Leadership Versus Management: Finding Differences

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Management refers to the process through which an organization organizes and distributes its available resources efficiently and effectively so as to meet the set objectives and goals. A management system is deemed effective if it efficiently leads, controls, plans and monitors all the activities and resources of that given organization. Managers are the people taxed with the role of marshalling the human resource in the organization for its growth and expansion. Their role is crucial and they must possess exemplary leadership skills so as to fulfill these tasks. Leadership on the other hand often refers to a process through which one person uses the help and support of others towards achieving a particular goal or task. In the article by Bennis (1999), “The Leadership Advantage”, the author aims at highlighting the factors and characteristics that compliments a good leader and consequently, effective management. He descriptively states that there are several core attributes that makes for a good leader. They include being a knowledgeable professional in the field of expertise, having a proven track record of achieving set goals and objectives and the ability to motivate and delegate effectively. Leaders also ought to be able to cultivate and identify talent and exhibit sound judgment even under pressure

Understanding the concepts behind leadership and management is a process that many are yet to grasp. As such, to an untrained eye, they may seem similar or interchangeable but there lies some very distinct differences between these two vital faculties and they require separate but equally important skills when it comes to mastering them. As Gill (1998) arguably asserts, being a good leader and at the same time a good manager is an art that cannot be mastered by many. However, in today’s dynamic business environment, it pays to know that both leadership and management are essential to the smooth running of any organization. This can be attributed to the fact that some concepts in management can be applied in leadership and vise versa in the process of running an organization. Some of the similar aspects between these two concepts include but are not limited to their joint input in motivating employees, decision making process and their focus on the success of the business. However, there are some differences worth noting between management and leadership.

As mentioned earlier within this paper, management is all about the organization and disbursement of an organization’s resources in a way that will ensure that the set goals and objectives yield the expected if not better results. Leadership on the other hand evolves around the motivation and monitoring of employee’s activities to ensure that they effectively work in unity towards the set goals and objectives (Ricketts, n.d). To better understand the differences between these two aspects, we have to discuss the roles that leaders play and those of the managers towards the success of any business venture.

Leaders are best described through their character traits and their ability to influence positive change within an organization. According to Ciulla (2006), an exemplary leader should have a sense of purpose and should therefore dedicate all the available resources towards achieving the set goals and objectives. He/she should also that there is trust and commitment between all the faculties involved in the running of the business (the administration, employees and clients). They should be beacons of hope and confidence to their employees. These attributes should be seen from the efforts that leaders put so that they can motivate and retain the trust from those that follow them. Morgan (2006) defines an organization as an institute, group or an association which has a specific purpose and goals. In order for a group to deem itself as an organization, there must be observable elements of cooperation and coordination within the members of the group in accordance to a pre-prescribed format. As such, key to the establishment of any organization is the presence of some common and quantifiable goals which are to be pursued collectively.

Leaders are responsible for the policy formulation process and they monitor the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the same. They also set the goals and objectives of the organization as well as the procedures to be followed in order to achieve these goals. There are various types of leaders. They can be described through the leadership style that they adapt. A charismatic leader leads by example. He/she appeals to the employees to do the right thing in an ethical manner and rewards excellence. In addition, leaders are risk-takers, result-oriented and in most cases command a high level of respect from their subordinates. In essence, leadership is all about the ability of an individual to set achievable goals and ensure that the responsible personnel work towards achieving them within the given timeframe.

On the other hand, management is the process of enforcing the policies, goals and objectives set by the leaders. Managers can arguably be taken as middlemen between leaders and employees. They are tasked with the duty of making things happen as per the stipulated standards. Management is about the equitable distribution of available resources such that they meet the set goals. Management has little authority on policy making and only ensures that activities are done in accordance to the standards stipulated by the leaders.

More distinct are the skills applied in executing the duties of the managers and those of the leaders. Gill (1998), states that leadership is more concerned with the development of an organization’s vision and mission while management dwells mainly on the implementation of these plans. In addition, leadership is about driving change as well as anticipation of environmental changes while management deals mainly with the adaptation process in times of change. On the same note, leadership skills take on a positive view of things while management is more concerned with the negative consequences that may arise at any point. As such, leaders are viewed as persons who know their flaws and strong attributes and have the ability to accept and correct their mistakes while managers avoid taking risks so that they can protect themselves and the jobs that they are tasked with.

It should be noted that despite their differences, these two components often complement each other and efforts should be put to ensure that they coordinate accordingly to ensure that the organization is always successful with all its undertakings.


Bennis, W. (1999). The Leadership Advantage: Leader to Leader. Web.

Ciulla, J.B. (2004). Ethics, the heart of leadership. New York: Green wood publishing group.

Gill, R.K. (1998). Leading organizations: perspectives for a new era. New York: Sage Publishers.

Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. USA: Sage.

Ricketts, K.G, Community, and Leadership Development. (n.d). Leadership verses Management. UK: University of Kan Turky.

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