It is quite common to hear the words leadership and management used interchangeably. But there is a critical difference between the two. Management is all about the day to day operations and tasks that a team needs to be working on at any given time. It’s a day to day running of a team and making sure everybody is doing what they need to be doing at the right time.
A manager’s there to help plan, organize, and coordinate a team to get to a goal. In essence, a manager is dealing with or controlling work and people. On the flip side to day to day task management, leadership is all about the people on your team. It’s less about what you are doing, and more about who you are being. Leadership is the act of leading a group of people towards a common goal or outcome. Leaders have three common traits. They inspire others to share a vision. They motivate the people around them to act on that vision. They also encourage others, and also help overcome any obstacles that get in the way of achieving that vision. A leader will generally be someone who can innovate and come up with a clear vision for a product, whereas a manager might be better at organizing and planning on short term goals and targets. There is overlap between the two roles.
A manager and leader both have to have excellent communication skills to get their points or plans across with their people. They still need to be great motivators, as both roles involve getting someone or group of people to do something for you. Managers and leaders also have to be great delegators, as when there’s lots of work to do that a manager or leader is responsible for, they aren’t going to do all that work themselves. They have a team to do it for them. So it’s essential to be able to delegate that work effectively to different team members.
Let me highlight the main differences again. A manager is responsible for managing work and getting the people to execute on that work to be completed by a specific deadline. A leader, on the other hand, owns a plan that can lead, inspire, and motivate a group of people to achieve a common goal. Another way of thinking about this is that a manager has subordinates, and a leader has followers. Subordinates are required to obey orders from their manager while following a leader is more optional.
Leadership works when people are inspired by a leader’s vision and the build up of trust. Leaders may also challenge a status quo in an organization. Whereas a manager follows the rules and steers the team in the right direction. You can have managers who are also leaders, where they are good at running day to day operations but also motivate and inspire a team to follow along the team strategy. You can also have managers who are not typically dependable leaders, and their people feel obliged to follow their orders. Not because they want to or they’re inspired, but because they think they have to. You can also have a leader who’s good at setting a vision and inspiring trust, but is not a very good manager when it comes to dealing with day to day tasks of the team.