In business, there’s a ton of talk about both management vs. leadership . Often, people use these two words interchangeably, but they are not the same. If you really want your company to succeed, you need to understand how a manager vs. leader differ.
Definitions of Leadership and Management
Leadership is providing the ideas and direction for change and progress. It is tightly connected to innovation, which is at the heart of staying competitive in the business market. By contrast, management involves controlling resources (including people). It is what moves a concept from the drawing board and into a reality. The way that those concepts manifest is determined by specific value and moral sets, which are usually collectively defined by a group of people.
Understanding the difference in how leadership and management are defined, true leaders usually are highly observant. They are able to see areas that are in need of improvement and tend to look outside the box or break rules. Good leaders also generally are able to develop a clear vision of what they want, although they are not necessarily sure of how to get there. They can delegate and communicate well and often are fairly honest, confident, determined and positive individuals. They are not afraid to trust in their own intuition, and in fact, they must, because their ideas usually bring them into unchartered territories where there are no precedents. Future-oriented, their objectives usually are long term.
Managers are usually very good problem solvers. They can see more than one way of doing things and routinely come up with multiple plans for proceeding toward a desired leadership vision, deciding which ultimately is best as new facts and circumstances arise. Unfortunately, their ability to ask what is or is not working and find the answer in a given situation is sometimes interpreted negatively as merely finding fault. Managers also are good at matching given tasks with the skills and experience of other workers. Although you might not describe them as risk takers (in fact, one of their main goals is risk minimization), they are very good at working within a given set of constraints and are not afraid to speak up when rules are violated. This helps provide stability and accountability. They are willing to set examples for those they oversee, and they believe in sharing and openness. Present-oriented, their objectives usually are short term.
Leadership and management are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Visionary leaders often serve in management areas. For example, an entrepreneur who wants to grow his new business (vision) might also actively participate in the marketing process, dictating how much money to put toward a given campaign (resource management). Similarly, managers routinely take leadership roles. An example here might be a manager at a restaurant who wants a broader menu that accommodates an ethnically diverse customer base (vision), and who also subsequently encourages his top chef to take more culinary classes (resource management). This said, not everyone will exhibit both leadership and management abilities, so you cannot assume that a good leader will also be a good manager and vice versa.
When looking at leaders and managers, perhaps the key difference is that leaders provide new ideas and direction, whereas managers are concerned with how to get to the new place the leader has identified. The line between managers and leaders is getting increasingly blurred as new demands are placed on businesses, and it is very possible for someone to be both a leader and manager at the same time. Nevertheless, leadership and management involve different skill sets, and not everyone possesses them both.
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