Leadership and management are often conflated as being the same thing. There may be a huge overlap between them, but not all leaders are managers, and not every manager is a leader.
A leader and a manager shouldn’t be interchanged as each have their own unique set of core values, skill sets, and functions in a team. Leaders are focused on developing a clear vision and inspiring others to achieve it, while managers are focused on executing tasks and ensuring that everyone is working effectively.
In this blog post, we'll explore five things you should know about leadership vs management.
Leadership vs Management: What’s the Difference?
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What Is Leadership?
There is no one answer to the question, "What is leadership?" That's because leadership can take many different forms.
In general, though, leadership can be defined as the process of inspiring and leading people to work together to achieve a common goal.
Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be found in every type of organization, from businesses and non-profits to schools and government agencies. What all effective leaders have in common is the ability to inspire employee engagement by creating a shared vision and motivating employees to achieve it.
If you're looking to develop strong leadership skills, start by thinking about what kind of leader you want to be. Do you want to be the kind of leader who motivates others with a strategic vision of a better future? Or do you prefer to lead by example, demonstrating your own dedication and commitment to the cause?
There are many different ways to lead effectively, so find the style that works best for you. And remember: good leadership is not about having all the answers; it's about empowering employees to find their own solutions.
Qualities of a Leader
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 organizational goals.
Here are six truths about leaders:
Leaders Have Visionary Minds
Good leaders see the potential in people and situations, and they are able to articulate a vision that inspires others to action. But what exactly is a visionary mind? And how can you tell if you have one?
A visionary mind is able to see beyond the here and now. It can imagine future possibilities, and it is not constrained by current realities.
A visionary mind is also creative. Leaders with visionary minds are able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Furthermore, a visionary mind is disciplined. It understands that bringing a vision to fruition requires hard work and dedication.
Leaders Come Up with New Ideas
Without new ideas, an organization can quickly become stagnant and stuck in its ways. A good leader is always on the lookout for ways to improve the status quo, whether it’s by implementing processes or finding a more efficient way to do things.
Leaders Inspire People
Strong leaders have the power to motivate and excite others. This is because they understand that people are more than just cogs in a machine--they're individuals with their own dreams and aspirations. And when people feel valued and understood, they're more likely to give their all to achieve shared goals.
Leaders Shape Company Culture
Company culture is the personality of a business. It's what makes employees want to stay at a company for years and even decades.
Leaders shape company culture by embodying the values they want to see in their employees. They hire people who fit the culture, and they create an environment where everyone can be themselves.
When leaders are open and transparent, it sets the tone for the whole organization. Employees feel like they can trust their leaders, and they know that their leaders have their best interests at heart.
As a result, they're more likely to go above and beyond for the company.
Leaders Are Decisive
Leaders have to make tough decisions--and they have to make them quickly. They can't agonize over every little detail; they have to trust their gut and go with their intuition.
Of course, that doesn't mean that leaders don't carefully consider all the options before making a decision. But once they've weighed all the pros and cons, they're able to commit to a course of action and see it through to the end.
Leaders Take Calculated Risks
Leaders know that sometimes you have to take risks to achieve success. They're not afraid to step out of their comfort zones, and they're always looking for new ways to challenge themselves and their teams.
However, leaders don't take risks just for the sake of it. They carefully consider the potential rewards and risks of each decision before taking action.
This ensures that they're only taking risks that have a high chance of paying off, and that any potential setbacks won't be too devastating.
What Is Management?
Management is the process of overseeing and planning the work of other people so that their activities are completed efficiently and effectively.
In many organizations, management is a hierarchy, with different levels of managers responsible for different areas of the business.
For example, a company might have lower-level managers who each oversees a specific department, as well as general managers who oversee the day-to-day operations, establish work rules and operating procedures, and are tasked with the tactical processes that keep the business running smoothly.
In other organizations, management may be more flat, with all employees working together to achieve the company's goals.
Regardless of the organizational structuring, all managers share the same goal: to get the work done in an efficient and effective manner. Typically, this involves setting goals, planning and scheduling work, coordinating resources, and monitoring progress.
Qualities of a Manager
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 six truths about managers:
Managers Live and Work in the Present
Being a manager requires living in the present and looking ahead. A good manager is always thinking about what's next and how to move forward. They're also able to pursue important organizational initiatives, take on daily tasks and responsibilities, juggle multiple projects, and work well under pressure.
Managers Keep Everything Aligned
A manager is like the spine of a vertebrate animal; they keep everything aligned.
A project manager, for example, keeps the project team informed and aligned with the project objectives. They make sure that everyone is aware of what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by.
A product manager keeps the development team aligned with the latest market trends. They need to make sure that the product they are developing is actually something that people want to buy.
A brand manager keeps the marketing team aligned with the company's core values. This ensures that all of the company's marketing efforts are in line with what the company stands for.
Managers Have Their Eyes on the Bottom Line
A good manager focuses on the bottom line. They understand that every decision made by the company needs to be driven by this overall goal. This means making tough decisions, such as cutting costs or laying off staff. However, it also means making sure that the company is generating enough revenue to meet its bottom line.
Managers Build Strong Teams
A manager knows that a company is only as strong as its team. They invest time and resources into building a strong team, and they work to create an environment where everyone can thrive.
This includes hiring the right people, providing training and professional development opportunities, and setting clear expectations. It also means creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued and respected.
Managers Delegate Effectively
Managers know that they can't do everything themselves. They delegate tasks and responsibilities to others, and they trust that these individuals will complete the work in a timely and effective manner.
They also know how to give feedback, both positive and negative. This helps employees learn from their mistakes and become better at their jobs.
Managers Drive Success and Ensure Compliance
Good managers are able to drive success by keeping their team motivated and on track. At the same time, they need to be able to ensure compliance with the law and company regulations. It's a delicate balance, but a manager knows how to walk the line.
What Is the Difference between Leadership Strategies and Management Strategies?
Leadership and management both have different approaches in shaping and directing a team.
Management processes usually involve some form of controlling employees—but not in a disparaging way. Managers focus on rationality and the stability of a team for peak productivity, while an effective 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. However, there is a danger of becoming alienated from employees, which is why constant, two-way communication is a must to keep leaders grounded and up-to-date on the goings on from every level.
Why Leaders and Managers Do What They 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 emotional intelligence.
Pro Tip: Using an empathic strategy isn’t just effective—it’s more profitable! Motivated employees are proven to work faster and produce better results.
What Do Leadership and Management Have in Common?
While leadership and management mean different things, there are some personality traits that are essential for both roles. They also have a lot of shared functions:
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 Skills
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, it's more important than ever for leaders and managers to have strong crisis management skills.
Being able to effectively handle crises can mean the difference between a successful outcome and a complete disaster.
Crisis management skills include the ability to stay calm under pressure, make quick decisions, and develop and implement a plan of action. Managers/leaders who are able to master these skills will be better prepared to handle any situation that comes their way.
The ability to solve problems and make decisions are both leadership and management characteristics. A leader may be executing that on a company-wide level, while a manager may be doing the same, but at a departmental level.
The debate of leadership vs management will continue as long as there are organizations and groups to lead and manage. And while there are some clear differences between the two, there are also many similarities.
In the end, what's most important is that you have a clear understanding of what each term means and which one best describes your role within your organization. With this knowledge, you can then focus on honing your skills and becoming the best leader or manager you can be!