The difference between Leadership and Management

A common question is "what is the difference between leadership and management". This something that most people really do not appreciate, and the fact that you are asking the question in the first place shows you have some inclination that there is a real contrast between leaders and managers.

First of all, let me describe a manager.

Managers are people who hold a position of authority, and have a team (or many teams) of subordinates below them in a hierarchy. The management case is most applicable in business, where the subordinates generally do what is asked of them, not out of blind faith in the manager, but out of reward in the form of monetary compensation (or salary).

Managers are very much task focused, which is unsurprising given that they are paid to get things done. This work is passed on to the manager's subordinates who do the work on the manager's behalf, who then reports the progress and outcomes of the task to his or her own manager.

Successful managers are often people form secure backgrounds, and are by their nature, risk averse. They are perfect for getting the job down with as little risk to the company as possible. Managers tend to concentrate on the successful completion of the next short term task or project.

And now for the LeadersThe Difference Between Leadership and Management

One principal difference about leaders is that they do not have subordinates, they have followers. Without followers there is no leader, and to be an effective leader, you must have effective followers. Leaders build their followers by surrounding themselves with like minded people, and often use their charisma and persuasiveness to influence people to join with his or her cause. Where managers simply get the job done, it is the leaders of this world who provide the direction, and ensure that a vision or mission is upheld.

To be a good leader there is a set of skills that is necessary. You must be able to see the bigger picture, and not get too involved in any one area, such as task, individual or team. A 'leader' who spends to much time focused on the task is behaving more like management, and someone who focuses too much on one individual during a task would be neglecting the rest of the team. It is a fine balance to strike.

In stark contrast to managers, leaders tend to seek risk and use transformational ideas and influence their followers into taking the risk with them. You have to be a very persuasive leader in order to be able to accomplish this. Leaders are not adverse to conflict, and where a manager might be concerned with being right and leader might be more concerned with asking "what is right?"