5 Major Differences Between Leadership and Management: An Expert's Perspective

Leadership and management are two distinct concepts, but they are often confused. While there are similarities between the two, there are also some key differences. The 5 main differences between a leader and a manager are that leaders create a vision, create change, focus on people, seek feedback, and lead people; while managers execute the vision, react to change, focus on structure, minimize weaknesses, and manage work. Leaders focus on the future while managers focus on the present.

Leaders make people follow them while managers have people who simply work for them. Leaders strive to be good managers and managers strive to be good leaders. Leaders have a vision that guides change while managers control or direct people and resources in accordance with the principles or values established by the organization in which they work. Who is a manager? A manager does more than acquire and exercise power. They use management skills to plan, build, and direct organizational systems in order to fulfill missions and objectives.

Managers generally ensure that daily operations run smoothly according to pre-established parameters. They make sure that important work is done and done well. They focus on meeting objectives, often with a controlled approach. In an opening debate at the annual Harvard Business School Online conference, Connext, HBS professors Nancy Koehn and Joe Fuller explored the interaction between leadership and management and shared how they define the two disciplines. By developing a personal leadership style through self-reflection and honest feedback, leaders can learn to empower their employees and inspire them to believe in important organizational initiatives and to carry them out.

Communication messages of change that come from leaders should prepare people to do things differently and explain why, while managers must continuously reinforce these messages. Management isn't leadership, but that doesn't mean it has a minor role in an organization. A manager can be successful without being an inspirational or paradigm-shifting thought leader. When it comes to project management, a good manager is able to set clear objectives, plan thoroughly, develop standard procedures and processes, monitor the results with respect to the plans, and take the necessary corrective measures. In the business environment, leadership is not only limited to people but an organization can also achieve market leadership by defeating its competitors. One of the main differences between leadership and management is that administration is only for formal, organized groups of people while leadership is for formal and informal groups.

Leadership consists of leading people towards a common goal while management has to do with the process of dealing with or controlling things and people. However, leaders' vision of the future means nothing if it cannot be communicated transparently and clearly to both managers and employees. While leadership and management roles in the organization may vary, there are many areas where their duties and responsibilities overlap. Management is about organizing and maintaining the 5M while leadership is about persuading people in a positive direction to take advantage of their talent. When it comes to establishing and executing a company's mission and vision, managers and leaders have different roles.

By understanding the characteristics of effective leaders and how leadership differs from management, you can develop techniques to empower colleagues, provide feedback, and overcome specific organizational challenges. If your employer has hired HBS Online to participate in a program or if you choose to enroll in the undergraduate credit option of the Credential of Readiness (CoRe) program keep in mind that the policies for these options may differ. It is important for organizations to understand how leadership differs from management so they can create an environment where both disciplines can thrive together.