Leadership and management might seem like they go hand in hand. But this is a common misconception. Whereas good managers plan, measure, monitor, and perform different tasks, Effective leaders have social influence.
A good way to remember the difference is that leaders primarily deal with people while managers primarily deal with things. Leaders look at the bigger picture while managers focus on day-to-day operations.
While they’re definitely not interchangeable, they do share some similarities. In this article, we break down all the commonalities and differences between leaders and managers, assessing the pros and cons of each role.
What Is Leadership?
You might think a leader is always in a position of power. However, leaders aren’t all presidents of companies. And becoming a good leader doesn’t automatically come with a prestigious title.
Leadership can be defined a hundred different ways. Literally. What most definitions have in common is the notion that a leader inspires others to achieve a common goal. Although emotional intelligence is critical for any leadership role, leadership styles can vary.
So you don’t need to be a CEO to be a leader. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and in all sorts of spheres of human activity, including places of worship, clubs, organizations, and families.
What Is Management?
In contrast to leadership, management refers to a more administrative role. There are many different types of managers in the workforce, including project managers and general managers, HR managers, and business managers. Managers can occupy different levels, ranging from upper management to middle management to lower management.
At the end of the day, what managers excel most at, according to Harvard Business School, is problem solving. Managers take on a number of different tasks, all of which are crucial for a company to run smoothly. While leaders look at the overall picture, managers work on the puzzle pieces.
Managers vs Leaders: The Most Important Differences and Similarities
Continue exploring the similarities and differences between leadership and management below.
First Difference: Creating vs Counting Value
A significant difference between leadership and management is that leaders create value while managers count value. Leaders create value by delegating tasks and leading by example. Managers only keep track of the value available for a given endeavor. A bad manager might even subtract value through heavy-handed micromanaging.
Second Difference: Influence vs Power
Leaders have circles of influence whereas managers have circles of power. People report to a manager because they are in a position of power and it is required for their job. However, team members go to leaders for advice because they are influential and appreciated.
Third Difference: People vs Goals
Lastly, managing a team means pursuing a particular goal. But leading refers to influencing people so that they contribute to the group. A manager can get things done, but a leader leads people to want to get things done.
First Similarity: Subordinates
Leading and managing both involve being in charge of a team of subordinates. The style of leadership or management may change, but its impact is always on people.
Second Similarity: Tasks and Projects
Both leading and managing contribute to an organization in concrete ways. Both meet deadlines. And both get results. Leaders and managers just use different means to achieve the same ends.
Third Similarity: They Can Be the Same Person
Leading and managing are often linked. A manager can become an effective leader. But it’s not built into the title. Their leadership role depends on whether they can influence others.
Leadership vs Management: Pros and Cons
Leading or managing will have its benefits and costs. While a leader inspires others and develops relationships, the role has downsides. And a manager may have hurdles to jump before shaping an organization. Explore the pros and cons of being a manager or leader below.
- Inspiring others. A significant benefit is inspiring and motivating people every day.
- Developing relationships. As a leader, people will seek you out for advice. Leaders keep many different relationships.
- Communicating direction. Ultimately, a leader will decide which direction a company takes. People will follow because they trust and believe in you.
- Commitment. Leadership takes an immense amount of time and effort. There is no day off from being a leader.
- Failure is public. If you make a mistake, it will be in the public eye. You will also need to find a way to continue pursuing your goals after a public mistake, which could be even more challenging.
- Taking the blame. As a leader, you will likely take the blame for any mistakes made under you. But if you succeed, you will need to share the limelight with others.
- Developing an organization. You contribute to an organization immensely just by managing people and tasks every day.
- Reinforcing performance. A manager is not always bringing others down. Sometimes you get to celebrate others’ successes and acknowledge their hard work.
- Directing operations. A manager is in the office every day, directing operations and ensuring that protocols are followed. You can be there for your team and manage them effectively when they most need it.
- Results are not immediate. If you are someone who thrives on instant gratification, becoming a manager might not be a good fit. Results of management are often quarterly or even yearly.
- Responsibilities are huge. Hard decisions are often necessary. You should be ready to be the bad guy occasionally.
- Competition is fierce. People will be vying for your title. This becomes more intense as you work your way up the corporate ladder. It can also result in your work being scrutinized more closely.
Should You Use Leadership or Management?
Leadership and management are both crucial to an organization’s success. Through professional development, both can be explored and perfected. That raises the question, which one should you choose to pursue?
Advantages of Choosing Leadership
There are many advantages of choosing to become a leader instead of a manager. According to LinkedIn, leaders are the cornerstone of any well-functioning organization.
But do you fit the bill? Are you a natural-born leader? Perhaps you always fall into a leadership position during a group project or you are the captain of your sports team. Then you might have what it takes to lead a team in the workplace as well.
When you are a leader you must be able to implement plans, work well under pressure, and have great emotional intelligence. If you aren’t quite there, then you can hone specific leadership skills over time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, leaders can be made as well as born.
Advantages of Choosing Management
Choosing a management career has many advantages. Remember, managers can always become leaders. Additionally, as a manager you can practice your leadership skills while helping others, delegating tasks, and demonstrating integrity.
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