The Differences between Leadership and Management

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There exists complexity in the current organizational structures. Different organizations are digging harder with the aim of determining a distinctive feature or approach to beat their competitors. This has resulted in identification of roles and characteristics of two critical influential domains of command in organizations: leadership and management. The topic on their differences is contentious with different researchers, giving their perceptions about their take of the topic. Among the core issues in this topic, include whether leaders are managers and vice versa, what differentiates their roles in the workplace? Most importantly, should organizations have the two “heads”: leaders and managers? These are the driving questions in differentiating leadership from management. Current paper aims at delineating a coherent insight on this topic through in-depth evaluation of the available literature.
Different researchers have explored this topic, giving their opinion and evaluation. The most moving question towards this topic is why there cannot be one person to hold the two positions in an organization. Intriguingly, most organizations think that leaders should assume the managerial roles, while at the same time, some organization expects their managers to carry leadership functions. The main reason why some organizations perform better than other is behind understanding the differences between leadership and management. Distinct roles bestowed to these two dockets have considerable influences on the performance, hence the need to understand them. However, despite the existence of differences between leadership and management, several roles and functions override each other on the two dockets, hence creating a dilemma on a clear cut of the topics.
In order to understand the differences between leadership and management, the primary step is defining who is a leader and who is a manager in an organization. Leaders are individuals who have followers, while managers get things organized with the aim of achieving the aspired goals. To have followers, a leader needs to influence people in a motivational way, hence ensuring that they have trust in him/ her being their leader. Therefore, leadership is simply influencing people to follow your vision or dream in an organization. Managers try to coordinate the available resources with the goal in mind. Consequently, management is more or less implementing the bigger dream, born by the leadership cadre. In so doing, the two dockets complements each other, resulting to a successful organization. These goals cannot be innovated without leadership mind. Most interestingly, management has to organize the resources in a manner that will potentiate achieving goals set.
A common ground held by the different researchers on this topic is that leadership and management are distinct though complementary facets in an organization. Management is highly involved in maintaining the status quo of an organization, while leadership entails transforming the organization. This implies that the roles ascribed to managers focus on ensuring the survival of the organization on a daily basis. Therefore, management focuses more on maintaining a harmonized environment using available resources. Leaders are deemed to do the right things, while managers do things right. This implies that leadership is focused on ensuring that the right things are introduced into the organization. This aims at cementing the organization for the future purposes, while management entails doing things right to achieve the goals. Without effective leadership, the future growth and development of an organization is doomed. On the same footing, ineffective management impairs organizational success. Unless the future of the organization is well defined (by the leaders), and the present efficiently organized and coordinated, an organization progress will not improve.
Management is argued to be a scientific approach, one that can easily be influenced through learning and experience. However, leadership is a contentious issue with theorist holding different position in respect to leadership being nature or nurture in origin. It is argued that management is highly flexible, compared to leadership. Since, management is dependent on the resources available and the fact that functions involved focus on a given direction. In contrast, leadership has to be highly vibrant, innovative and influential, in order to achieve motivating, feasible and attainable visions and goals. Leadership may be viewed as being innovative, while management is more of implementation than creativity. Leadership has to direct the organization actions through their vision and influence followers to believe in the vision. Conversely, management aims at coming up with consummate means on how these means can be achieved.
In the line of human development and networking, leadership involves aligning organization, encouraging the creation of groups and partnerships that can steer the organization forward. On the other hand, management will entail organizing and staffing in the organization, distributing responsibilities and duties to the workers, and implementing the vision. In addition, management is associated with the formulation of policies, laws and outlining directions for achieving the vision, while leadership develops strategic plans for the organization. On the issue of managing people, leaders motivate the juniors to achieve their best, hence increasing employee chances while, at the same time, encouraging high emotion, as compared to management. Management tries to limit employees’ choices to avoid conflicts, thus displaying low emotions.
Leadership in an organization energizes individual towards achieving goals hence motivating with the aim of overcoming any barrier trail of conquering the vision. This motivation and inspiration may lead to people taking high risks. The case with management is different since management controls processes and coordinate its people as part of the available resources. Management entails taking surmountable risk that will not tamper with progress of the organization. In addition, managers monitor results with the aim of making adjustment on the process of production, hence potentiating high returns. In so doing, management entails identifying problems in the process of production and planning feasible approaches of overcoming these problems. This is a different form of leadership, which is argued to be the ‘initiator’ of the problems in the organization through the need to reach the sky.
The idea about the development of the organization is another platform where leadership and management differ. Leadership will passionately display their personal concerning an institutional visions or goal, hence moving the mass towards achieving these goals. It makes leaders own organization’s vision and their passionate desire of witnessing the vision come true while making leadership vulnerable to ample risks. Management displays impersonal views and attributes concerning the goals and vision of the organization. Therefore, managers are described as being more of critics than of dreamers. Management steps have to be precisely and cautiously calculated and evaluated for the sake of doing things right. The experts compare the cautiousness in management to that of melancholic temperament, while leadership free and personal desires are likened to sanguine temperament characters. However, the fact that remains strong is that complementing leadership with management result to a solid strategy for driving the organization forward.
The fact that leadership introduces new ideas into the organization, supports the critical role of leadership in introducing consummate changes in the organization. Without such changes, organizations stand the chances of stagnation with poor progress and achievement. Once the change program or idea is introduced and sold to the stakeholders, the management team sets in with the aim of developing strategies and plans on adoption and implementation. Such managerial step will entail a concrete evaluation of the impact of change effect, and how the involved stakeholders will play their ascribed roles. The leadership is the heart of an organization, while management is the brain. Leadership is involved in setting directions, while management is about delineating details about an approach introduced in the organization.
In addition, while leadership is focused on influencing followers, management focuses on control, structure and systems of the organization. In this vein, leadership is arguably governed by the ability of an individual to inspire and motivate the followers. On the other hand, management is a legitimate position; managers are employed to get things done. Managers will have a number of subordinates and juniors who can be delegated the duty of driving the objectives with a focus on the vision of the organization. Most of the managers tend to have a smooth background, hence their nature of being risk-averse, as compared to risk taking characteristic in leadership.
In conclusion, it is arguably difficult for either leadership or management to take control of the two domains in a successful organization. The common assumption that managers should possess leadership characters should be diluted and leaders identified to ease the load on managers’ shoulders. However, lack of clear distinction of the two in practical setup may result to power conflicts. Therefore, organizations should initiate programs to educate their authorities’ roles falling into each of these domains. A manager who has leadership qualities is superbly suited to head an organization and drive it to high levels. The assumption that leadership is the same as management should be dropped, not only in books, but also in practice since the two terms have distinct characteristics and roles ascribed.

Amanda Parkinson, the writer at and a passionate series movie watcher. She used to lifestyle blogging and solo traveling.


  1. savinas's Avatar
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  2. Jactiben's Avatar
    The leader is the one who goes forward himself and directs the team, and the manager is the one who looks after the organization
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  4. annajohnsn's Avatar
    Thanks for providing this study. It is really informative. The main differentiation between leadership and management is, Leadership is a way of leading people through encouraging them british museum highlights tour . Management is a method of managing the activities of the organization. Leadership requires the trust of followers on his/her leader.