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Leadership vs. Management: 6 Key Differences (And Why You Need Both)

temp-post-imageFor an organization to succeed, it needs both good managers and good leaders. A good manager may also be a great leader, and a leader may also be a good manager, however, the two do not necessarily always go hand-in-hand. Leadership is the art of encouraging people to perform assigned tasks willingly, efficiently and effectively. Management is in regards to getting work done on time, on budget and on target. Good managers create competent and productive people. Good leaders create passionate and focused people.


To better understand the differences between management and leadership, think about the daily routines of the managers and leaders in your organization. Managers facilitate 1-on-1’s with their direct reports, creating clear expectations and holding their team accountable for meeting them. Managers also hold team meetings for direction and communication, revisiting and tracking progress towards quarterly goals. Lastly, a manager reviews the actions and results of each individual and team to determine their performance.

A leader’s daily routine is different – they focus on the big picture of the company, helping to inspire others through support and consistency. A leader shows appreciation to team members, give awards and accolades when deserved. A leader also focuses on the personal development of each individual and team, working to foster the communication and feedback needed to make the organization stronger.

While these two rolls are very different, they often go hand in hand. Learn more about how, in 6 key instances, leadership and management are both necessary for a successful organization:


1. Leadership inspires change, management manages transformation.

A leader must set direction and inspire people to follow them. The process of following often requires great change. This is where strong management comes in. It's the manager's job to oversee the work needed to implement the necessary changes and realize the organizational transformation set forth by the leadership.


2. Leadership requires imagination, management requires specifics.

A great leader can cultivate their imagination to inform their vision. It helps them to "see" what can be. Managers must understand that vision and drive their teams to do the specific work necessary to accomplish what has been expressed.


3. Leadership requires abstract thinking, management requires concrete data.

By definition, abstract thinking enables a person to make connections among, and see patterns within, seemingly unrelated information. The ability to think abstractly comes in very handy when reimaging what an organization can become. Conversely, a manager must be able to work with, and analyze, concrete data in order to ensure optimal results.


4. Leadership requires understanding of the external environment, management requires understanding of how work gets done inside the organization.

A leader must understand the business environment in which the enterprise operates so to better anticipate opportunities and evade misfortune, while a manager is relied on to figure out how to get things done using the resources available to the business.


5. Leadership requires confidence in the face of uncertainty, management requires blind commitment to completing the task at hand.

A leader's life is filled with uncertainty. They're setting a course for their company in unchartered waters. Once the course is set, managers are duty-bound to follow the stated direction and commit to delivering the results expected.


6. Leadership is accountable to the entire organization, management is accountable to the team.

Finally, leaders must consider the impact of their decisions on the whole organization. A misstep can bring an entire business to its knees. It's a huge responsibility. Accordingly, managers are responsible for their teams. They must ensure that their teams are prepared to deliver and that each member is equipped to do what is required for success.

Often, the best leaders lead and let others manage; while the best managers understand their leader's vision and work with their teams to achieve it. Your business needs people with both kinds of skills and aptitudes to secure enduring success. Take the time to understand these differences so to build an organization that leverages each to the fullest.

What’s the first step towards being a better leader and manager? Start by managing yourself and leading yourself. If you can’t lead or manage yourself, why would others allow you to lead and manage them? Set high standards for your own behavior and hold yourself accountable. Celebrate your wins and focus on your own professional development as a leader.

For more information on how to better implement leadership and management within your organization, contact me today.