Management vs. Leadership- Why They Aren’t the Same Thing

People automatically assume that just because someone is a manager that they are also a leader.  However, it is necessary to note that these two things are not the same.  There are important distinctions between managing and leading people.  While they are oftentimes complementary of one another, these two words should not be used interchangeably.  Here we will take a close look at the differences between management and leadership.

Leaders are visionaries while managers are goal setters.

Leaders are inspired by their vision and they work to show others that these dreams are possible.  They engage their team in ways that will turn their visions into reality.  They inspire others to think outside the box and be a part of something bigger.  They understand that a team who works together will accomplish much more than any one individual.  Managers are goal setters.  Their primary focus is setting, measuring, and achieving goals.  They assess situations based on whether or not they exceed their expectations.

Leaders are innovative while managers stick with what they know.

Leaders are proud innovators.  They embrace change and they are always looking for ways to make things better.  They aren’t afraid to think outside the box.  Managers, on the other hand, stick with what works.  They follow strict regiments and processes and don’t feel compelled to reinvent the wheel.

Leaders are risk takers while managers try to minimize risk. 

Leaders aren’t afraid to try new things, even if it means failing.  They look at failure as an opportunity for growth.  Managers work to minimize risk.  They are always looking for ways to avoid problems rather than tackling them head on.

Leaders build relationships while managers build systems and processes.

Leaders are highly focused on people.  They are committed to helping people reach their goals and they know that together, they can make their vision become a reality.  They demonstrate empathy and build trusting relationships with their team.  Managers focus on the processes necessary to set and achieve goals.  They work with individuals to help them meet their goals and they do so by having specific systems in place.  Managers are focused on results and what it takes to achieve them.

Leaders coach while managers direct.

Leaders see their employees as competent and they don’t spend time micromanaging them.   Rather, they encourage their employees to find answers on their own because they know this is part of the learning process.  They are optimistic about the potential of their employees and they want nothing more than to see them succeed.  Managers assign tasks and provide guidance on how to accomplish them.  They like things to be done a certain way, and leave very little room for independent thinking.

Managers are responsible for carrying out the important functions of their department including planning, organizing, and controlling all facets of their team.  Their chief focus is to meet goals and objectives.  Great managers, however, also know how to be good leaders.  In addition to their daily tasks, they encourage employees to reach higher aspirations through communication, motivation, inspiration, and guidance.  A leader does not necessarily have to be a manager, but mangers who want to be exceptional should most certainly be good leaders as well.