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5 differences between management and leadership

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The difference between management and leadership is confusing.

They’re distinct, but related disciplines, which overlap with one another.

There are no hard fast rules, but here’s five differences to help you distinguish the two.

1. Leadership leans to vision and purpose. Management is more goals and objectives.

Leadership defines an inspiring future that drives people forward.

Management maps the path and guardrails to guide people there.

2. Leadership leans to long-term, big picture. Management is more here and now.

Leadership looks over the horizon and thinks about the big opportunities.

Management makes sure what we do today is connected with the outcomes we want tomorrow.

3. Leadership leans to people. Management is more systems and processes.

Leadership understands and connects with people.

Management develops systems of work that reliably move us forward.

4. Leadership leans to motivation. Management is more about control.

Leadership engages and aligns people.

Management provides the guardrails within which they operate.

5. Leadership leans to transformational change. Management is more about incremental improvement.

Leadership seeks big change over the long term.

Management works out how best to deliver incremental change in that direction.

A final word

The fine distinction between leadership and management is less important than ensuring you’re attending to both aspects in your role.

And don’t get caught up on whether you’re a leader or a manager – too many people play the righteous game of writing others off as ‘just managers’.

Both roles are critical to high performing teams. Neither is more noble than the other.

Teams and organisations that lack either won’t reach their potential.

And individuals that are strong in both disciplines will outperform those who just focus on one.

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