Leadership versus management: key differences you need to know


We often hear that the terms “leaders” and “leaders” are used interchangeably. However, there are key differences in how each works.

In this article, we will delve into what these differences are and how you can take advantage of each of them in your organization.

Most interestingly, each leader probably took on a leadership role. However, not every manager was a leader.

This is because someone usually takes on the role of leader when needed in your organization. Whoever can meet these needs will succeed as a manager.

However, a leader requires a different set of skills and can appear naturally at any point in an organization’s growth – in fact, a leader doesn’t need a title to define it.

We break down the key differences below.

Vision Vs. Execution

As a leader, you are responsible for vision setting. This means the ability to look beyond where you are at the moment and imagine a future that exceeds expectations.

Meanwhile, the leader will focus on realizing this vision and identifying the key processes that will achieve this.

Leaders can see the big picture and develop a strategy on how to get there, while leaders tend to break these goals down into smaller, feasible tasks.

People against processes

Another key difference between leaders and managers is that leaders focus on people, while leaders focus on processes.

Leaders are there to inspire, motivate, and nurture the people they work with, often treating them as mentors to those they lead. To this end, they invest a lot of time in understanding the passions and values ​​of their employees.

After all, this will be what will ensure the success of the company.

Managers look at processes that will deliver the desired results based on business goals. Although they pay attention to people, this is often not their top priority.

Leadership versus leadership skills

Leadership skills they are usually more based on soft skills, while leadership skills are more hard or technical skills.

Shared leadership skills include decision making, communication, relationship building, and strategic thinking.

Top leadership skills include:

  • Planning and budget
  • Assignment of tasks
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving

Leadership vs. Management features

Both leadership and management involve setting a direction for others to follow.

However, managers tend to have a more long-term vision, while managers focus on the here and now.

Leaders also need to be able to build relationships and trust with their team, while leaders may not need such strong relationships because they are focused on performing tasks.

Leaders’ characteristics include:

  • Identifying and nurturing talent.
  • Push the envelope as much as possible.
  • Assumption of calculated risks.
  • Encouraging employees.

On the other hand, some common management features include:

  • Maintaining the status quo.
  • Detection and elimination of inefficiencies.
  • Risk reduction.
  • Get the job done.

Leadership vs. Examples of management

Let’s say you’re a project manager at an advertising agency.

Your day-to-day tasks may include overseeing client projects, delegating tasks to your team, and ensuring you meet deadlines.

Meanwhile, the agency owner can focus on gaining new customers, working on a long-term strategy, and building relationships with other companies.

Both roles overlap in their responsibilities and skills. However, their priorities are very different.

If you think too long term, you will never figure out what it takes today to get there. If you think too short, you will miss the bigger picture that tells you what you are working for.

There is often an implication that leadership is better than leadership. The truth is that every organization needs a good balance of both to succeed.

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