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Management vs. Leadership – What’s the Difference?

October 15th, 2012

By: Karen Colligan

You have people reporting to you. You’re accountable for your team’s results. You write performance reviews. Are you a Manager or a Leader? In many organizations those terms are used interchangeably. But there are fundamental differences between management and leadership.
Warren Bennis, organizational consultant and author of Learning to Lead, with Joan Goldsmith, said, “Managers are people who do things right. Leaders are people who do the right thing.”

As you consider the following, think about how you approach your team, individual employees and expected results.

Managers seek stability and continuity and achieve power based on their position of authority. They work toward an outcome of employee compliance. Leaders, on the other hand, seek change and uncertainty. They focus on innovation and base their power on personal influence. Leaders work toward an outcome of employee commitment.

Management skills focus on planning and organizing, and controlling through standard operating procedures. Leadership skills include developing a shared vision, creating strategy and providing motivation. The management approach to performance evaluations comprises rewards and discipline. The leadership approach includes support and development. The management communication style is transactional with an exchange of facts and data. The leadership communication style is persuasive and transformational, focused on committing people to action.

Managers define success as efficiency and maintenance of quality. Leaders define success as effectiveness and mutual trust. Managers strive to avoid anarchy, employee disorientation and surprise. Leaders want to avoid inertia, lack of motivation or boredom.

So are you managing or leading?

“If there is a clear distinction between the processes of managing and the process of leading it is between getting others to do – managing – and getting others to want to do – leading.”

– James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge.

Till next time,


Leadership, Management, Professional and team leadership

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