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Understanding the Difference Between Leadership and Management

People frequently confuse the difference between leadership and management, yet they are fundamentally distinct. The primary difference between the two is that leaders have followers, whilst managers have employees who merely work for them.

Leadership inspires others to understand and believe in the organisation’s vision and collaborate with you to achieve your objectives, while management is more concerned with overseeing the job and ensuring that the day-to-day operations are carried out as planned.   

What then Is Leadership?

The Oxford Dictionary defines leadership as the action of taking charge of a team or organisation. Leadership is essentially about persuading and motivating a specific set of individuals. Rather than merely ensuring everything goes according to plan, the leader is concerned with supporting and empowering the team throughout the process. In order words, a leader’s primary function or attribute is the ability to move a group of people to achieve set goals.   

 Qualities such as workforce empowerment and flexible decision-making are also essential attributes of leadership— Most people associate leadership with one’s position in an organisation. However, it has nothing to do with titles, management, or personal ambitions. It’s also not limited to personality attributes like good eyesight or a charming, captivating demeanour.   

Leadership requires followers: subordinates who believe in the vision set out by the leadership and who are motivated by the leader and wish to assist them in achieving that vision. Although leadership requires authority, it does not obtain it through a title or a specific position; rather, it is granted willingly by subordinates and other stakeholders.   

What Is Management?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defines management as the art or act of leading or supervising something (like a corporation) or the careful selection of means to achieve a goal.  

In management practices, words such as directing, regulating, organising, and planning are commonly used to describe the technique. The goal of management is to ensure that a particular group of individuals works together to achieve the organisation’s goals. Management and the specified processes to attain the goals are set out by management. The purpose is to accomplish these goals as quickly as feasible.    

Management is responsible for planning and studying objectives and processes, ensuring that the right people are in the correct places, assessing and supervising performance, and finding solutions when problems arise. Management is also in charge of allocating resources for subordinates to complete tasks.

The critical attribute of a leader

  • Integrity and Honesty: these are essential for convincing your employees to believe in you and buy into the journey you’re taking them on.   
  • Inspirational: a good leader motivates their team to perform their best by ensuring they know their place in the bigger picture.  
  • Great communicator: a good leader keeps their team updated on the route, including where they are, where they are going, and any obstructions they may meet.   
  • Visionary: a good leader understands where the team are and where they ought to be, then enlist the team’s help charting a course for the future.   

The critical attribute of a manager

  • Process management: a good manager establishes work norms, processes, standards, and operating procedures through process management.   
  • People-centred: a good manager pays attention to their people’s needs, listens to them, and involves them.   
  • Direction: a good manager directs the day-to-day work efforts, review resources required, and predict demands as they arise.   

The Difference Between Leadership and Management

The Difference Between Leadership And Management

Although leadership and management are sometimes used synonymously, it is important to understand that good leadership is a prerequisite for effective management.  

They do, however, differ in specific ways. Here are a few essential distinctions between leadership and management:   

1. Managers think about execution, whereas leaders think about ideas

A managerial culture emphasises logic and control, whereas leaders are more concerned with finding ways to improve the organisation. They accomplish this through generating fresh ideas and promoting a forward-thinking mindset. Ultimately, managers always look for “how and when” solutions, whereas leaders seek “what and why” answers. Managers relate to individuals based on their function in the decision-making process, whereas leaders, who are more concerned with ideas, relate at a higher level but with empathy. The key difference is between a manager’s emphasis on how things are done and a leader’s emphasis on what has to be done to improve things.  

2. Managers drive success, while leaders inspire the people

While leaders can inspire others, managers are accountable for ensuring employees’ long-term success and a healthy work environment throughout their careers. There is nothing that managers can do to assist their employees to succeed if they are not enthused by what their leaders have to say. Leaders may empower their workforce, gain their followers’ attention, and motivate them to undertake significant organisational projects by creating a personal leadership style through self-reflection, honest communication, and regular feedback.

3. Leaders focus on the future, managers operate in the present

One of the ways that management and leadership differ from one another is that managers are more focused on the now while leaders are more focused on the future. As a result, the manager’s most important task is to achieve organisational goals by implementing budgeting, corporate structuring, and staffing processes and procedures. On the other hand, leaders are more likely to plan ahead and seize future chances. Because one of the most critical drivers of employee engagement and experience in the workplace is a feeling of purpose and the alignment of employees’ personal and professional values, every leader should strive to establish that sense of purpose in their employees.   

4. Managers tell their subordinates what to do, while leaders set expectations

Delegating tasks to team members is a manager’s responsibility. They’re also in charge of ensuring everyone on the team understands their roles and duties. Management’s responsibility is to provide the resources and training that employees require to succeed. Because employees look up to their bosses, a good leader must be a role model. Those in positions of leadership labour to develop the company’s goals and expectations.   

5. Managers execute the vision while leaders set it

Managers and leaders have different responsibilities in creating and carrying out a company’s mission and vision. Managers execute the vision while leaders set it. Most business executives know the direction they want their company to take. They are not the only ones in charge of making that vision a reality. In this scenario, managers are essential. They are accountable for keeping employees aligned with the fundamental corporate values and goals. At the same time, leaders are responsible for transferring the organisation’s purpose, vision, and goals to the entire organisation through effective leadership communication.   

Not everyone in charge of a team is simultaneously a leader and a manager. Both are distinct and must be present to create a successful organisation, and all individuals who contribute to team accomplishment must all be recognised. However, praising particular leaders may encourage individuals to forget that a single person never runs the entire show.   

Lots of people have experience as managers and leaders. After managing people but realising that you can’t force people to follow you down a difficult path, you invariably begin to act as a leader.   

The problem then becomes, how do you identify and build leadership and management within your organisation, ensuring that they lead and manage the team daily? 

To help develop leadership and management in your organisation, Workforce Group is positioned to help build the skills and competencies your leaders require to actively and passionately lead.

If you need further clarifications or require the help of our senior and experienced consultants please reach out to us at hello@workforcegroup.com

Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Director, Workforce Learning

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