Leading Vs. Managing: Mastering The Art Of Influence And Direction

Leading Vs. Managing: Mastering The Art Of Influence And Direction
Summary: Learn about the roles and differences between leadership and management, essential for any successful organization. The article also offers insights on how to become a better leader or manager by developing key skills like communication, accountability, and problem-solving.

Understanding Leadership And Management

As conveyed by Stephen Covey: “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.“ The roles of managers and leaders are distinct but both are essential for any successful organization. A company needs both leaders and managers in equal measure to achieve its goals and inspire its staff to strive for excellence. Effective leadership sets a forward-thinking vision and objectives that can be translated into achievable, resource-driven goals by competent management. However, what many people overlook is that excellent leaders are also skilled in managing people, and successful managers are also capable leaders.

What Is Leadership?

Leadership is the process of providing guidance and inspiration to enable a group of people or an individual to accomplish a particular objective. A leader is someone who takes the initiative and makes significant efforts to achieve the goals of the organization. People start following them only when they see the leader's consistent efforts.

Sometimes, leaders rise through the ranks organically, while in other cases they may need to be sourced from outside the organization. Regardless of how they are chosen, inspiring others and fostering their creativity is the essence of leadership. Making choices, accepting accountability, and leading by example are all part of being a leader. Being a leader is about maintaining power along with building a positive and supportive ecology that encourages growth and achievement.

What Is Management?

Management is the process of administering an organization and its people, irrespective of whether it is a governmental organization, a private body, a not-for-profit business, or any other such body. Management involves planning, organizing, coordinating, and supervising activities and resources to achieve the set goals and targets. The primary aim of any management is to efficiently allocate resources to meet an organization's needs.

Managers have four key responsibilities, which consist of planning, organizing, leading, and managing. Unlike leadership, control is more focused on maintaining order and ensuring that tasks are completed in an orderly and dependent manner. Managers are responsible for ensuring that daily activities run smoothly and successfully.

What Is The Difference Between Leading And Managing?

The key differences between leadership and management have been outlined below:

1. Conceptualizing Ideas Vs. Implementing Plans

Leaders and managers have different techniques and approaches when it comes to implementing an organization's vision and ideas. Leaders are visionary in character and intend to inspire their subordinates to perform in ways that are beneficial to achieving the organization's goals and objectives. On the other hand, managers monitor their crew’s performance to ensure that their efforts are consistent and align with the organization's objectives.

In simple terms, good management ensures that ideas are implemented efficiently, whereas strong leadership focuses on developing and spreading ideas in an inspiring and engaging manner. A manager focuses on the details of how to complete a task rather than what needs to be completed. This is achieved by simply delegating tasks to other team members.

2. Aligning Vs. Organizing

Leadership is all about aligning the contributions of others toward the company's goals and making sure that everyone has the same opinion and is on the same page. The next step is for management to break down these goals into small achievable targets and efficiently allocate resources to achieve them. The strategies used by a manager are more organized and technical.

A leader is expected to think more broadly and apply a wider perspective to their thinking, while a manager is more likely to focus on details. Managers ensure that each team and every single person in the organization is moving in the same direction. They also need to ensure that the organization, as a whole, has objectives and goals that are aligned and beneficial to all.

3. Establishing Culture Vs. Managing Daily Operations

Competent managers tend to focus more on the present, while exceptional leaders typically focus more on the future. Leaders aim to set an example for others to follow, while managers are responsible for holding employees accountable when they deviate from the established business culture. They fulfil this responsibility by monitoring daily job activities and staff development.

To ensure that their colleagues and they themselves achieve the larger corporate objectives, managers concentrate on plans, strategies, budgets, and responsibilities. On the other hand, leaders attempt to shape the culture of the organization by envisioning future projects and potential expansion prospects.

4. Adaptability And Stability

One of the most important qualities of a good leader is flexibility. As a leader, the goal is to achieve positive results and drive change. To achieve this, it is necessary to be willing to let go of failed ideas and adapt to new ones. On the other hand, management roles are more focused on stability. This involves creating and maintaining procedures and frameworks to ensure consistent and reliable operations.

Despite seeming contradictory, stability and adaptability work together. Good leaders can generate innovative and creative ideas that can then be transformed into practical and effective procedures by skilled managers.

Leading And Managing: What Are The Similarities?

As Peter F. Drucker rightly said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” There are few areas and expertise where the roles and responsibilities of leaders and managers overlap. Here, we have mentioned the top five such similarities between leadership and management.

  • Communication
    Effective communication is imperative for the success of any organization. Employees expect to be kept informed and educated about the current state and prospects of their company. While management communication should be transparent and ongoing, leadership communication should inspire people to perform their best and strengthen team relationships.
  • Goal-oriented
    To be effective, managers and leaders must be skilled at creating goals. While managers develop the micro level, and leaders envision the macro, their approaches may differ; but both need to use strategic thinking, problem-solving, and deliberate decision-making to create attainable objectives and goals.
  • Motivating
    Effective leadership and management rely heavily on the team's motivation to fully engage in their work, meet deadlines, and ensure smooth operations. Leaders use storytelling and both external and internal rewards to motivate the team, while managers use them to establish clear expectations. Teams at all levels require encouragement as it keeps employees engaged and boosts morale.
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
    Both leaders and management have a shared responsibility to make and implement effective decisions. While leaders may oversee the organization as a whole, managers are accountable for decision-making at the grassroots or departmental levels.
  • Open-minded and transparent
    Managing and supervising others is a responsibility shared by both managers and leaders alike. They are responsible for setting the standards for acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the organization through their actions and demeanor. Soft skills such as integrity, openness, transparency, and responsibility are, therefore, crucial for them.

By owning up to their own mistakes, they create an environment where their team members feel comfortable admitting and learning from their own mistakes.

How To Become A Better Leader Or Manager?

Certain skills are unique to managing or leading teams, while others can be applied to both fields. If you are interested in applying for jobs in either leadership or management, there are some key qualities that you should possess in order to increase your chances of success.

  • Communication skills
    To effectively interact with your team, you must possess strong written and verbal communication skills. Being able to communicate information clearly and efficiently will lead to better decision-making and informed actions. Good leaders and managers always keep their teams up-to-date on current events, upcoming plans, and any obstacles that may arise.
  • Accountability
    A good manager or leader plays an important role in establishing a culture of accountability in the company. Sometimes, you may be held responsible for the actions of your team members. Each member of the team needs to be aware of their own role in order for the group to work together efficiently and creatively.
  • Problem-solving skills
    It is crucial for managers and leaders to be able to solve problems as they arise. Your ability to think critically will assist you in avoiding making hasty decisions. Having confidence in your profession is also important. Everything you do should reflect your vision and dedication. Even if you work as an independent contractor, having a strong sense of conviction will help you manage your clients and achieve your goals.
  • Human resource development
    It is crucial to constantly look for ways to foster potential within your team. This will ensure that you retain your best employees while also helping them grow and contribute to the company. Help team members to achieve their professional goals and aspirations. You can even enroll in a course to improve your people management skills.


Theoretically, management and leadership may seem to be opposing forces since leadership is more focused on planning and preparing for the future, while management is more about taking action and implementing those plans. However, it is not necessary to choose one over the other. By combining the traits of successful managers and leaders, one can create a balanced approach that motivates the team to achieve their goals. It is beneficial to evaluate your current skills and determine if you are more inclined toward management or leadership. Developing self-awareness can help you maximize both roles in your professional life.