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Two words that often come up in business: leadership and management. The two are often thought about as one and the same – after all, aren’t managers, by nature, leaders, and the leader of a team best described as a manager? Leadership vs management, here we show the conflict between the two.
But in practice, the two concepts are very different. Though there’s a great deal of overlap between the two, each one is its own distinct skill set, designed to meet different needs. For example, one can take a leadership role without being a manager, and while managers are likely to need some leadership skills, management isn’t synonymous with leadership. That is one of the differences between leadership vs management.
The Difference Between Leadership vs Management?
So what makes management and leadership different?
In the most basic terms, management is about getting things done. It’s about seeing that the functions of a business or organization are executed successfully and efficiently. Technically, a manager doesn’t have to be a leader at all, although it definitely helps — it can lead to a better work environment for all involved.
Leadership, on the other hand, is about inspiring and motivating people to do their best, whatever the activity that’s being carried out. A leader doesn’t necessarily have to be in a position of authority, although strong leadership skills are often what gets someone appointed to such a position. Leadership tends to be more about personality, enthusiasm, and charisma more than a command of the workings of an organization.
In short, managers tend to be valued for their technical and organizational skills, and/or their knowledge of an organization’s inner workings. Leadership tends to be more “people-oriented,” with leaders valued for being able to influence and inspire others.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences between leadership vs management.
What Skills do Managers Possess?
- Organizational skills. Good management involves planning, and good planning requires strong organizational skills. A manager must often not only think about setting achievable goals and organizing their team to meet those goals, but also think about the time, money, and labor involved.
- Project and process management skills. Equally as important as planning a goal is knowing how one’s organization will get there. Businesses and organizations run on processes, from hiring and firing to budgeting to maintaining customer service. A project manager in particular needs a specific array of skills to help a project run smoothly.
- Delegation. By definition, a manager shouldn’t do everything alone. Knowing how to properly divide tasks between team members to get the most done is a core part of any management strategy.
- Interpersonal skills. Although management is largely about strategy and allocation of resources, it’s also important to remember that an organization is made up of people, and should be dealt with respectfully and properly. This is one area where leadership vs management skills have heavy crossover.
- Team management. Finally, a good manager must make all these skills work together to form a team into a cohesive unit, making sure that not only does the team follow the necessary processes and procedures, but also work well with each other to stay focused and achieve their goals.
What Traits do Leaders Have?
- Visionary. Perhaps most of all, a leader must be open-minded, imaginative, innovative, and magnetic. A good leader must, by definition, inspire and motivate, and that means communicating and bringing those qualities to life for others.
- Risk-taker. Another vital leadership skill is being bold and “thinking outside the box.” Leadership isn’t about following established dogma, but rather about finding new ways of doing things. Leaders innovate more than they organize, and break new ground rather than relying on what they know.
- Change management. A manager’s job, fundamentally, is to bring stability, whereas a leader tends to be more focused on creating positive change. Perhaps the old way of doing things isn’t working as well anymore and could stand improvement, or a dramatic change must be made to adapt to new circumstances. That’s the difference between leadership vs management.
- Critical thinker. Of course, in order to be innovative and inventive, a leader must be able to think critically, examine the established processes and habits of an organization, and figure out how to best improve them from an objective standpoint.
- Motivational. Finally, and most importantly, a leader must be able to motivate others to follow these new ways of thinking and bring their own enthusiasm and passion to their team. This is one reason why leadership vs management skills have so much crossover.
The Demand for Leadership Skills
Managers with strong leadership skills are likely to find themselves in high demand — and that demand grows even higher once you achieve a degree in management and leadership. Good leadership skills can take you far in the corporate world, and those who can remain flexible, innovative, and authentic as the 21st century moves forward will find themselves able to command an appealing salary for their abilities.