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Blog : Leadership vs management


Leadership vs management

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I often get asked the question, is there really a difference between management and leadership? And if so, what is the difference? The two are used synonymously, however when you look a bit closer, both serve different yet essential functions.

In the words of Peter Drucker “Management is doing things right”— improving operational performance, maximising revenues, and reducing expenses and “Leadership is doing the right things” — setting organisational priorities and allocating human and fiscal resources to fulfil the organisation’s vision.  A management function tends to be more reactive, whilst leadership is very pro-active. Both functions are equally important and if effectively performed can give your company a competitive edge. Whilst one gives the corporation a sense of purpose, the other provides it with the push in the right direction.

Both leaders and managers should be clear about their own values and those of the organisation, this is imperative to be successful.

So can these skills be taught? Management is easier to teach than leadership as this is much more about who you are than what you know; it is about your impact as felt by others rather than what you believe your impact is. As a result, leadership development requires more than learning a few techniques or a new batch of knowledge, rather it operates at the level of values, beliefs and mind-set, including your perceived limits stemming from your doubts and fears. Leadership can be taught however, and it helps to be supported by real professionals using more of a coaching technique than a teaching one.

One of the ‘must have’ skills for both managers and leaders is the ability to be a people manage and this comes hand in hand with having strong relationships with your teams, where people feel safe, able to ask for help and are not afraid to make mistakes. As a great manager or leader you need to have the ability to have big honest conversations and to be clear about what you want from your teams. Don’t confuse delegation with abdication though – set a very clear brief, points where progress should be discussed and outline expectations of the end result.  
Remember, the impact of having a strong management team is huge and can make or break an organisation. An organisation is only as good as the leaders in it, and as the adage goes, people don’t leave businesses, they leave people. Without a quality management team you run the risk of losing talented individuals who will make or break your organisation and its bottom-line.

A good leader is someone who puts an emphasis on ‘the people stuff’, someone that really understands and encourages joined up talent management and indeed understands its necessity to ensure a return on investment. In my eyes, the greatest leader of our time is American businessman, Jack Welch, who was quoted at the Institute of Director Conference in London, UK (2013) as saying “Your people are seeds and you, as the manager, are the watering can. It’s your responsibility to grow those seeds so they bloom and achieve their full potential.”

As leaders and managers, here are three things that you can do:

  1. Get to know yourself, understand the values and principles that matter to you, and discover what motivates you. There are online tools such as this eValue tool which can  help you identify your personal values and discover how aligned you are to those of your organisation
  2. Build a great support team around you, discover what motivates them and work on building those strong relationships…then trust them to do the job
  3. Set clear and achievable goals in line with the vision of your organisation

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