Difference between Leadership and Management

July 21, 2016 by Editorial Team

For those who thought otherwise, leadership and management is not the same thing. Surely, a manager can also be a good leader and a leader can also be a good manager. But you need to understand that these are separate attributes and that they say different things about the people we describe them by. Keep reading and you might just figure out if you would like to be a good manager or a good leader and what is the difference between the two.


Leadership vs Management

Leadership is a skill which allows some people to successfully lead others into achieving a common goal. The traits usually associated with a good leader are charisma, great vision, intelligence, empathy, great communication skills, a general likability and the ability to think on his/her feet and to take decisions in stressful moments. A good leader draws people to them naturally and does not necessarily perceive this skill as a function. In some cases, this is merely a behavioral pattern paired with a great “take-charge” attitude which asks for no recognition of power or implication in getting something done.

One can be the leader of a family, the spiritual leader of a community, the leader of a group of children. Basically, any group of people brought together by any shared interest has a leader, recognized or not. This person may not always be a “man (or woman) of action” but can also merely have the ability to bring people together in order to get things to happen. A leader is listened to and followed by people willingly, and this is the power of leadership everybody talks about. Notions such as inspiration and building people up usually come to mind when leadership is mentioned.

Management is a function which coordinates the entire activity of a unit, be it business, state institution or any group of people in need of an official representative. Management is taught in schools of the highest level as a social science, and it involves having great time and resource management skills. It is associated with good negotiation skills, a good command of the processes implied and the responsibilities of all of the managed people.

The manager is the person in charge of running an institution, a business. He/she has goals and his/her work must be quantifiable in visible results. He/she is an employee with a job description and with expectations from the business owners. Being placed in a position higher than the other workers, they might not follow naturally and out of their own free will, but they will be bound by contract to do as instructed by the manager.

Leadership vs Management

So what is the difference between leadership and management?

Leadership is a skill whereas management is a position within any form of organization. A leader is naturally accepted and followed by the people, whereas the manager is appointed and has to guide people who may not see him as an authority figure. Usually, people associate the job of a manager with the role of the leader because it is considered that a manager with good leadership skills can get more out of people if they like and accept them as a leader than if they are forced by the organizational structure alone.

Preferable as this might be, in reality, one can be a good manager and have amazing organizational skills, can deal with money and can read people, without being a good leader, liked and accepted, charismatic or inspiring. At the end of the day, a manager’s job is translated into the numbers he/she gets. On the other hand, a leader might not have a position, a high paying job or people to assess his performance. He/she can be a regular person who has a hands-on approach for every situation involving the group of people he is part of.

Comparison Chart

Is a skill anyone can haveIs a job, a function
You can be born with it or educate yourself in this respect during your lifetimeIt is taught as a social science and degrees can be obtained for this position
Implies the ability to lead any group of people toward a shared goalImplies handling the good functioning of any form of organization
Implies having charisma, great vision, intelligence, empathy, great communication skills, courage to decide in the name of othersImplies having great time and resource management skills, a good command of everybody’s job descriptions and the ability to decide on what changes to make to get better results
Is not assessed but generally accepted by others as being a good leaderNeeds to bring in good results and good numbers
People follow leaders naturally, because they feel that they know what they are doingPeople listen to managers because it is their job to know everything about the way the organization works and they should have the best ideas of what to do
A good leader is naturally acceptedAny manager is placed above others in the hierarchic structure of the organization
Not every leader is a managerIt is preferable for every manager to have good leadership skills