Over and over, there has been confusion between the terms leadership and management. It should however be noted that although the concepts share some similarities, the two terms are two distinct entities (Friensen, 1995). Leadership is defined as a process or a position. In actual terms, leadership is defined as a process that helps direct and mobilize people and their ideas. Similarly, it is defined as a group of people in formal positions where leadership is involved. There is a profound difference between leaders and managers. Effective leaders ‘pull’ the subordinates by continually asking questions and probing all levels of the organization for information. In the process, they test their own perceptions, and rechecking the facts to confirm consistency (1991).They interact with their juniors and want to know whether the systems in place are viable or not. With the belief that they are not custodians of knowledge, leaders keep an open mind for serendipity to bring them the knowledge they need to know what is true. A significant source of information for leaders is the knowledge of the failures and mistakes that are being made in their organization. Whereas leading is about effectiveness, managing is about efficiency. Managing is about how success will be achieved. Management is about systems, controls, procedures, policies, and structure. Management refers to establishment of goals and objectives and setting of systems and mechanisms in order to achieve them. This can be achieved through planning, controlling, budgeting for resources and proper human resource management. Management seeks to improve efficiency which boosts an organization’s performance and its fulfillment of goals and objectives.

Depiction of the relationship between leadership and management is the fact that managers; and successful ones must possess leadership as an asset. To be a great manager, one must comprehensively understand what it takes to be a good leader. Care must be taken in distinguishing between the two concepts. Although the two terms are often seen as akin, the two have profound differences. The differences between leadership and management can be explored through different basis or spectra.


A substantive difference between leadership and management is the scope/focus. Whereas management has its focus on setting of goals and planning to achieve these set standards, leadership on the other hand focuses on creation and support of potential through reinforcement and motivation. Effective management involves the focus on tactical activities, involving directive and controlling approaches. Management gets business running in dynamic environments.


Leadership sets direction for others to follow and nurturing the human resource to excellent performance through guidance. Leaders are also very focused on change. Recognizing that continual improvement can be achieved in their people and their activities can be a great step towards continued success. Being able to lead their teams through change, rather than manage them through it has inestimable rewards. In management, control of the organization is vested in the manager who in turn shares the responsibilities among subordinates. The principle behind control in management is doing as told, working with deadlines and achieving set targets with the available resources (Navahandi, 2006). Control is termed as ‘transactional’ where staff acts like robots i.e. doing what is instructed. Leadership relies on inspiration, appeal and charisma to assist subordinates in achieving the set targets. This is also referred to as transformational control where extrinsic rewards are used to motivate individuals towards better results. A manager focuses on tactical activities and often times have a more directive and controlling approach. The ability to lay strategies and achieve them is the prime goal of the manager. besides, the manager bears the responsibility of organizing the subordinates to achieve the set targets.

Skills involved

Effective management demands for proficiency in human, technical and conceptual skills. These are necessary within different levels of management within a group or organization. Not surprisingly, these skills are not useful for effective leadership. Unlike management, leadership skills are difficult to learn. This is due to the reason that leadership is more behavioral in nature. Leadership is often described as an innate approach to authority. On the other hand, management is the professional aspect of authority.


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Leadership is viewed as risk-seeking although it is rare to find management teams blindly plunge into risks. Under leadership, the problems and hurdles experienced during the attainment of goals and visions are solved in a charismatic process involving as many subordinates or staff as possible. There is also an aspect of independence of mind when involving the leadership function rather than reliance on senior members for direction and decision-making. (Bartol, 1998) On the contrary, Management is risk averse and always disinclined towards taking of risks. Under all spectra, managers and management team will avoid risk taking at all costs. When pursuing any visions, management will seek routes and potential opportunities while averting all hurdles and risks as possible. If anything, management will always aim to hit the low costs mark at the shortest time possible.


Leadership is geared towards change of attitudes to enhance performance. This could be achieved through strategies such as reward systems, motivational sessions and continuous staff development. On the reverse, management only seeks to maintain ‘stability’ in the organization. The term stability is used to refer to a positive continuum in performance. The turbulent business world and the dynamics involved demand for continuous profit-making if a business is to survive the market.

Goal Achievement

The attainment of goals in leadership is long-term based. The role of the leadership team is to assist the staff to realize the long term goals of the organization. This however does not imply that leaders are not achievement oriented. Their focus is majorly on the process of achievement rather than attention on the product while ignoring the process. Management however, is based on short term goals. The basis is here and now to fit the market trends. The role of the management team is to ensure that the subordinates work towards the realization of the set objectives in the shortest time possible and the available resources at the moment.

Management involves the control of resources to maintain development geared towards the attaining of goals and objectives and growth in already established plans. Management usually consists of people who are experienced in their professions, and who have worked their way up the company (exhibit adequate experience). A manager knows how each layer of the system works and may also possess a good technical knowledge. A leader however can be a new individual in the company who has bold, fresh, new ideas but might not have experience or wisdom (Navahandi, 2006).

Although it is established that the two entities are separate, the terms leadership and management still share some common aspects. For instance, when managers are involved in influencing a group of employees to meets its goals, they are operating under leadership. Besides when leaders are involved in aspects such as planning, organizing, staffing or controlling, they are operating within management. So while we are spending the majority of this publication distinguishing between leadership and management, suf­fice it to say that while different, they may never be completely separate. Leadership and management both involve decision-making processes, creating networks of people and relationships that help in meeting the organization’s goals and objectives. Leadership and management are both vital and when equally balanced and checked, an organization improves its performance. However, many firms in the recent past have put more emphasis on management leaving out leadership. A survey carried out by the Conference Board of Canada (1996), established that 54% of companies surveyed exhibited leadership ‘deficiency’.

The present business field is a turbulent one that requires progressive dynamics and balance between leadership and management. Organizations with managers but lacks leaders are prone to downfalls. Balance must be struck between the two entities to enable firms cope with challenges and opportunities as presented by the environment. Consequently, firms should prevent the phenomenon of being ‘over managed’ and ‘under-led’. For continuity in any organization, management and leadership are key components in for service delivery, exploration of opportunities and continuity in any organization (Rost, 1991). One without the other paralyzes a firm’s functionality and success. For instance, good leadership skills without the support of managerial skills lead to the inability to drive the firm’s targets and vision. Similarly, management with poor leadership skills and abilities always pauses challenges in organizations.

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