The words management and leadership are often used interchangeable, which makes me crazy. For starters, they aren’t. They are similar, yet different and it’s important to understand the difference for 3 reasons:
1. To clarify roles and responsibilities
Knowing and understanding the difference will help managers and leaders get clarity about what is expected of them so they can be successful in their positions.
2. Help managers successfully transition to leadership positions
Many managers, when they transition into a leadership role, continue to manage. Why? They simply don’t understand the difference. So, we have a lot of leaders who continue to manage and not lead. To quote John Kotter, author and Harvard Business School Professor, “most U.S. corporations today are over managed and under led.”
3. To build a leadership pipeline
Understanding the fundamental differences can help a company give potential leadership candidates the exposure and developmental experiences they need to prepare them to assume leadership positions.
So, now that we know the WHY, let’s look at the WHAT.
A Closer Look At Management and Leadership
According to Kotter, management promotes stability and copes with complexity and leaders press for and cope with change. One is not better than the other as both are necessary for success.
Management and leadership both involve what needs to be done, finding the right people to do what needs to be done and then finally ensuring that it gets done. Although complementary, they each go about doing things in different ways.
A Look At How They Differ
Management’s focus is on complexity and avoiding chaos by putting things in order. Management does this by developing a plan with an accompanying budget that is in line with the goals of senior management. Their plan is usually short term – a year at most – and outlines specific objectives, due dates and steps to take along the way.
To support the plan, management creates an organizational structure and begins staffing it with qualified people. During this time, managers delegate tasks, coach and develop their people and handle anything having to do with the day-to-day management issues.
Finally, management focuses on controlling and problem solving. They monitor the results of their plan by way of reports, meetings and dealing with problems as they arise. Their ultimate goal is to support leadership.
Leadership, on the other hand, begins by setting a direction and developing a vision for the distant future. Leadership is much more strategic and looks toward what could be.
Next, leaders focus on aligning the right people against their vision. They must ensure that they clearly communicate their vision and that it is understood and that people are committed to it.
Finally, motivate and inspire people to ensure their continued commitment to the vision and making sure obstacles don’t get in the way of achieving their goal.
We Need More Leaders
Suffice it to say, that there is a need – even though we are in an economic downturn - for more leaders. Companies need to “walk the talk” and really focus on developing talent by implementing an integrated talent management process.
At the same time, they should keep in mind a warning from John Kotter - that strong leadership with weak management is not good and is sometimes actually worse than the reverse. Kotter fells the real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.