Management Versus Leadership
Understanding The Difference

The concept of management versus leadership has been confused by many. With all the leadership lingo circulating in the corporate world, many managers think they are leading their team. 

That said, this article is not for bashing managers. Managers are still as essential in any organization. You need them to maintain the status quo, execute the big ideas, make sure that work is done at the end of the day. 

Both leaders and managers are essential to the success of an organization, and this article will seek to bring out the distinctions of both. 

In the words of Bennis and Nanus,
‘People don’t want to be managed. They want to be led. Whoever heard of a ‘world manager’? World leader, yes. Educational leader. Political leader. Religious leader. Scout leader. Community leader. Business leader. They lead. They don’t manage. The carrot always wins over the stick. Ask your horse. You can lead your horse to water but you can’t manage him to drink. If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself. Do that well and you’ll be ready to stop managing. And start leading.'

We need to make that distinction between managers and leaders. No one likes to be told they are being 'managed'. I'm sure you wouldn't.

Things, projects and events can be managed, but people want to be led. 

Key Differences of 
Management versus Leadership

#1: Leaders innovate while managers administrate the innovation.

Leaders innovate. They cast the vision; they visualize and articulate the grand plan to all so that everyone will walk in the same direction with the same understanding. 

Managers, on the other hand, facilitate the executing of such a vision. A vision needs to be broken down into specific, tangible tasks to be done, and managers has to ensure that these tasks are completed well. 

#2: Leaders need to focus on people while a managers need to focus on process. 

Leaders needs to be more people-oriented in their approach. They need to think about the impact of their decisions and actions on the people they are leading.

Managers need to be more process-oriented in their approach. They are subjected to policies and procedures set within the organization and expect direct reports to work within those boundaries as well. 

#3: Leaders challenge the status quo while managers accept them.

George Bernard Shaw once said,
’People see things and ask why. I dream of many things that has never been seen before and ask why not?’

Leaders need to challenge the status quo. They need to constantly think about how they can do things better and how to lead the organization up another level. This constant growth is absolutely necessary for the survival of the organization. 

Managers accept the status quo. They need to work within the boundaries of these status quos so that the organization can operate efficiently. 

Return from Management versus Leadership to Definition of Leadership 

Return from Management versus Leadership to Home Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Purchase my NEW book today!

Discover the 6 attributes that make leaders great!

Purchase this book at only US$9.95 today!

Sign Up Today

Every month, I write to you to share with you about my thoughts, some great articles and resources on leadership as well and I know it will greatly benefit you.

Sign up today and download a free leadership ebook worth USD 9.95!

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Growing the Leader in You.


Let me begin by saying my deepest thanks to you for visiting this website. Your words of encouragement never fail to inspire and push me further to build this website to be a blessing to more people.

I have only skimmed over the website and the e-book so far, but what I've read was surprisingly deep for a non-commercial and easily accessible product. 
John, Germany

Hello Yihan, I am very grateful for your book about leadership. It is very exciting and amazing. It's encouraging and it gives us all hope. 
-Radovanka, Serbia

I am compelled to write you personally and say how excited I was to discover your website. Even though I have found many websites on leadership, yours stand out because of your Leadership Movies section. 
Emmanuel Lopez

I have stumbled across your website a few times in my research and I wanted to commend you for the work you are doing. Your site is a great resource for leaders! 
Johnny, United States

If you have feedback you would like to give, please visit Contact Me and I would love to hear from you. Really.