The difference between leadership and management is sometimes confusing, even to those who are engaged in both occupations. Some jobs require that you be adept at both. If that is the case for you, you should understand both concepts thoroughly so that you know when you are acting as a leader and when you are acting as a manager.
*Image--Boats in Port Townsend by Neil Cochran
When I read articles about leadership and management, they all seem to be filled with high-level language. I prefer real-world examples, so that is what you will find within these pages on leadership.
To quote Peter Drucker:
When you find yourself in your first management position, you’ll find that you are concentrating very hard to learn to do things right with the resources at hand. There will be a lot of decisions to make and you need to understand the business at hand and how things have been done in the past in order to be successful. You will not really think of changing things, only doing what is expected of you as you learn the job. Most of your issues will revolve around communication with upper management, your colleagues and your employees. You will have to learn how to deliver good news and bad news in the proper way. Management usually involves motivating individual employees, whereas leadership involves looking at the business from a strategic level.
A company or a department that has no leadership is very obvious to an outside observer. A company with no leadership is a company that does things the same way over and over again like they did it 30 years ago with no plan for the future. I encountered a number of companies like this in my consulting career. One company that I visited was doing over $1 billion in revenue and reported that revenue on spreadsheets. The owners refused to spend the cash in order to install a modern accounting system. Their answer when someone suggested this was, “We will just hire more accountants”. Because they were still doing things the way they did 30 years ago, they had no idea of the cost savings that they could realize right away by installing an accounting system. This company was unclear on the difference between leadership and management.
A good leader must have a strategy in mind with end goals. They must be able to keep those in goals in mind and have a vision when redesigning their company’s processes. They must keep themselves apprised of the latest technology and systems so they can make strategic decisions regarding their future vision. A manager will only make recommendations based upon the current work level, not based on any strategic changes that are coming. A leader looks toward the future, with the inside and outside world in mind. A manager makes decisions from an internal viewpoint only.
Some positions within the business world require that you have both leadership and management skills. As you move up the ladder, you will find that leadership skills go with higher levels of management. Positions that require leadership skills are likely to be higher paying.
I once had a boss who was paid to be a leader, but acted like a manager. He spent hours alone in his office devising spreadsheets that he sent to upper management as sales reports. When it came time for him to be terminated, his boss asked me if I could interpret any of these reports. I couldn’t help because I had never seen them. If he were acting like a leader, he would have been requesting automation for our inside sales group and justifying the expenditures with his spreadsheets. He would have been requesting more and better equipment to take the department into the future and to increase sales. As it was, he wouldn’t even request $10 calculators for my representatives, insisting that they could count on their fingers.
What do you think the difference between leadership and management is? Have you thought about this question before? I would love to hear your thoughts. I can be reached here:
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My name is Carolyn Jolly. My professional life has been in sales, marketing and IT management. Along the way I’ve been studying and experimenting with self improvement and personal development techniques for the past 20 years. I have had more than a few mind-blowing experiences and I’ve made some discoveries that have shaped my ideas. I’m now using this website to pass those ideas along.
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