and management.

What is Leadership?

It is a skill or art of motivating, influencing, and guiding people toward the direction of goals. It entails articulating visions, establishing goals, making decisions, taking risks, and equipping others with knowledge to achieve those goals.

Alternatively, we can define it as outlining a plan, vision, and strategy to create a vibrant and non-incremental change in an organization. It is also about empowering employees to make that change realistic despite hurdles.

It does not relate to any position in an organization, or it does not have anything to do with titles. Anyone with the potential to influence people can become a leader. Self-confidence, integrity, creative and innovative thinking, management skills, openness to change, no fear of failure, and willingness to take risks are some essential traits of a good leader.

Some examples include Bill Gates, Ratan Tata, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos.

What do Leaders Do?

As stated above, unlike managers, leaders do not have any authority or management position in an organization. They have a strong vision and great interest and passion for work. They are agile, adaptive, open to change, and visionary, who generally challenge the status quo.

Anyone can be a leader, even employees inspiring coworkers to put in strenuous efforts and attain their goals.

Further, they are more involved in their followers’ success, inspiring and guiding them to accomplish their goals. What leaders do are not necessarily organizational goals.

People follow leaders because of their beliefs, behavior, personality, and thinking. Inspiration and trust form the basis for leadership.

Traits of a Leader

  • Visionary: They have a vision leading to the growth of an organization. They create strategies with the help of team members for the efficient functioning of the company.
  • Inspiration: With a great vision, leaders can convey it to others and create excitement. They strive to create a healthy environment and keep team members always motivated.
  • Ability to Bring Change: With their strong beliefs, ethics, and passion, they bring significant change to an organization’s environment.
  • Excellent Communication: They have a clear and concise communication style. They communicate with team members with enough transparency and understand their strengths, weaknesses, and problems.
  • Open-Minded and Creative: They always foster new ideas and innovations from team members. With a willingness to change things, they think out of the box, inspire new ideas, and listen to others.

What is Management?

It is about carrying out pre-defined tasks within the given deadline with the help of assistants. It primarily involves four significant functions: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

Simply put, it is the process of getting things done with the help of a group of people in an organization. It is the art of creating an environment where people can work and coordinate with others to reach specific goals.

A manager can become a leader with appropriate skills, such as excellent communication, encouraging and inspiring employees, keeping a healthy environment, etc. However, it is only possible for some managers to attain leadership skills.

Generally, a manager’s roles and responsibilities are pre-defined and outlined in a job description. They primarily concentrate on meeting an organization’s goal rather than anything else. In addition, they are in charge of hiring, promoting, or rewarding employees based on their performance.

What do Managers Do?

A manager is an employee of an organization with the responsibility of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling resources to accomplish specific goals. Their roles include

  • Planning: Outline a plan to achieve the goals.
  • Organizing: Allocate resources, such as people, money, and required tools.
  • Leading: Direct subordinates about the process to achieve organizational goals.
  • Controlling: Compare actual and expected results and take corrective actions.

Traits of a Manager

  • Execute a Vision: Managers create a roadmap for their team by breaking the vision into small achievable tasks.
  • Direct: With day-to-day responsibilities, they upkeep necessary resources, determine the needs of subordinates, and provide everything they need to achieve goals.
  • Manage: They have the authority to create or establish rules, standards, processes, and operating procedures.
  • People-Focused: They are focused on the people working under them. They strive to cater to the needs of subordinates, listen to them, and involve them while making critical decisions.

Leadership vs Management – Know the Differences

Management is about controlling a group of people to accomplish specific organizational objectives. It ensures that a specific team performs everyday tasks and meets deadlines.

Meanwhile, leadership is the ability to contribute to an organization’s success by motivating, influencing, and inspiring team members. It requires a vision to inspire others to put in their efforts to achieve it.

Parameters Leadership Management
Definition A skill to influence and motivate others to achieve something better. A process of organizing tasks and working on achieving the vision set by leaders with a team of people.
Basis Trust Control
Strategy Proactive Reactive
Formulate Principles and guidelines Policies and procedures
Emphasize Fostering change Bringing stability
Power Influence Rule
Perspective Long-term goals Short-term goals

Let us discuss the difference between these terms in detail below.

1. Process vs Vision

Leaders are visionaries to bring significant changes. They thoroughly analyze where their organization stands and what needs to be done for its growth. They create pathways for team members while inspiring and motivating them to give their best for the organization’s growth.

In contrast, managers work on achieving organizational goals with a definitive process that includes staffing, budgeting, and organizational structures. They primarily work on planning, organizing tasks, and implementing strategies to accomplish the vision set by leaders.

Ultimately, leaders are vision-oriented, while managers are process-oriented.

2. Organizing vs Aligning

Managers often leverage well-organized processes to carry out tasks. They split a specific goal into small, achievable tasks and assign them to team members. In addition, they provide all the necessary resources required to accomplish tasks.

Whereas leaders emphasize aligning and influencing people. They help every team member envision their functions and roles and guide them to take steps toward an organization’s growth.

HBS Professor Anthony Mayo, in his online course Leadership Principles, says,

“Your central function in a leadership position is to mobilize others so they can execute a set of individual and collective tasks.”

Further, scholar Warren Bennis, in his book On Becoming a Leader, states the difference between leader vs manager:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

With honest feedback, leaders empower people and inspire them to believe in themselves.

3. Position vs Quality

A manager has specific roles and responsibilities within an organization’s hierarchy. Being a manager does not make anyone a leader. If your actions inspire others to do something fruitful, you become a leader, regardless of your title in an organization.

With emotional intelligence and self-learning on how to leave an impact on others, leaders have come a long way. They are highly self-aware and can guide others in transforming into better versions of themselves.

Management vs Leadership – Example

Imagine you work as a project manager at a digital marketing agency.

Your everyday tasks include:

  • Supervising client projects.
  • Assigning tasks to various team members.
  • Ensuring the defined process works well and deadlines are met.

On the other hand, the company owner, a leader here, focuses on converting more clients, building healthy relationships with existing clients, and articulating long-term visions and goals leading to the company’s growth and success.

You can see that both roles have different priorities with the ultimate goal of achieving targets and objectives. Both roles play a vital role in an organization’s growth and success.

Wrapping Up!

You can experience management and leadership in organizations; both are bound together. Though used interchangeably and have a few things in common, they are different. Both are different approaches to making employees work together with efficiency and productivity.

While leadership entails articulating visions and taking initiatives to bring change, management is about controlling resources to turn those visions into reality.

I hope you found this article interesting and enlightening. If you have any other points or views, feel free to share them in the comments.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is better, management or leadership?

Both are very important for an organization’s growth. However, leadership involves a broader picture and is ahead of the management.

2. What comes first, leadership or management?

Management is one of the traits of leadership. To be a great leader, one must develop management skills.

3. How are leadership and management related to each other?

The management emphasizes planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling, whereas the leadership directs the functions of management.

4. What are the types of leadership?

The types of leadership include Democratic, Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, Strategic, Transformational, Transactional, and beurocratic.

5. Do leadership and management go hand-in-hand?

Yes, they both go hand-in-hand. Both are required to make an organization successful and take it to the next level.

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