The Difference Between Management and Leadership

Is a good manager automatically a good leader?  These terms are often used interchangeably when in fact they are quite different.  While the two certainly do go hand in hand, the main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people who follow them while managers have people who work for them.  Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision while managing is more about making sure the day-to-day duties are being handled as they should.  In order for a business to truly be successful, it requires both strong management and leadership. 

Key Characteristics and Responsibilities of Managers

The manager’s job is to plan, organize, and coordinate.  They need to have the ability to direct the day-to-day work efforts of employees and make sure they are providing the tools necessary for employees to successfully meet goals and objectives.  Managers are held responsible for the performance of their team so it is their job to make sure they clearly communicate all duties and expectations.  In addition to outlining clear objectives, the manager is responsible for establishing work rules, processes, and operating procedures.  Their focus is primarily on systems and structure and they always have their eye on the bottom line.  The manager is the one who oversees projects, evaluates performance, and seeks to maximize the efficiency of their employees.

Key Characteristics and Responsibilities of Leaders

A leader’s job is to inspire and motivate.  Rather than outlining duties and expectations, leaders personally invest in tasks and projects and demonstrate a strong passion for their work.  They take a great deal of interest in the success of their followers and they truly care about helping them reach their goals.  Leaders typically have a strong vision and focus more on the horizon as opposed to the here and now.  They are always looking ahead and tend to involve their team in focusing on the future path and direction of the company.  They aren’t afraid to challenge their followers to think outside the box and they tend to be more innovative as opposed to managers who are more organized.  Typically managers maintain what is already established while leaders focus on the long-term vision.  Unlike managers who tend to rely more on control to get tasks done, leaders rely more on inspiring trust and they know how to push their employees to do their best. 

Managers and leaders are equally important but when you can find both qualities in the same person it is like hitting the jackpot.  In today’s economy it takes more than just managing people to reach success.  It also requires leading people.  Someone who is both a manager and a leader will play to the strengths and knowledge of each individual…ultimately leading to greater productivity.