What Are The Differences Between Leadership And Management?

What Are The Differences Between Management And Leadership
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Summary: Is being a manager the same as being a leader? Read on to discover the main differences between leadership and management.

How Is A Leader Different Than A Manager?

Often, we see the terms "leadership" and "management" being used interchangeably in the business world. This is because we have grown accustomed to thinking that any person that manages a team also provides leadership by default. But that is not always the case. Once we look closely at the concepts of leadership and management, we will realize that there are a few variances between them, some subtle and others more pronounced. So, let's delve into this article and explore the main differences between management and leadership.

What Are The Definitions Of Leadership And Management?

To understand how leadership is different from management, it's best to start with the definitions of the two terms.

Leadership refers to the process of influencing those around you to motivate them to achieve a goal. Effective leaders are involved in big-picture projects, capturing a vision and passing it to their teams, inspiring them to take action, and giving them the necessary tools to stay on the course of success. Leaders set long-term goals, always look to the future, initiate change, and share an overall purpose that drives their followers forward.

Although leadership is an essential element of management, managers are the ones who will translate the vision into action. They will coordinate the moving parts of an organization so that every employee has clear responsibilities and their everyday work contributes to a larger goal. Managers have many responsibilities that pertain to the daily routine of the organization, such as budgeting, planning, problem solving, and staffing. Their ability to utilize available resources the best way possible and set achievable goals is what keeps organizations efficient and successful.

4 Main Differences Between Leadership And Management

1. Creating The Vision Vs. Executing It

Leaders view their organizations from an all-encompassing perspective. This gives them the ability to analyze all functions and define what the future should and can look like. They are strategists and visionaries with an eye for change, growth, and success. However, reaching the long-term goals set by leaders can be a very complex process. That's where managers enter with their advanced organizational skills. They are the ones who will break up the vision into actionable steps and overlook their implementation so that daily operations are unencumbered and the budget is not surpassed.

2. Dealing With People Vs. Processes

Leaders are in charge of sharing their visions and goals with their teams and inspiring them to work toward them. In fact, their ability to give their people a purpose is the main thing that sets them apart from managers. Additionally, leadership means taking the necessary steps to keep employees satisfied and productive. Many businesses suffer from high employee turnover and absenteeism due to bad leadership. On the other hand, while managers, too, have teams that they direct, their main focus is often on processes. They delegate tasks, allocate company resources, and make decisions to check items off the daily task list and promote organizational goals.

3. Developing Change Vs. Bringing Stability

Leaders are not afraid to shake things up and take risks to advance their vision. And in the constantly changing circumstances of the business world, traits such as adaptability and innovation are crucial. Nevertheless, this risk-taking mentality can't be exhibited by too many people in an organization. In fact, managers must bring balance to the business by ensuring stability in daily operations. Once this is accomplished, leaders can make sure that their organization is always ready to take on any unexpected challenges without sacrificing the sense of security that is essential for employees to remain productive.

4. Inspiring Vs. Instructing

We've already mentioned that both leadership and management involve directing a group of people. But there is a distinct difference between how leaders and managers perform this. Specifically, leaders have a following that believes in their ideas and is willing to do what is necessary to promote them. On the other hand, managers have subordinates that they instruct so that everyday tasks are not left incomplete. Seeing as they don't have an overarching purpose to share, the motivation and inspiration they can provide is minimal.

Where The Lines Overlap

Despite the differences that exist between leadership and management, there are also a few responsibilities they share. Firstly, leaders and managers need to communicate effectively with their teams through meetings, conversations, feedback exchanges, and more. This way, they ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal. In addition to that, they both implement change management and decision making, although they might be at a different scale. Leaders usually face changes that radically affect the industry or the way things operate and thus are called to adapt their vision. In turn, managers need to determine how to prepare employees for these changes and best control the situation to maintain stability.


In this article, we explored the main differences between leadership and management and how those are expressed in an organization. It is evident that both leaders and managers are crucial to the smooth running of a business environment, as together they achieve a perfect balance between innovation and stability, people management and project management, being proactive and reactive, and so on. Hopefully, we have encouraged you to appreciate both as well as research training solutions to support their continuous development.