Explain The Difference Between Leadership And Management Essay

  • Tips

    • Leadership and management must go hand in hand.
    • Workers need their managers not just to assign tasks but to define purpose.
    • Managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.

Leadership and management must go hand in hand. They are not the same thing. But they are necessarily linked, and complementary. Any effort to separate the two is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

Still, much ink has been spent delineating the differences. The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of the differences:

– The manager administers; the leader innovates.

– The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

– The manager maintains; the leader develops.

– The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

– The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

– The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

– The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

– The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

– The manager imitates; the leader originates.

– The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.

– The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

– The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Perhaps there was a time when the calling of the manager and that of the leader could be separated. A foreman in an industrial-era factory probably didn’t have to give much thought to what he was producing or to the people who were producing it. His or her job was to follow orders, organize the work, assign the right people to the necessary tasks, coordinate the results, and ensure the job got done as ordered. The focus was on efficiency.

But in the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.

The late management guru Peter Drucker was one of the first to recognize this truth, as he was to recognize so many other management truths. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized.

With the rise of the knowledge worker, “one does not ‘manage’ people,” Mr. Drucker wrote. “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.”

Leadership versus management, isn’t it the same thing?


Leaders set goals and direction, challenging the norm, and seeking new ways of working towards goals.

Managers on the other hand maintain the status quo.

They specialise on conformance to the standard.

They manage their teams and individuals.

And they organise, direct and control to achieve goals.

The Paradox

Leadership versus management, although relatively easy to distinguish between the two, is complex because many people are both. The Manager has the unfortunate paradox of controlling systems, resource and standards.

They have to ensure that everywith works to plan and that all is in order. But it doesn't stop their. They have to also lead teams to achieve unchartered boundaries and new ways of working.

If you think about it and based on theories of Leadership, dictating through an autocratic management style will not win the hearts and minds of individuals. This in turn will create more damage than good for the long term, so Leadership plays an important role in leading and motivating the teams to achieve new things.

Management normally focuses on work and tasks. These activities fit within the subject of resource: Human, time, Money, and equipment, including:

  • Planning – Planning resource and tasks to achieve the objectives
  • Budgeting – Managing the constraints of budgets in the department / project
  • Organising – Organising support functions and resource
  • Controlling – Controlling the standards required to deliver the objectives
  • Coordinating – Coordinating and directing project tasks for achievement of goals
  • Resource use – Ensuring effective resource is used for the task at hand
  • Time management – Ensuring tasks and activities are conducted within the correct time frame
  • Decision Making – Making the right decisions in the heat of the moment
  • Problem Solving – Ensure problems are contained and eliminated




Leadership focuses on achieving nice shiny goals, keeping the team motivated and empowered to achieve as much as they can.

It’s also about getting the best out of each individual for the benefit of the team.

It’s about leading by example, inspiring, empowerment.

It’s about creating the most conducive environment for team success:

  • Vision– focusing on the long term vision or goal
  • Motivation – Motivation and empowerment to challenge the norm
  • Inspiration – Inspiring others through merely leading and injecting enthusiasm
  • Persuasion – Using excellent leadership skills to bring people willingly along the correct path
  • Team work – Encouraging effort and commitment, and teamwork
  • Building Relationships – Building strong relationships and ensuring the team is well balanced
  • Listening – Being able to listen and get the root causes quickly and effectively
  • Counselling – Ensuring that every member of the team is motivated and effectively empowered
  • Coaching – Encouraging and giving freedom for individuals to learn and grow
  • Teaching – Leading the correct performance and expectations
  • Mentoring – Being the leader in a successful team and parting knowledge and wisdom onto the team and its individuals

Leadership versus management table to compare the two

The bottom line is; as a leader / manager, you must adopt both stances.

Sometimes you may have to ensure that performance is to plan (managing goals). And other times, you may need to set knew goals and inspire new ways of thinking.

Unfortunately, it is not either / or; it’s both.

Those that think it’s an either / or, will hamper the development and motivation of the team:


  • Lead too much, with little standards, and you risk a rule of chaos and little discipline.
  • Manage too much and you stifle morale by being an authoritarian manager.


If you think you’re just a manager, then chances are you are missing a load of opportunity to achieve new heights of team success. Also, if this is you, spend some time finding out what your employees think of you and how they feel in their roles.

Chances are, they may not be that impressed.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you think you are just a leader, then there may be some things you may be missing out on, and that could be structure and systems to support the team.

If you lack management skills, then you may be seen as too informal and off the hoof in decision making. You may not have a handle on the things that keep the team and business moving forward.

The bottom line is that you need to mix both up. The best leaders and managers are interchangeable. Often though, too many are either / or. They mis vital tasks to really drive team success.

Where are you? Take note of each line item in the diagram above, and identify where you need to improve and when and begin to take action.

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