Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Leadership vs. Management: KNOWING the difference can MAKE a difference

Are you a manager, or are you a leader?

The terms ‘management’ and ‘leadership’ are often used interchangeably. Some people approach leadership and management as synonymous, considering them “one in the same”. There certainly are similarities. Both typically have influence over employees or constituents, and both possess some level of authority or power.

Aside from these similarities, leadership and management have a great deal of distinction.  So what are the differences? Let’s first take a look at how to define each of these important roles.

Management usually deals with making systems, people, and resources work together over time. This might involve several different functions, from planning and budgeting to organizing and staffing. Administering and evaluating projects, maintaining order, and taking a problem-solving approach are all key roles of a manger. A good manager will assure order and consistency while getting the job done, and getting it done right.

Leadership, on the other hand, is focused less on planning and organizing and more on visioning and setting direction. A leader needs to be strategic and motivated, aligning the right people around the right opportunities for the future of the business or organization. Possessing a long-range perspective, a leader is innovative and creative when approaching the future.

Leadership sets the course, while management navigates it. Leadership builds trust with the team, and management provides accountability and structure. Leadership dreams and develops “what might be” in the future, while management maintains and strengthens “what is” in the here-and-now. Leadership’s eyes are fixed on the horizon, while management’s eyes are fixed on today.

Do all leaders make good managers? Probably not. Do all managers make good leaders? Not necessarily.

If not the same person, it is ideal that leaders and managers cooperate with each other. Leaders might establish long-term and visionary goals, while a manager is tasked with planning and organizing the organization around those goals. While managers focus on the logistics of a team, leaders focus on the relational and interpersonal aspects of a team. Organizations and businesses need both management and leadership to succeed.

So, we’ll reflect again on the opening question: Are you a manager, or are you a leader? Knowing your own strengths and matching them to the needs of your organization or business will help you develop in your leadership and management roles.


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