Management and Leadership

How are they different and which is right for you?
Leadership is a tough job, and not every manager is cut out for it. Understanding the differences between management and leadership will help you find out if you can become a leader who transforms your company.
management vs leadership examples

Management and Leadership: How Are They Different?

Management and leadership are both necessary for the success of an organization. But, what is the difference between management and leadership? If you had to think for a few minutes about that, you're not alone. In fact, many people confuse management with leadership. The distinction between the two lies in where and how they focus their energy.

In this article, we'll take a deeper look at six key differences between management and leadership. We'll also look at how managers and leaders fit within an organization.
influential leadership

What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?

Managers direct people toward meeting goals that are set by someone else. In contrast, leadership influences the organization. Leaders inspire people to work toward common goals and move things forward in their own way—they can be managers themselves or not.

While management involves things like setting objectives and managing resources, leadership deals with such motivation and staff morale. Additionally, a leader can also be a manager (and vice versa). Managers focus on tasks while leaders focus on people.

Both roles are essential to any organization's success, as they impact—and are impacted by—each other. Therefore, while there is certainly some overlap between these jobs in terms of their respective duties—both managers and leaders influence others through direction—they are not identical roles by any means.
focus of management

Difference #1: The Focus of Their Work

Managers focus on tasks. They organize and schedule projects, make sure the team has everything they need to complete the work, and help resolve any issues that come up during the project. Managers are also responsible for monitoring their team's progress on specific tasks throughout a project and ensuring that everyone is working efficiently.

Leaders focus on people. They help their team members understand the overall project goals and how their work fits into those goals. They also help each member of the team to develop new skills and improve their performance. Leaders ensure that everyone on their team is working effectively and efficiently by regularly checking in with them to see if they have any questions or concerns.

Managers focus on the process. Managers are responsible for making sure that the team follows the right procedures and adheres to established standards. They make sure that everyone on the team is working efficiently, not just individually but also as a group.

Managers also monitor their team's progress on specific tasks throughout a project so they can ensure that deadlines are met and the work meets standards.

Leaders focus on people. They help the team focus on what needs to be accomplished and how their work fits into that overall outcome. They also motivate, inspire, and energize their teams to do their best work.
effective management skills

Difference #2: The Skills They Use

Most people don't realize how distinct the skills of management and leadership are. It turns out that these two skill sets are actually quite different—and can be learned by different people with different backgrounds.

Management skills tend towards being more concrete and technical: they're best suited for problem solving in an existing situation or industry. Leadership involves more abstract thinking around strategy and long-term planning for an organization's future (or even entire industries).

When you think of a manager, you probably picture someone who's good with details, follows procedures and knows how to get things done. If you think about a leader, on the other hand, it might be someone who inspires others through their charisma or vision for the future.

Leadership is learned over time through experience as well as from mentors who help provide guidance throughout your career; management tends to be taught in a classroom environment rather than acquired on-the-job like leadership usually is. However—both management and leadership have elements of each other: great leaders are able to connect with people past their titles or roles within an organization; while managers will often need strategic thinking abilities in order not just lead but also motivate those they work with!
leadership roles

Difference #3: The Role They Play

A manager's role is to ensure that the day-to-day operation of the company is running smoothly. This includes managing people, processes and resources to meet goals and objectives. Managers are responsible for making sure that employees have what they need to do their jobs and that everything gets done on time. This may include managing budgets and making sure financial information is accurate.

A leader's focus is on driving growth, innovation and results. They make decisions based on what they believe will lead their teams toward success in the long run (often with little regard for cost). Leaders are also responsible for communicating vision, strategy and direction — as well as inspiring others to follow them (or not).

team leader as manager

Difference #4: How They Think

Leadership is about the big picture and management is about the details. A leader will be focused on creating a vision, while a manager keeps his or her eye on the ball to make sure it gets done. Leaders are forward-thinking and see the big picture, while managers are more detail-oriented. A leader will also be able to inspire others to follow their vision, while a manager tends to rely on delegation and authority.

Leaders are also more creative and innovative, while managers tend to be more practical. Leaders have a clear vision of where they want their organization to go, while managers make sure that it actually gets there.

Managers tend to think more tactically. Managers are also more likely to think about what needs to be done in the short term in order for a more immediate goal to be achieved. Managers are also more focused on making sure that things get done effectively and efficiently.

management is organizational

Difference #5: The Traits They Have

Leadership is about influence. A leader is someone who can get people to do what they want. A manager has people reporting to him or her and is accountable for their performance. Leadership requires a person to take charge and make decisions, while management requires more follow-through on projects.

Management is also about control. A manager controls the situation and makes sure that it is under control. Therefore, a manager must be able to get people to do the work. A leader is more about getting things done through others. This does not mean that managers are not leaders, but rather that the focus of their leadership is different than that of a leader.

In short, a leader inspires people to follow him or her because he or she has a vision of where they are going.
leaders motivate managers

Difference #6: Motivation

Leaders are motivated by vision and passion, while managers tend to be more driven by efficiency and effectiveness. A manager is responsible for the performance of others and can be held accountable if those people fail to perform. A leader is not held accountable for the actions of his or her followers, but must inspire them to do the right thing. In contrast, a manager is held directly accountable for the performance of their direct and indirect reports.

Therefore, a manager will measure their success by how well they are able to meet their goals and objectives. A leader will measure his or her success by how well others followed them on their journey.
management opportunity

What Does This Mean for You?

If you're looking for an opportunity to grow your career and have a positive impact on others, then leadership may be a better fit for you than management.

While leaders need to focus on inspiring people to achieve goals and motivate others, managers are responsible for ensuring that the company's day-to-day operations run smoothly.

This includes:
  • setting clear objectives based on established goals
  • providing direction when needed
  • delegating tasks appropriately
  • monitoring progress toward goals/objectives
  • providing feedback as necessary
  • motivating employees through rewards or punishments when needed
  • correcting problems as they arise
No matter which one you choose, it's important to understand what both roles entail so that you can make an informed decision about where your future lies.
management and leadership skills

Management and Leadership Skills

The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably. This is because both skills are necessary for an organization to effectively function. However, they have distinct functions within an organization and require different sets of skills to be successful.

The main difference between management and leadership is that one focuses on people while the other focuses on organizational processes. Leaders influence others through inspiration and motivation while managers plan tasks and organize resources so that they can be completed efficiently.

Leaders inspire their followers by motivating them to achieve a goal together as a team; managers delegate tasks so that everyone knows what they need to do individually in order for them all to succeed collectively.
management process

Management Is An Organizational Function

Management is a process, an activity, a responsibility and a role. It's also something that you do as part of your job in order to help the organization achieve its goals. Management is not something that exists independently of other factors like leadership or management systems. 

In fact, without all these connected parts working together successfully for an organization to meet its objectives—like customer satisfaction or performance metrics—management will be ineffective on its own because it won't provide any value to anyone involved with it.
leader as influencer

Leadership Influences The Organization

Leadership is about influencing the organization.

Leadership is about:
  • Inspiring people to work together toward a common goal
  • Motivating people to achieve a specific objective or project, such as implementing a new process or procedure within a department
  • Influencing people to change their behavior, whether that means altering existing patterns or developing new ones from scratch
  • Changing the way people think and act by showing them how their decisions affect not only themselves but also those around them—and how those decisions can be made differently for better outcomes
managing as a leader

A Leader Can Be A Manager

While management and leadership are two different skills, they can often go hand in hand. A leader is defined as someone who inspires and motivates other people to accomplish a goal by creating an atmosphere of trust.

Managing, on the other hand, involves planning and budgeting so that you get the most out of your resources at all times (or at least try). A manager is someone who leads people into action through their intelligence; they know how to use their knowledge to solve problems effectively.

In contrast, leaders motivate others through inspiration: they inspire their followers into action by making them believe that what they're doing matters or that it will be worth it in some way—even if there might not be any immediate benefit!
management styles

Management And Leadership Style Can Vary

Management and leadership style can vary depending on the situation, your team, the person you are leading and more. For example, if you have an employee who is not performing well, then it would be best to use a more authoritative leadership style rather than a transformational leadership style.

On the other hand, if you have a highly motivated team that needs some direction, then it would be better for you to use a more directive leadership style rather than participative leadership style.

It is also important to consider that every person has their own personality type which affects how they think and behave in certain situations. A good leader must understand this aspect and adjust his/her approach based on these differences among people who work under him/her.

3 Effective Management Styles

Visionary Management Style

This style is characterized by having a clear vision for the future. Managers who use this style are able to see trends and opportunities before they become obvious, which allows them to make strategic decisions that take advantage of those trends. This style is typically used by managers who are trying to change the culture of an organization or bring it into the future. It requires the leader to think in a way that allows them to see beyond what is directly in front of them and make decisions based on their vision for the future.

Steve Jobs is an excellent example of using a visionary management style. He was able to see what people wanted before they knew it themselves, and he made decisions with the input of the employees while being responsible for making the final decision. Jobs' management style was defined by persuasion, charisma, and a high emotional IQ. A manager who utilizes this style can articulate a vision for the future, and the path others must take to reach it.

Transformational Management Style

The transformational management style is characterized by having a vision for where the organization is going and creating a shared vision among all employees. This style of management is used by managers who want to ensure that everyone has an equal voice in the decision making process and are willing to listen to all points of view before making a final decision.

An excellent example of this management style is Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix. Hastings has built a company culture that on the surface may seem idealistic and even counter-productive. However, every value he has outlined for the company comes from and feeds back into, his vision for the potential of the organization.

Coaching Management Style

The coaching management style is characterized by having a manager who works with an employee to help them achieve their goals. The manager does this by providing tools and resources for the employee to use in order to improve their performance. This type of management style is often used in organizations that want to foster growth within their employees as well as develop talent within the organization.

Microsoft's Satya Nadella uses a coaching style in his to generate momentum in teams. He has a strong sense of purpose, clearly communicates his vision for the organization, is considerate and respectful when dealing with peers/subordinates, and inspires others to follow him willingly. He also equips his teams with the tools and freedom they need to perform at a high level.
ineffective management styles

3 Ineffective Management Styles

Autocratic Management Style

An autocratic management style is characterized by having a manager who makes all of the decisions for employees and does not allow them to have any input in their work. This type of management style can lead to employee burnout or frustration as they feel like they are not being heard.

Elon Musk is infamous for his micromanagement and publicly threatening to fire employees who do not follow company rules. While he may have a point, and it is clear that Musk has the best interest of Tesla in mind, this type of management style can be harmful. Elon Musk has been known for taking risks and going against the status quo in order to accomplish his goals.

Laissez-Faire Management Style

A laissez-faire management style is characterized by having a manager who does not provide direction or instruction to their employees, leaving them to figure out how things should be done on their own. This can lead to a lack of direction within an organization as well as an overall feeling of frustration among employees.

An example of this management style is a manager who says, “You’re responsible for your own work. I’m not going to tell you how to do it. Just get the job done!” This is a common style of management used by small businesses that do not have the resources or time for more hands-on management styles.

Transactional Management Style

A transactional management style is characterized by having a manager who focuses on the performance of their employees, with little or no concern for how they feel about their jobs. This can lead to employees feeling as though they are being treated as an object rather than a person.

An example of this management style is when supervisors use both rewards and punishments to get the best work out of their employees. This type of management style has been shown to lead to lower levels of job satisfaction and higher turnover rates than other styles.
management training course

How To Improve Your Management Skills

Management skills can be learned, and it’s important to note that these skills are not innate. While some managers may have an innate ability to lead their teams effectively, most people will need to learn how to manage others at some point in their career. It’s also important to remember that management styles should always be tailored around the needs of the individual employee. You can’t expect everyone to react well to the same management style, so it’s important to always be open-minded about the way you manage your team. 

Online learning has opened up an amazing number of training options, including some that are offered by Northstar Leadership Training. Our online courses are designed to give you a broad overview of the topics, with links to additional resources and learning opportunities. We also offer an in-depth training program that will give you all the tools and skills you need to be a successful manager. The program is offered both locally and online, so it’s easy for anyone to attend.


Management and leadership are not mutually exclusive, but they do have some distinct differences. A good manager can be a good leader, but an effective leader doesn't necessarily need to be a good manager. It's important to understand what these roles entail so that you know how they fit into your work life and how they impact each other.

As a leader, you need to be able to motivate your team and achieve your goals. You also need to make sure that staff are happy and feel valued within the company. As a manager, it’s important that you keep track of all the projects happening within your department so that nothing falls through the cracks. Leadership informs management, and management inspires leadership

The best way to ensure that your company is running smoothly is by clearly defining the roles and duties of management and leadership. This distinction will help you better understand the different responsibilities and how they work together to achieve the goals of the organization.

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