Leadership and management are often conflated as being the same thing. There may be a huge overlap between them, a leader and a manager shouldn’t be interchanged as each have their own unique set of core values, skills, and function in a team.
What is Leadership? It is an action or position where one leads a group, or organization. It can also be defined as a process of social influence, that helps others towards the achievement of shared goals.
What is Management? This deals with the process of managing with, or dealing with a group of factors—which could involve things or people. It focuses on setting strategies that organizes and coordinates the efforts of employees to accomplish a goal.
Leadership Vs. Management: What’s The Difference?
Both leaders and managers are an absolute necessity in any workplace. Good leaders help companies towards achieving their mission and vision, while good managers make sure employees have proper motivation, and that everything is aligned with company goals. A great leader may have the position of a manager, while sometimes a manager may possess good leadership skills, but both fill very different roles.
1. Truths About Leaders
A great leader has an almost mythic status—no wonder leadership qualities are written into the best heroes. A leader of an organization paves the path for his employees, and uses creativity to achieve goals. Here are four truths about leaders:
- They have visionary minds - Leaders have a clear vision for the future of their organization. Using forward-planning, they are able to capitalize on opportunities that lay on a more promising horizon.
- They come up with new ideas - Because they have a deep understanding of their organization, leaders are constantly thinking of new ideas to improve organizational goals.
- They inspire - A strong leader is able to inspire his employees and allow them to see the bigger picture when it comes to the organization’s goals.
- They shape company culture - Leaders not only inspire, but also shape a company’s culture and status quo. Not only are leaders responsible for upholding their company’s values, they should also set an example for employees.
Tip: Successful leaders don’t neglect to keep an open line of communication with their employees. When communication is open, honest, and transparent, employees feel more supported and less stressed in the work they do.
2. Truths About Managers
Managers are somehow held in a less favorable light than leaders, but every successful organization is helmed by a great manager. While leaders are at the forefront inspiring employees, managers work in the background making sure goals are met and organizational structure is running smoothly. Here are four truths about managers:
- They live and work in the present - A good manager focuses on what needs to be done at present and makes sure everyone is working towards the organization’s goal.
- They keep everything aligned - Managers work on a foundation of control and rational thinking. They focus on a lot of problem-solving to ensure that the workforce operates efficiently and productively.
- They focus on the bottom line - A manager’s decision-making is focused on the bottom line and the “how” of getting things done to get there.
- They drive success and ensure compliance - Because a manager has a closer relationship to employees, they are responsible for making sure employees have positive experience at work, while making sure they comply with the organization’s mission, vision, and goals at the same time.
Tip: While a manager is responsible for making sure a leader’s vision is fulfilled, it is also important to pay close attention to the needs of employees. Constant and close communication that will enable employees for success is something that shouldn’t escape a manager’s attention.
"It is also important to pay close attention to the needs of employees."
3. Leadership vs Management: Team Jump Starts
Leadership and management both have different approaches in shaping and directing a team. Management processes usually involve some form of control over a team—but not in a disparaging way. Managers focus on rationality and the stability of a team for peak productivity, while a leader focuses on passion, innovation, and taking risks.
The old-fashioned view of managers is that their responsibilities consist only of delegation to subordinates, and hiring and firing of employees.
However, this manner of management is both inefficient and ineffective. The well-being of a team is as crucial to any project as it directly influences the work they put out.
Many modern management strategies have since involved looking after the well-being of their employees to keep them motivated, and to keep the machine running smoothly.
Leadership strategies on the other hand come from a more idealistic standpoint. Because they stand at the helm of a group or organization and shape its vision and ideals, leaders seek to be innovative and inspiring. There is a danger of becoming alienated from employees, which is why constant communication is a must to keep leaders grounded and up-to-date on the goings on from every level.
Tip: Any manager is in a good position of becoming a leader through a shift in perspective and flexibility. Communicating with honesty and empathy, as well as acknowledging the human element that goes into any job can elevate anyone’s management skills into true leadership skills.
4. Why Do We Do What We Do?
The negative traits that are often associated with managers often stem from what is actually a very human response to fear. Any project or end-goal is filled with specific standards to be met, deadlines to be reached, and tasks to be accomplished. Having one of these things derailed could come with huge consequences and failure of reaching a goal.
This fear of failure is what drives many managers to look at projects from a task-based perspective. This also leads to many managers to seek to quantify value on the basis of what already works. They prefer not to take risks because failure is not an option.
Managers would have to overcome their fear of risk and failure if they want to truly become leaders to their teams.
Leadership has little to do with controlling its team. Instead, leadership employs a strategy that is based on trust and empathy.
Tip: Using an empathic strategy isn’t just effective—it’s more profitable! Motivated employees are proven to work faster and produce better results.
5. Leadership vs Management: What They Have in Common
While leadership and management mean different things, they have a lot of shared functions:
- Communication - This is probably the most crucial of functions in any organization. With proper communication, employees can be informed about a company’s plans, goals, and direction. Communication also encourages empathy, keeps everyone feeling heard and empowered, and builds a strong working relationship with each other.
- Crisis Management - During times of crisis, leadership and management work together to adapt quickly and stay on track of their goals.
- Problem Resolution - The ability to solve problems and make decisions are both leadership and management responsibilities. A leader may be executing that on a company-wide level, while a manager may be doing the same, but at a departmental level.
"Communication also encourages empathy, keeps everyone feeling heard and empowered, and builds a strong working relationship with each other."
Simply having the desire to effectively lead others in the pursuit of a goal is a good entry point to transitioning from manager to leader. Knowing how to adapt to change, delegating work to improve workflow, and knowing when to boost your team are good skills to learn and hone.