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Leadership vs. Management

leadership vs management

Are you a leader or a manager? It’s a common question with a complex answer. Leaders and managers both play important roles in organizations, but they have different approaches and skills.

Leadership is about inspiring and motivating people to achieve common goals. Leaders are often visionaries who can see the big picture and rally others to achieve it. They’re often good at communicating and building relationships.

Managers, on the other hand, are more focused on the day-to-day operations of an organization. They’re often good at problem-solving and making decisions. They may not be as inspiring as leaders, but they’re often good at getting things done.

Both leadership and management are important. But which one is more important? It depends on the situation. In some cases, leaders are more important. In others, managers are more important. And in many cases, both leadership and management are necessary. Let’s understand in detail about both leadership and management.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is the phase of intentional planning, visioning, and strategy-driven development of positive and non-incremental change. Adaptive decision-making and employee empowerment are two more critical qualities of a leader. People most frequently associate leadership with one’s place in an organization. However, leadership has nothing to do with management, titles, or personal objectives. Additionally, it is not just limited to personality attributes like charisma or better vision.

It is closer to a social influence mechanism that maximizes everyone’s efforts in the direction of a common objective. It derives its origins in social influence and needs human resources to produce the desired results. A leader is someone who consistently takes the lead and makes a significant effort to realize the company’s vision. This is one of the reasons why people prefer being around leaders; get inspired by them and follow them.

What is Management?

Everything in management revolves around regularly carrying out pre-planned duties with the assistance of subordinates. Planning, organizing, leading, and managing are the four crucial management tasks that fall under a manager’s full purview. Only when managers effectively carry out the duties of leadership, such as communicating both the good and the bad, offering motivation and direction, and motivating staff to increase productivity, can they advance to the position of leader.

However, not all managers can accomplish that. Because of the professional title or classification, managerial tasks are frequently defined in a job description, with subordinates following. Meeting organizational goals is a manager’s first priority; they frequently pay little attention to other factors. With the title comes the power and privilege to hire, promote, or reward staff members based on their behavior and performance.

Leadership vs. Management: Differences

Management’s responsibility is controlling an organization, a group, or a collection of entities to accomplish a specific goal. Making sure daily operations are carried out as intended is the goal of management. Leadership is the capacity of a person to persuade, inspire, and enable others to contribute to the success of an organization. A leader uses communication to inspire, encourage, and determine the direction of their team.

Both management and leadership roles are attainable simultaneously. However, remember that just because someone is a great leader, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will also be a great manager or vice versa. What characteristics, therefore, separate these two roles? 

The following details will help one understand the key differences between a Leader and a Manager:


Visionaries are regarded as leaders. They outline the techniques to advance organizational development. They always consider the current state of their organization, their desired future state, and the team’s role in getting them there.

On the other hand, managers work to realize organizational objectives by putting into practice procedures like staffing, organizational structuring, and budgeting. The planning, organizing, and implementation tactics used to accomplish the goals set by leaders are directly related to the vision of the manager. But to give a real context, both of these functions are equally crucial and call for cooperative efforts.

Organizing and Aligning

Managers use tactical strategies and coordinated efforts to accomplish their goals. Long-term objectives are divided into manageable chunks, and resources are arranged to achieve the desired result.

However, rather than concentrating on how to delegate tasks to others, leaders are more focused on how to align and influence people. They accomplish this by helping people visualize their role in a larger context and the potential for future growth that their actions may provide.


A manager concentrates on the questions of how and when, but a leader asks what and why. One could debate and question the right to overturn judgments that might not be in the best interests of the team in order to uphold their leadership responsibilities. When a company encounters a roadblock, a leader will take the initiative and ask, “What did we learn from this?” & Why did this occur?

Managers are not, however, compelled to evaluate and examine failures. Their job description strongly emphasizes asking How and when, which helps them ensure that plans are executed properly. They would rather choose to adhere to the given status quo and don’t wish to make any changes to the same.

Position and Quality

While the term “leader” doesn’t have a clear unclear connotation, “manager” is a role that often refers to a specific job inside the structure of a company. The actions taken by one as an individual are what makeup leadership.  You are a leader if your actions motivate people to perform to their highest potential. Your title and position do not make a difference, and being a manager isn’t restricted to certain rules or responsibilities.

What do managers do?

A manager is a member of an organization assigned the four crucial management tasks: organizing, leading, managing, and planning. However, not all managers are leaders. 

The majority of managers also have an inclination to be leaders, but the transition works if they are also capable of carrying out management’s leadership duties, which include inspiring and guiding people, communicating with them, and motivating them to increase their productivity.

However, not all managers possess leadership qualities. Employees follow orders from their superiors because they have to, not necessarily because they are influenced or inspired by the leader, and this happens when managers have inadequate leadership skills.

Employees generally follow in accordance with the official managerial responsibilities that are part of a job description. A manager’s top priority is meeting corporate goals and objectives; they often pay little attention to other factors. Managers are accountable for both their own behavior and that of the employees they supervise. With the title comes the power and privilege to evaluate an employee’s performance and behavior to decide whether to reward, reprimand, or promote them.

What do leaders do?

Leadership differs from management in a key factor that leaders are not compelled to hold a managerial position. In other simple terms, a leader doesn’t need to be one who holds a higher position in the organization, and anyone can aspire to be a leader.

As opposed to managers, leaders are followed and looked up to because of some of their qualities, such as behavior and beliefs. Leaders take a high interest in enhancing their skills, investing in projects, and demonstrating their level of passion for work. Leaders take a high interest in the success of their followers or people who look up to them and help them achieve their goals. The goals aren’t required to be professional and organizational.

A leader’s powers aren’t always tangible and can’t be measured in metrics to show the impact they create. Hence, a leader is bestowed with temporary or relevant powers that’ll enable them to help and inspire their followers. 

Another major difference between being a manager and a leader is being an employee. One is required to follow their managers. Leadership is a result of trust people’s trust and inspiration. Leaders are typically confrontational, and leadership is visionary, flexible, inventive, and adaptable.

What Are the Traits a Manager Possesses?

Some of the important traits managers possess are as follows:

The capacity to carry out a Vision

For their team to follow, managers create a strategic vision and deconstruct it into a roadmap.

The capacity to Direct

Managers are in charge of daily operations while analyzing the necessary resources and foreseeing the need to make adjustments as they go.

Process Management 

Managers can establish work rules, processes, standards, and operational procedures.


managers are renowned for taking care of and attending to the needs of the people they are in charge of, including listening to them, including them in some important decisions, and considering reasonable requests for change to boost productivity.

What Are the Traits a Leader Possesses?

Some of the important traits leaders possess are as follows:


A leader typically involves the team in determining the future course and direction since they are aware of where they are and where they want to go.

Integrity and sincerity

People follow leaders down the road they have established because they believe them.


The best leaders inspire their teams and assist them in placing their individual roles within a larger perspective.

Communication Skills

Leaders always keep their team up to date on what is happening, both now and in the future, as well as any challenges they may face.

Willingness to Challenge

Leaders are those who make the status quo uncomfortable. They typically think outside the box and have their own way of doing things and solving problems.

Three Tests

In the following details, there are certain tests that managers can take to understand if they have transitioned from managing to leading people.

Counting Value vs. Creating Value:

As Vineet Nayar claims that only managers are capable of measuring value. Some people reduce value by eradicating or otherwise neutralizing ideas and contributors.

As much as their followers are value creators, leaders concentrate on creating a particular value that is above and beyond what the team already produces. “Leading by example and leading by enabling people are the hallmarks of action-based leadership,” continues Nayar.

Circles Of Influence vs. Circles Of Power:

Managers establish a circle of power, whereas leaders establish a circle of influence, as was previously mentioned. Managers have subordinates while leaders get followers. Nayar offers suggestions on how to figure out which circle you are in. “Counting the number of people outside your reporting structure who come to you for guidance is the quickest method to determine which of the two you’re doing,” he advises. The more you accomplish, the more probable it is that people will see you as a leader.

Leading People vs. Managing People

Controlling a team to accomplish a goal is one of a manager’s responsibilities. On the other hand, leadership is the ability of a person to motivate, sway, and enable other employees to support a company’s success. Leaders are distinguished from managers by their inspiration and influence, not their control and authority.


This article talks all about the difference between leadership and management. The initial part focuses on educating about the two topics, while the latter focuses on clarifying the key differentiators between the same. 

Whether you are a working professional or an MBA aspirant, understanding the basics, traits, and differences will help advance your career as a manager and develop the right traits to inspire and lead others.


What is the difference between effective leadership and management?

The primary distinction between management and leadership is that the former entails a group of people cooperating to accomplish a shared goal, whilst the latter does not. The workers must be motivated, swayed, and empowered by the leadership. Influence and inspiration, as opposed to power and control, separate leaders from managers.

What are the 5 major differences between leadership and management?

Leaders instigate change; managers defend the status quo.
Unusual leaders have an impact on managers.
While leaders take the risk, managers evaluate it.
Despite the fact that managing is easier than leading, it requires time.
Leaders create relationships while managers create systems.

What is the difference between leadership and management (Give an example)?

A crucial distinction between the two that is frequently overlooked is the fact that management just needs to be concerned with accountability for things, whereas leadership must always involve (leading) a group of people (for example, IT, money, advertising, equipment, promises, etc.).

Source: GreatLearning Blog

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