Differences between management and leadership
This is a detailed examination of the differences between management and leadership. Many writers opine that a manager is someone who manages people and resources to achieve organizational goals, whereas a leader inspires people to action, achieves organizational goals, and builds strong relationships with others. However, these two concepts are not mutually exclusive and can work together.
Definition of leadership
Leadership may be defined as the capacity to influence people, by means of personal attributes and/or behaviours, to achieve a common goal (CIPD, 2019).
According to Kotter (1996) leadership defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles. Leadership is indeed a process that provides direction and motivation for people to accomplish their goals.
Definition of management
‘Management is the process of setting and achieving goals through five basic functions that acquire and utilize human, financial material, and information resources. The five basic functions are planning, organising, staffing, directing, and controlling’ (Attner and Plunkett, 1994, p.8).
A manager is an individual who is entrusted with overseeing one or more employees or departments to ensure that these employees/departments carry out the assigned duties as required.
Differences between management and leadership
There is a debate pertaining to the nature of the differences between management and leadership. Hardesty (2011) opines that leadership and management must go hand in hand. While they are not the same thing, they are linked with each other and complementary. Efforts to blatantly separate them may cause many conceptual and practical problems.
The first major difference between a manager and a leader is the scope of their responsibility. The scope of their responsibilities will vary from one to another; however, managers usually set goals and objectives for those they oversee, while leaders establish goals for those they oversee as well as those who report to them.
Zaleznik (20004) came up with some very interesting ideas concerning the differences between leadership and management. He sees managers embracing process, seeking stability and control, and instinctively trying to settle problems quickly—sometimes before they fully understand a problem’s implication. Conversely, leaders tolerate chaos and lack of structure and are ready to delay closure in order to understand the issues more fully.
People can become managers by virtue of their positions; however, they need excellent personal qualities to be considered as leaders by the followers. This shows that the sources of power of the two are different. Managers’ power come from structures, whereas leaders’ power come from their personal qualities.
Managers are often concerned with the goals of their organizations, whereas leaders work hard for the betterment and satisfaction of their followers. Managers are also typically focused on concrete results and metrics. Leaders, on the other hand, look for long-term results that bring about change in their organisation. Additionally, leaders use less formal language and are more conversational than managers.
Leaders are often the ones who have a vision. They believe in what they do, and their passion is transmittable. They are more flexible and adaptable than managers so they can make swift decisions without getting bogged down by bureaucracy. Managers, on the other hand, focus more on the day-to-day tasks like scheduling meetings, maintaining budgets, etc.
So, what is the difference between leadership and management? As expressed above, these two concepts can work together well. Management requires leadership skills, and leadership requires management skills too. Some people have a mix of both qualities in their leadership style or leadership approach. However, as long as the scope is concerned, it can be said that leadership is about influencing culture, mindset, and behavior. On the other hand, management is about getting the work done.
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Last update: 02 February 2022
Attner, R. and Plunkett, W. (1994) Introduction to Management, 5th edition. USA: International Thomson Publishing
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CIPD (2019) Leadership, available from http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/leadership.aspx (Accessed 08 October 2019)
Hardesty, C. (2011) What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?, available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-is-the-difference-between-management-and-leadership?tesla=y (accessed 02 January 2022)
Kotter, J. (1996) Leading Change, 1st edition, Harvard Business School Press
Zaleznik, A. (20004). Managers and Leaders: Are they different? available at: https://hbr.org/2004/01/managers-and-leaders-are-they-different (accessed o1 February 2022)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.