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How Similar or Different are Management and Leadership

August 05, 2019

Management and leadership are often considered the same in many organizations. Though the two share a number of similar traits, they differ in the sense that while all leaders are managers, not all managers are leaders. Managing and leading are two complementary qualities that are linked to each other. Extricating one from the other is impossible. Leaders inspire and motivate, whereas managers plan, organize, and coordinate. A leader sets his eyes on the bigger picture, while a manager puts all the pieces of the daily puzzle together. In military terms, a leader is a commander-in-chief while a manager is a field general.   

Role of a Leader

A leader focuses on interpersonal relationships both within and outside the organization. They assess the company's situation and future strategy based on reports from the heads of departments. They advocate for innovation and talent development through various culture-building exercises. A true leader is often considered a fearless innovator who challenges the status quo and is never hesitant to take risks while ensuring high rewards for stakeholders, employees, and customers.

Role of a Manager

A manager is responsible for communicating the philosophies and policies of an organization to its employees. They formulate process improvement strategies to streamline operational efficiency and help employees achieve their KPIs. A manager's interpersonal relationship with peers and other employees is determined by the organizational hierarchy. A decentralized hierarchy usually helps forge meaningful relationships between employees and their managers. Unlike leaders, managers handle daily operations and work at the implementation and delivery level.

Reconciling Managerial and Leadership Roles

It's often said that a manager asks when and how, while a leader asks why and what. However, if the leader of a company simply manages the business instead of unlocking the true potential of its people, the organization would fall behind its competition. Likewise, managers sometimes have to assume leadership roles to get a job done. Leadership and managerial roles are often switchable. Just like a good leader, a good manager can take challenges head-on. Similarly, great leaders are known to get involved in the nitty-gritty of daily operations in order to ramp up production and expedite delivery. To sum up, it's important for both leaders and managers to be the source of inspiration, empathy, and integrity.