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The Difference between Management and Leadership


A Leader is a Dealer in Hope -Napoleon Bonaparte

Leadership and management are often mentioned in the same breath but that doesn’t mean they are the same. Each has a unique set of qualities and actions. These create noticeable differences between the two and the distinctions have to be noted within corporate culture.

Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn summed up the distinction by noting that leaders inspire people to do something and managers tell them how it is done.  Leaders will concentrate on the vision and managers will be focused on the bricks and mortars of constructing the final product. Leaders will create value with ideas and inspire the right people to follow through on those beliefs. Leaders are the members of an organizational culture who can generate enthusiasm, and cultivate the kind of mindset that will lead to increase innovation and efficiency within the group. They can be said to have followers; those who believe as passionately in the idea as the leader. Leaders will enable others so that they perceive themselves as being valuable parts of the process. Those who are in leadership positions concentrate on motivating and encouraging people to strive to reach the goals necessary for success. Good leaders are known for having superior communication skills. They are able to continually explain the message and encourage people to keep striving to fulfill the mission.

Management is, above all, a practice where art, science and craft meet  – Henry Mintzberg 


Management is a science of control and not necessarily in a negative sense at all. The best definition of a manager is someone who directs the day-to-day effort and anticipates costs that may be incurred along the way. Managers will take the tools that are given to them, which include the expertise of subordinates, and work to craft the final result. They bring substance to the vision of a leader. They will also have a firm understanding of the logistics and the costs of obtaining an objective. Managers are in the business of directing people towards the goals and objectives stated by a leader. While motivation is a critical part of a manager’s toolbox, being able to clearly give direction and instruction are more important.

There is no question that both are necessary for organizational success. Management and leadership have separate qualities and yet they complement each other. Competent management cannot really make up for poor leadership, and the best leaders are going to fail if inspired objectives cannot be effectively implemented. It is also possible within an organization for there to be leaders and managers alike. Working together, a leader and a manager can be effective cogs in the wheel that drives the organization forward.

A prime example of leadership and management working hand in glove is found in the history of the American Civil War.

Ulysses S. Grant was considered a superior general and his leadership brought an end to the war. U-GrantIn his memoirs, Grant admitted his success was owed in part to the efficient management of the quartermaster’s corps under General Rufus Ingalls. Wherever Grant’s army moved, the supply train followed with exactly what was needed for the various regiments. There was never a scarcity of food or ammunition. Grant’s strategic decisions could be met because Ingalls made sure all necessary supplies were readily available. An inspirational leader working with a highly competent manager assured the final victory at Appomattox Courthouse.

Leadership proposes and management disposes. While unique in their respective responsibilities, both are absolutely essential for any organization to compete successfully in the modern marketplace.

To summarize, here are some of the main traits of leadership and management.


  • Vision;
  • Superior Communication;
  • Ability to Inspire;
  • Honesty and Integrity.



  • Ability to Direct;
  • Execution;
  • Control of the Process;
  • Understanding of  People.


When these distinct qualities are harnessed towards reaching the ultimate goal of an organization, the differences work in concert. Instead of working against each other, they unite in an efficient process to deliver positive results.

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