07 Dec 2016

Leadership and Management – what’s the difference?

Aside for the question “are leaders born or made?” questions about potential differences between leadership and management seem to be the most resistant to definitive answers. I thought I might enter the ring on this one and do a bit of shadow boxing with the subject.


Firstly, while desirable it is not necessary for a leader to be a good manager. It may be enough that they guard the ‘vision’ of the venture and negotiate obstacles associated typically with it’s purpose, for example; financing and alliances and the mobilization of people.  It is probable that such leaders will delegate the organisation of the venture to others and if the leadership is an investor then involvement might end there. It is at this point that the skills of the management disciplines are required.


Beyond all other factors it is organisation that turns ideas and money into sustainable and resilient ventures that grow. It is organisation that puts disciplines and structures in place that enable repeatability, scale and complexity to meet the purpose and realize the ‘vision’. It is the disciplines and skills of managers that organize the visionary’s ideas and money.

If leaders do not have to be managers, then do managers have to be leaders? Yes of course they do, and why? For the simple reason that it will be ‘followers’ that organize all aspects of the venture and good followers are attracted to good leaders – the attraction of excellent staff, their retention and commitment are a function of the values, ethics and capabilities of the leadership.

Managers have to embody leadership and at organisation levels there is no difference between leadership and management.

For more on this, consider enrolling on the next series of our Foundations of Management course, starting in February 2017, which provides the key requirements to turn managers into leaders.