Difference Between Leadership and Management

Difference Between Leadership and Management

In this industrial era, the majority of the population is employed or is under a leader or a manager. The former or the latter is thought of as the person in charge of his/her direct reports development, whether in terms of metrics or progression. They may also be in charge of providing instructions or guidance for an employee to perform his/her job function properly.

The context of leadership or management does not stop at employment. It may also be present in groups or institutions. Someone is elected, promoted, or chosen as one or the other to oversee the doings of the collective. They are viewed as the one knowledgeable enough to handle others who aim to accomplish a similar goal. People seem to use these terms as if they are one and the same; however, exactly what is the difference between leadership and management? Is a leader also a manager and vise versa? Do they have a distinction in terms of feats and scope of service? Can one person take both roles at the same time?

To answer these queries and to establish a clear difference between leadership and management, this article will define each term and compare their faces in a table, so we can clearly grasp how we can identify one from another.

Definition of Leadership

What is leadership, and what makes up the difference between leadership and management? Leadership is a noun, and it refers to one’s ability to lead or guide others towards a common goal. Its usage as a word roots back to 1821, and it comes from the root word, leader, added with a suffix, -ship, which means the performing of an action. Its root “leader” came from an even older English noun lædere which refers to the person who guides and the verb lædan, which refers to being a guide or bringing forth.

In the modern literature, leadership refers to numerous things; it can refer to one’s act, state, or position of being a leader, a collection of leaders, the holding of the position to bring about change, the will to take on new or risky endeavors, the administration of public matters, an executive body or group in a company, a benchmark, a government being led by military forces, a congregation who oversee an enterprise, and a duration of pre-dominancy or pre-eminency of a someone.

What is the difference between management and leadership in relation to the acquiring of the trait or the skill? There are also various theories on leadership. In early western history, philosophers tried to uncover the makings that describe a leader. According to the trait theory of leadership, one has to have talents, skills, and physical features to enable them to attain a level of authority. Some concluded that it is an inherited trait, and that it is innate and not built.

Modern theorists explained that it may not be a stable trait, but rather a situational characteristic and that it may not present itself when the circumstances change. Other researchers with modern study technique revealed that leadership can present itself in distinct circumstances, and that, there’s a significance between the said trait and intelligence, adjustment, extraversion, conscientiousness, experiential openness, and general self-efficacy.

Definition of Management

How do we define management and the difference between management and leadership? Let’s start by defining the term. Management is also a noun, and it came from the amalgamation of the root word “manage” and the suffix “-ment”, which refers to process or action. The term “manage” dates back to the 1560s French term “manege”, which refers to handling, training, or direct a horse. By the 1650s, its meaning transformed to refer to being able to get by or carry on affairs.

The modern definition isn’t too far from the 1650s denotation. However, it is more wide-scoped that leadership, and these contexts make up most of the differences between leadership and management.

Management can mean any of the following:

  • the duty for and governance over an enterprise or a collective,
  • the individuals handling a company/ institution collectively,
  • the state of overseeing, safeguarding, and sustaining the welfare and health of,
  • a proficiency or a well-proportioned ability,
  • the home maintenance chores like laundering or housekeeping,
  • the process or deed of controlling or being controlled,
  • an agency owned by the government,
  • a specific method of performing something,
  • an intentional deception,
  • a wary disposition or state,
  • bureaucratic regulations,
  • the sustenance of resource levels,
  • a nonmanual staff,
  • the manner by which something is positioned in relation to other objects,
  • the way by which a person acts around another body,
  • an individual or collective that hires staff,
  • a set of rules and procedures followed by a batch or an individual,
  • an enterprise supplying a service on another individual or group’s behalf,
  • the method of utilizing and taking advantage of resources.

Indeed, it is a multifaceted word. It also entails creating a strategy for a business or a company by joining together its workforce to reach a common goal. It is also considered an academic discipline, wherein the students look into the social organization and organizational leadership to further their awareness and shape their capabilities.

Looking at the interpretations of each term, there is a clear difference between leadership and management in terms of their scope, but there are also similarities in terms of the qualities of people who have the said skills. To further draw the line, the next section compares them more clearly.

Leadership vs Management Comparison Table

Knowing the meanings of each term may not be enough to figure out the variation between the two. Therefore, we have laid out a chart between the two to make the distinction strong. We also provided the difference between leadership and management with examples of their characters and qualities.

Basis of Comparison   Leadership Management
Form of Speech Noun Noun
Root word Leader Manage
Main characterization Capacity to guide another individual or set of individuals towards a common goal Act of overseeing an individual or a group of individuals to accomplish a set of objectives
Main role To guide To oversee
Focus People Numbers or outputs
Strong suit Motivational skills Organization skills
Individual’s Qualities Empowering, inspiring, emotionally intelligent, charismatic Problem solving and decision making skills, strategic, visionary, analytical

Interpreting the table above, a leader and a manager may look like two separate people. The connotation of each and the merits of those who possess the skills make it appear that the difference between management and leadership is focused on the person. However, it makes sense to think that an individual can have both leadership skills and management skills at the same time.

It is because the world is transformed, and leaders/ managers often have to take diverse hats to be more efficient and effective in their roles. A leader may have to manage his/her own team’s plans to make sure that each individual associate executes his or her role effectually. A manager may need to lead his/her leaders to a better career path. These are the reasons why people often interchange these terms. The table with main differences above clearly illustrates these variances.

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Leadership vs Management

If you’ve gone through this article, you must be wondering what’s the difference between leadership and management. It can be that you are a manager or a leader or you are aspiring to be one of these two. If you’re currently in the role, it is understandable if you question where your role starts and stops, and what you can do to be better at your job. If you’re aspiring to be a manager or a leader, then knowing the disparity will help you decide which route you ought to go.

With all the information presented above, what is the difference between leadership and management? The distinction lies in their areas of focus. With leadership, the focus is mainly on the people and how can they can better function for the enterprise or the collective to reach the goals. With management, the focus is mainly on the process and how the organization can better perform under changing circumstances or under more challenging tasks. Needless to say, both roles can pose a challenge.

Fortunately, both of them can be developed through formal studies, experience, and tutelage. Regardless of whether they’re innate or learned skills, what’s clear is that anyone can be a leader or a manager if they put their mind into it. If they persevere to master the craft, and if they strive to advance on the underlying skills associated with leadership or management, they’d succeed in being a leader or a manager. 

Knowing the leadership and management differences also lets you determine which style works for a particular plight. If you’re a manager who needs to drive direct reports towards positive results, you may need to exercise your leadership acumen to empower and inspire.

If you’re a leader who needs to determine the best way to improve your performance, you may need to exercise your management skills to identify the more efficient way of completing your work. If you’re either, you will need to be flexible and adaptable to the situation at hand to know what the right move is.

Aside from clarifying the differences between management and leadership, it is the goal of this article to make you realize that both of them are transferable and useful skills. Having them can help you grow with others and excel not just in your job, but also in your personal life. With will and determination, anyone can take on these hats if they put their mind into it.