Leadership & Management – Is There A Difference?

Leadership & Management – Is There A Difference?


Is Leadership and Management the same thing?

Over the years there has been growing acceptance of a distinction between leadership and management. Whilst typical traits associated with one or the other can be listed, mindset and action are also relevant, and it is fair to say that there is no clear dividing line. So how do we tell one from the other?

One distinction between leaders and managers could include where they might sit in an organisation. People will usually consider a ‘manager’ (or management) to be the person an individual, or group, reports to within an organisation, at whatever level. They are usually ‘in charge.’  A leader, by comparison, can be a leader as a team member or without any direct reports.  Leaders are also found in our private lives; family, politicians, athletes, for example.

Would you agree that a leader is often referred to as having ‘followers’? Individuals, whose respect for this person, means they choose to emulate, seek advice from, and spend time interacting with them?  A manager is often referred to as having employees, or ‘direct reports’. Individuals who are required to comply with the requirements of their manager, often irrespective of their own views or level of respect. I am sure we have all worked for, or with, someone who we might not fully respect.

The focus of skills in either can also differ. Individuals utilising their management traits are usually maintaining stability or generating output by focusing on the transactional and administrative nature of the work. When someone is showing up as a leader they can create change or growth by focusing on developing people, themselves, and others, so that others are inspired to follow and forge ahead. They look for creative ideas, new opportunities, and solutions. The same is true if looking at, for example, the Board, whether they are leading the organisation or managing it. They are usually responsible for the culture of the organisation.

What about goals? Well, both will have them, it is the application of goals that will differ. Managers tend to have limited flexibility in decision making, and goals will be output and productivity based. Their focus will be on timings, production levels, resources, and cost. They want to keep everything moving ahead, make low risk decisions, all to avoid disruption.

Leadership goals tend to be shared as a vision or higher strategy. They may have greater risk attached, or a willingness to experience temporary disruption to growth. The focus will be on creation, development, and innovation.

When in charge and working with people, the ‘management’ style will be predominantly authoritarian and directional. Managers will ‘tell’ people what to do, when to do it, and how. Failure to achieve will often be met with corrective action, there may even be a ‘blame’ culture. In managing people there are usually incentives, measurements, rules, and procedures.  Whilst most businesses will have an element of this, the reliance on it will differ greatly.

Leadership traits when working with people, by comparison, encourage greater independence for individuals to achieve self-growth. Skills used will include coaching and mentoring. Leaders also encourage responsible delegation, exploration, enabling others, and accountability in a positive manner.

Managers are not necessarily leaders, leaders are not necessarily good managers, however leaders that excel usually have great management skills.  Both leaders and managers are usually necessary in any organisation to successfully grow. Which do you have and where are they placed in your business? Are they in the right role?

One Life.Your Life.Live It

Simona is a professional leadership coach, trainer, and speaker, working with motivated individuals to create successful professional lives and purposeful personal lives. Her focus is on mindset and strategy.

If you are looking for leadership training or business coaching to develop yourself, or grow your business, please get in touch for bespoke programmes.


About Simona Hamblet

Simona is a specialist coach & hypnotherapist, working with lawyers for the past six years helping them to create the firms & lives that they want. Simona also has over 20 years of experience as an employment solicitor & partner in a dual-office law firm (focusing on staff development & business growth).

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