Leadership Vs Management – Discover Where You Fit

Leaders say “This is where we are going”. Managers say “This is how we are going to get there.”

Leadership vs Management; although these terms are used interchangeably, they are two faces of the same coin. Knowing whether you are more of a good leader or a good manager will help build self-confidence. This will result in a greater impact when dealing with others and running your business in general. So, what is the difference?

Contrasting personalities: Managers emphasize wisdom and power; they are problem-solvers focusing on organizational goals, resources, people etc. They have foresight and are capable of resolving issues. They are hard working, analytical, tolerant, persistent and kind towards others. Leaders are supposed to be brilliant, but are often lonely animals. They believe in achieving self-control before they try controlling others. Leaders can envision a purpose and inspire others to work towards it. They are passionate and imaginative and are natural risk takers. Somewhat like the king of the jungle.

Differing attitudes: A key difference between managers and leaders is in their attitude towards organizational goals. Managers adopt a passive attitude toward goals, since they are usually not the ones that set them. A manager views goals more as a necessity to be dealt with, rather than a desire to be fulfilled. Managers occupy themselves with existing and current issues. Hence, they are usually found reacting to new situations as they happen, rather than anticipating them. Leaders, on the other hand, are proactive since they are far more focused on the future. They generate new ideas and have a personal commitment towards realizing them. Leaders are change agents, and can transform existing attitudes and beliefs.

Varying work orientation: Managers view work as a process to get things done. They are clever at plotting strategies and making efficient decisions. Managers will rarely upset the applecart, and will therefore play a balancing role as far as possible. That means that they can reconcile opposing views, and empathize with most people. Leaders tend to view work as a bit of a bore. Their dislike for the mundane drives them to develop new approaches to long-standing problems. Quite often, they’ll set the cat among the pigeons by throwing open debate on issues that people feel strongly about. Leaders can bind others towards common ideals and raise expectations all round. The biggest difference between managers and leaders lies in their risk taking ability. No prizes for guessing who can take how much.


Divergent interpersonal skills: The difference between managers and leaders is once again underscored in the way they deal with others. Managers are a collaborative breed, preferring to work with others. However, they maintain a low level of emotional involvement in their work relationships. Again, the manager’s affinity for stability is reflected in the fact that he will attempt to resolve differences, make compromises, and establish a power equation. Leaders, if they work at all, are more likely to do it alone. At the same time they are sensitive, intuitive people concerned about the impact their decisions could have on employees. Despite that, a leader will usually elicit strong feelings from followers – both favorable and otherwise. This is fine by them, since they do like to maintain a healthy dose of turbulence in their relationships.

Opposing sense of self: Managers are at peace with the world. They identify closely with their environment and believe that their role is to ensure a continuation of the way things are. Their sense of self is derived strongly from the values they cherish – fulfillment of duties and responsibilities and promoting harmony in their surroundings are central to it. Managers are comfortable acting as conservators of the existing order of affairs. In marked contrast, leaders view themselves as quite separate from their environment. Their lives are all about trying to find a sense of order, in what they perceive to be a chaotic world. Despite being part of social groups, they never really have a sense of belonging. Their need for change is again reflected in their perception of their role in society – which is to act as a change-agent or reformer.

It is terribly obvious that there is a difference between leadership vs management in many every aspects of their personality. what is not obvious, is the fact that both are equally necessary for the overall development of an organization. Any team composition must have a healthy mix of leaders and managers, which will ensure that their complementary strengths work in the greater interest of the organization. It’s also a fact that both managers and leaders can be built, or at least improved.

So, where do you fit in Leadership vs Management? There is no right answer. Sometimes managers get promoted to become leaders. Sometimes leaders need to act as managers as their organizations grow. Just be aware of your own strengths and apply them as needed according to the differences given above.

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