What's the Difference Between Leadership vs. Management?


When you think about leadership vs. management, it's easy to lump the two concepts into one category. However, that'd be a massive oversimplification. Concerning leadership vs. management, if you know the difference, it puts you in the perfect position for long-term success.

This blog post is all about clearing up the confusion regarding the significant differences between management and leadership. Most importantly, it will also help determine into which camp you fall. Who knows, perhaps it can change the course of your next big project?

First, What do Management and Leadership Have in Common?

It may be simpler to start with how the two relate to one another. Think of a Venn diagram. Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), there's a lot of overlap. Managers and Leaders could very well be the exact same thing.

It's easy to see what they have in common. Both leaders and managers are likely in positions of power. Managers and leaders are responsible for teams of people, all of whom need to deliver on goals, follow company policy, and exhibit value through their respective positions.

However, there's a critical point where the two diverge. For example, managers may not exhibit good leadership. However, any employee is capable of showing excellent leadership skills.

Traits of Leaders and Managers

What are some key traits and skills exhibited by managers versus leaders? Are they really that different? Let's break it down into ten traits each.

Manager Traits

Managers have a lot of responsibility. Usually, managers have a great idea of company expectations, a slew of applicable skills, and industry knowledge. Great managers exhibit talent through experience and raw skill. So, what are good manager skills?

  • Technical skills
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Able to set and achieve goals
  • Team focused
  • Motivation
  • Increase productivity
  • Strategy execution
  • Implementing frameworks
  • Resilience

Leader Traits

Leaders exhibit more significant 'soft skills,' focusing on effective means of meeting deadlines through emotion, logic, and collaboration. You'll probably see some similar manager traits here. What are good leadership skills?

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Good communication
  • Good with people
  • Being understanding
  • Problem-solving
  • Able to share responsibilities
  • Insight
  • Turning weakness into strength

What Does It Take to Be a Good Leader?

Unfortunately, this isn't a clear-cut answer. Some people measure success by pure skill and good management. Some define excellence through comprehensive and empathetic leadership.

Overall, leaders do a lot of things. Mainly, leaders need to be there for their employees. Employee advocacy and authentic communication can mean a world of difference on various projects.

You want employees to feel 'safe.' You also want to take core company values and deliver on company expectations, all while emphasizing collaboration, creating value, and encouragement.

Being an effective leader is different for everyone: multiple leadership styles fit various personalities and company policies.

Author of Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek, lays out what sets leaders apart from managers.

“Leaders are the ones willing to look out for those to the left of them and those to the right of them. Leaders are the ones who are willing to give up something of their own for us. Their time, their energy, their money, maybe even the food off their plate. When it matters, leaders choose to eat last.”

Wrapping Up The Differences Between Leadership vs. Management

Now that you have a better idea of the key differences between leaders and managers, what group do you resonate with? Remember, one isn't inherently better than the other. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.

With good workplace communication, motivation, skills, values, and a healthy amount of respect, you can master both of these positions of power. Both are key to long-term success.

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