Leadership Vs Management

The terms ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ are often used interchangeably when describing organisational processes, however, appreciating their differences and utilising their individual strengths are key to maximising business performance. Leaders and managers must complement each other to ensure long-term success, but their responsibilities should not be confused.

Leadership is generally defined as creating a vision and inspiring support for it, for example influencing your staff to get behind a new production system. Drucker (1996) says that “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers”, emphasising the importance of inspiring others in being a good leader. The skill of management, on the other hand, is in making this vision a reality, by delegating tasks and assigning specific roles to your employees.

Clearly, successfully executing any strategy requires both of these roles and hence understanding the difference between the two terms is crucial. Often the two terms are used interchangeably in the workplace and this can have serious consequences. It is also often believed that the term ‘leader’ only refers to people at the top, however this is not true. It is essential to have ‘leaders’ throughout the organisation and some degree of leadership should be shown by every individual. The notion that leadership is heavily linked to personality/charisma is also not true, and, although some of leadership is natural, it can also be learned.

Both management and leadership are vital for ensuring long-term success in a company, but confusing the two terms also has the potential to reduce efficiency and performance dramatically.

Simon Sinek, one of our favourite leadership authors, has written an excellent book on this topic. Click here to read find out more.

Drucker, Peter F. (1974) Management. New York: Harper & Row, 1974. Print.

Hesselbein, Frances, Marshall Goldsmith, and Richard Beckhard. The Leader Of The Future. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996. Print.

Kotter, John P. (2013). Management is (Still) Not Leadership. Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2013/01/management-is-still-not-leadership. 18 Jan 2016