Leadership vs. Management: What’s the Difference?


Leadership and management are inherently linked and often grouped together or confused as one, but understanding their differences is essential to grow and develop your company.

The main difference is that leaders motivate people to follow them, while managers have people work for them. Leadership is about getting people to believe in your company, and management is about administering tasks day-to-day and ensuring everything is working accordingly. These two things go hand and in hand, and when properly thought through, leadership and management complement one another and make for a successful company.

With management that plans and coordinates while also taking into account what motivates and inspires the company, everyone will be performing at their highest potential. Let’s dive into a few more differences to understand the relationship between leadership and management better.

Leaders Coach

Leaders have a few defining traits. They usually have a strong vision, a sense of integrity, stellar communication skills, and the ability to challenge the status quo.

Leaders create value. In an article by Harvard Business Review, it’s discussed that leaders create value while managers count value. Leaders focus on creating value, and their followers are also value-creators. Leaders innovate and influence. They are not just people with more power and control, and they use that power to inspire others.

Managers Direct

Managers control a group or a process as a means to an end. A manager has the responsibility of planning, organizing, and controlling. The duties of a manager are usually laid out clearly in a job description. Their focus is to meet the company’s goals. They are held responsible for their actions as well as the actions of people under them. A manager also has the ability to promote, hire, fire, reward, or discipline employees based on their performance and behavior.

So are all managers leaders?

The short answer is no!

It’s very possible for a manager to have poor leadership skills. They may be too focused on micro-measuring and micro-managing. Or they may lack the ability to see the big picture and are only focused on the bottom line. They may lack empathy and not understand how to motivate a team.

Managers are also classified as leaders if they successfully carry out the leadership responsibilities of management. Managers who are leaders are expert communicators and motivators. They inspire and guide and lead everyone to remember the bigger vision. They are encouraging and support their employees to grow and reach new levels in their position and career.

Quick ways to decipher…

A manager maintains while a leader develops.

A manager administers tasks, while a leader innovates.

A manager focuses on processes and systems, while a leader focuses on people.

A manager may think short term, while a leader thinks long-term and holds the vision.

A manager looks for control, while a leader inspires trust.


Overall, understanding the difference between leadership and management can influence you to evaluate managers in a way that will fuel your company in a good direction. Are these people managing or leading? How can you help them excel at both? Managers that possess leadership qualities and have their priorities set straight are extremely valuable to the company.

Interested in learning more about improving management to strategically grow and better your company? Browse StellaPop Management Consulting. We can help you streamline processes and find innovative ways to solve your problems.

See Also:

Prepare the Horse: Guiding Your Team Through Change

Are You CEO Material? 7 Leadership Strategies to Look Like The Right Stuff

How to Become a Well-Rounded Business Leader

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