Management vs Leadership…

“It’s the million dollar question with a million possible answers; what’s the difference between leadership and management?

I have 30 years’ experience leading people so I’d like to think my thoughts aren’t redundant in the field however there are so many blogs surrounding these two concepts that it’s difficult take a fresh approach and write something impactful, but here goes…

Firstly, we have to question whether there really is a difference between being a manager and being a leader. Most people will say ‘yes of course there is’ but the difficulty lies in articulating these differences. To come to a conclusion, we need to establish what sets the two apart. What does a leader have that a manager doesn’t? What does a manager do differently to a leader?

I recently blogged about adopting leadership qualities and using them to your advantage. I believe everyone has the ability to be a leader but there’s no denying the existence of born leaders. Those people who have the ability to inspire a crowd, someone who has so much passion and belief in their chosen purpose that you yearn to follow them and become part of their journey.

Now that’s not to say you can’t be an inspiring manager but there are some prerequisites to consider.

For me, the difference between managers and leaders manifests in their actions. Managers administrate, leaders innovate. Manager’s delegate, leaders inspire and managers implement, whilst leaders direct.

To be a good manager, you need to motivate your staff and earn their respect but ultimately, you need to be able to get the best out of the people you manage and make sure they are doing the job to the best of their ability.

As a manager, you have learnt through experience and adopted a specific structure to get the answers you need in order to get the job done. You have set a goal and ask the how and when in order to accomplish that goal. I like to think of managers as the engine of the business; they keep the business moving whilst increasing profitability.

Leaders, on the other hand exude charisma and gravitas. They find a way of encouraging people to follow them by intrinsically changing their vision. They make people believe they can make a difference and following them will be the best decision they ever made. Just look at Martin Luther King or Winston Churchill – they are the epitome of great leaders! Their legacy continues to this day because their impact was felt worldwide.

Leaders are the type of people who are interested in the big picture. They’re focused on vision, not just keeping the cogs turning. I’ve met many leaders in my time and the one thing they all have in common is the ability to make you feel like you can take on the world and cross any hurdle along the way. They inspire you to be someone you really want to be.

There are many overlapping similarities between the role of a manager and that of a leader so the confusion surrounding this question is understandable. However the qualities I’ve mentioned above can help you decipher which end of the spectrum you fall under.

So, do you lead or do you manage?”

James Caan



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