What’s the Difference Between Leadership and Management?

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Many wonder about the differences between leadership and management. Are they mutually exclusive? Do professionals have both qualities—or do they learn one or the other over a long period of time? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we will take a look at both.

What is Leadership? What is Management?

The words “leader” and “manager” are among the most commonly used words in business and are often used interchangeably. But have you ever wondered what the terms actually mean? 

What Do Managers Do?

A manager is the member of an organization with the responsibility of carrying out the four important functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. But are all managers leaders?

Most managers also tend to be leaders, but only IF they also adequately carry out the leadership responsibilities of management, which include communication, motivation, providing inspiration and guidance, and encouraging employees to rise to a higher level of productivity.

Unfortunately, not all managers are leaders. Some managers have poor leadership qualities, and employees follow orders from their managers because they are obligated to do so—not necessarily because they are influenced or inspired by the leader.

Managerial duties are usually a formal part of a job description; subordinates follow as a result of the professional title or designation. A manager’s chief focus is to meet organizational goals and objectives; they typically do not take much else into consideration. Managers are held responsible for their actions, as well as for the actions of their subordinates. With the title comes the authority and the privilege to promote, hire, fire, discipline, or reward employees based on their performance and behavior.

What Do Leaders Do?

The primary difference between management and leadership is that leaders don’t necessarily hold or occupy a management position. Simply put, a leader doesn’t have to be an authority figure in the organization; a leader can be anyone.

Unlike managers, leaders are followed because of their personality, behavior, and beliefs. A leader personally invests in tasks and projects and demonstrates a high level of passion for work. Leaders take a great deal of interest in the success of their followers, enabling them to reach their goals to satisfaction—these are not necessarily organizational goals.

There isn’t always tangible or formal power that a leader possesses over his followers. Temporary power is awarded to a leader and can be conditional based on the ability of the leader to continually inspire and motivate their followers. 

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