It is very common to hear the terms management and leadership used synonymously. Let’s crush that myth right now: leadership and management is not the same thing. Both are critical to your success as a leader, so an understanding of each term is essential.

MLK LoveLeadership is the ability to influence people to successfully achieve results and goals through vision, mission and purpose. Leadership deals with people and focuses on alignment of individuals and inspiration for every follower. Leaders influence followers by creating meaning, exhibiting enthusiasm and establishing an environment which brings out the best in people.

At its core leadership, compared to management, requires understanding broader social processes: communication, engagement, organizational culture and self-awareness. Influence is the core component of leadership and it is through influence a leader creates loyalty and buy-in from followers.

Management, on the other hand, is a set of processes which keep an organization running. It is the controlling, planning, organizing, monitoring, tracking and directing of resources within an organization. Management is about stuff: schedules, parts, timelines and other things which can be systemized. Management controls resources to maintain the status quo or ensure things happen according to already-established plans.

Authority is the core component of management which is often the cause of workplace issues. Managers think their authority creates unthinking obedience from employees and direct reports. Because of this expectation of obedience, a manager may perform their tasks perfectly but never develop loyalty from subordinates. Trust, loyalty and respect are all behaviours which must be earned, not demanded or commanded from employees.

Because ‘stuff’ is straight forward to manipulate, leaders and managers run into trouble when they try to apply the same concepts of control on people as they do with things. Unlike an inanimate object, people have free will and thoughts of their own and balk at being treated like children. People cannot be controlled and manipulated the same way ‘stuff’ can be.

Lincoln, Mandela, GandhiPeople are not the same as equipment and machinery, but this difference is often conveniently overlooked when planning takes place or systems are created. People are more complex than equipment. Widgets do not walk off the boat at the end of the day, with the expectation they will walk back on the following morning. The challenge created when leadership and management are considered the same thing is that people are commonly only seen as resources, or cogs in a large machine.

The following list describes some differences between a leader and manager:


  1. Has vision
  2. Creates purpose
  3. Influences others
  4. Focuses on people
  5. Inspires trust among followers
  6. Understands the big picture
  7. Superior listening skills
  8. Courageously challenges the state of affairs: asks ‘why’ and what can be improved
  9. Looks for opportunities to develop strengths
  10. Develop others


  1. Administrates
  2. Maintains the status quo
  3. Creates systems and procedures
  4. Focused on control and structure
  5. Follows the plan
  6. Asks a limited set of questions – just how or when
  7. Sees people as cogs in the machine
  8. Manages subordinates but has few, if any, devotees
  9. Expectation of obedience
  10. Risk averse

Reflecting on these descriptions should make it clear they are different activities. One concept deals with people and the other deals with things. Unfortunately the paradigm of good management being seen as leadership holds very strongly today.

After examining the differences between the two behaviours, we take the step of bringing the two concepts together. We do this because leadership and management are interconnected. Leadership and management are two sides to the same coin. If a leader does not manage, they will not know what is going on around them, while a manager who does not lead will have followers who do not know where they are going or what the final goal is.

Steve Jobs LeaderWith the interconnection in mind, leaders need to both lead and manage at the same time. As a manager of things, you will get results through organizing, controlling and systemizing. As a leader of people, create engagement and display enthusiasm to bring out the best in your followers. Create and share your vision to get buy-in from followers.

Supervisors who do not take the time to understand the different aspects of both leadership and management will have high crew turnover, low crew morale and no loyalty within the organization.

For those supervisors, it's a mistake to think that if they are managing a team they’re only managing it. They’re actually leading as well.

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