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Last Updated on March 20, 2018

Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

Leadership vs Management: Is One Better Than the Other?

Being an excellent manager doesn’t make someone a strong leader. We’ve all run into someone who uses the titles interchangeably, and it can be frustrating.

Knowing the difference leadership vs management helps you understand your role in your organization. By recognizing the difference, you can sharpen your abilities so that you can reach your fullest potential. Knowing what separates managers and leaders can also help you figure out how to achieve the best balance of leadership and management qualities.

In this article, I will explore the similarities and differences between leaders and managers, and help you figure out how to get the best of both worlds.

What are leadership and management?

What is leadership?

A leader’s power comes from their ability to get buy-in from others. They use their influence to challenge norms and guide innovation. As Drucker implies, leaders sometimes bend the rules to spur change. Peter Drucker aptly puts it:[1]

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To gain followers requires influence but doesn’t exclude the lack of integrity in achieving this.”

What is management?

Managers ensure that employees conform to standards and adhere to policies. They make sure that the goals of their leaders are carried out. They are capable and responsible, but their contribution to organizations is strictly by-the book.[2]

Managers are the people to whom this management task is assigned, and it is generally thought that they achieve the desired goals through the key functions of planning and budgeting, organizing and staffing, problem solving and controlling.

Leadership vs Management

Leadership and management have different characteristics and have different focuses. Here are 9 main differences between leadership and management illustrated with examples:

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    1. Focus on goals and vision vs. Focus on tasks

    Leaders are oriented toward their company’s vision and goals. They look at the big picture and come up with new ways to actualize their vision.[3] When leaders try new things, they always tie their ideas back to the company’s mission.

    Managers are task-masters. While they may care about an organization’s vision, their job is to stick to policy. Managers carry out the big ideas for their organization’s leaders.

    2. Sell it vs. Tell it

    Since leaders are always on the cusp of innovation, they have to convince others that their ideas are worthwhile. Remember, they gain their authority by encouraging others to buy into their line of thinking.

    On the other hand, managers don’t have to sell an idea because their role is to enforce policies. If someone steps out of line, they can fall back on procedures. Employees do as their managers tell them.

    3. Take risks vs. Minimize risks

    Anytime you try something new, you must take a risk. Leaders take risks by default because they often push for change.

    Managers are put in place to keep risks to a minimum. They make sure that workers are doing what they’re supposed to do in the manner the company tells them to. When problems arise, a manager may take the problem to leadership to amend policies.

    4. Encourage vs. Instruct

    The lines between management and leadership blur here depending on how the manager approaches their duties. Ultimately, leaders offer encouragement to employees to think outside the box and see the big picture.

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    Managers usually have clear guidelines about different aspects of their workplace. They may provide encouragement, but their main job is to tell you how things are supposed to be done. They’re the person you turn to when you want to figure out the best way to do your job.

    5. Go against the grain vs. Go with the flow

    Leaders need to challenge the status quo or else their organization risks stagnation.[4] They try new things to see if they can be more effective. They work to align company policies with the company’s vision.

    Managers, on the other hand, maintain the status quo. They’re doing their best work when they are enforcing the guidelines set out by the leaders.

    6. Motivate vs. Approve

    When you try new things, your risk of failing increases. Leaders must be motivated, and they’re great at keeping others motivated. They tie everything they do back to the company’s vision. When a company has a strong vision, a leader can use it as a rallying point for inspiring employees.

    When you’re managing people, your main objective is to decide if something passes muster. Managers look at their subordinates’ actions and determine whether they meet the standards set out by the company.

    7. Break the rules vs. Follow the rules

    Leaders have to play fast and loose with the rules to get ahead. Rules are often too rigid to allow for innovation, which means that leaders frequently bend them. When a company or organization is badly broken, leaders may disregard the rules entirely.

    If a manager wants to keep their job, they stick to the strategies set out by superiors. Bending and breaking the rules undermines their position, which can weaken the company.

    8. Inspire trust vs. Expect control

    When someone is guiding you through uncharted territory, you must have a certain level of trust in them. A strong leader is excellent at inspiring trust to take people to places they’ve never been.

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    Managers’ authority rests in their ability to have control outright. You don’t have to like or trust your manager to do what you’re told. Managers expect and need control to do their job well.

    9. Foster ideas vs. Assign tasks

    Leaders thrive on making improvements by trying new things. They foster new ideas and free thinking because this supports their aims. They know that if they can encourage more people to think outside the box, the collective brainpower of the group will drive more innovation.

    Managers can’t encourage free thinking because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill company expectations. Telling people what to do is the only way they can ensure that employees will do what they’re supposed to in the way they’re supposed to do it.

    Is leadership better than management (or vice versa)?

    As you may have noted, there are some stark differences between leaders and managers, but leadership and management are complementary. This video will explain to you why leadership and management go hand-in-hand:

    Leaders are risk-taking, innovating, game-changers. Managers are by-the-book maintainers of the status quo. That doesn’t mean that it’s better to be one or the other.

    Companies need managers and leaders to run smoothly. A lack of management puts organizations at risk for falling out of compliance and not meeting goals. A lack of leadership leads to a stagnant and uninspired workforce.

    Leaders and managers may exist at opposite ends of a spectrum when it comes to authority, but they’re on the same team. A leader can have a grand vision, but without managers to carry it out, the vision won’t be realized. Managers have to adhere to standards, but if they aren’t inspired by leadership, they won’t be able to share their vision with the workforce.

    Strike the balance between leadership and management

    There’s a happy medium between leadership and management. In some cases, you do need someone to perform as strictly one or the other. The best authority figures know when to apply leadership and management to greater and lesser degrees.

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    When to use leadership skills

    The degree to which you’re able to use leadership skills depends on your workforce and your company’s way of operating. If your members are clear about the team’s vision and goals, they’re more likely to be inspired by a leader.

    For an authority figure to lean more toward leadership, they need to be able to trust that workers are already fully aware of and compliant with company policies. If you constantly have to babysit your team members to perform basic tasks, it’s going to be difficult to encourage free thinking.

    When a team is made up of dedicated individuals who understand their roles, you have more leeway. They’ll be able to handle innovation and creativity while keeping up with their responsibilities. When a leader can enter into a dialogue with workers about company policies, they can come up with new ideas together.

    When to take on the role of a manager

    When you’re new on the job, you need somebody to tell you how things should be done. Managers are an absolute necessity when your team members are new. They can help workers figure out how to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible.

    Managers are also excellent at figuring out how much employees are capable of. They know that giving them too many responsibilities can have a negative impact on their performance and morale. They safeguard employee productivity by understanding how each person works and responds to stress.

    Organizations always need managers to help employees with uncertainties that they may have about their work. The manager is the person who can show you where to find a procedure in the handbook. They take the mystery out of the work so that employees can meet company expectations.

    Organizations need managers and leaders to reach their full potential. You can’t have one without the other. Running a company made only of leaders would be like herding cats. Having managers run the show means that you’ll get a lot done, but you’ll never get better.

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Published on July 16, 2018

    How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

    How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

    Everyone of us has a plan in our head that was taken over by family responsibilities, social pressure or sheep mentality. This made us a slave to instant gratification and started killing our plan and dreams.

    There is a way to revive your plans and dreams and live a happier life. No amount of salary can exceed your desire to do something that you are really passionate about.

    Let’s look at how to quit your job and start doing what you love:

    1. Identify if you really want to quit to follow your passion

    There could be many possible reasons to figure out why you are discouraged to go to work and start thinking about how to quitting your job. Figure out the reasons or signs that make you feel that you should really quit your job.

    If these reasons are not related to your office environment or your ultimate goal is to pay your bills from your job, you should consider getting a new job in the same field. It’s better to be an experienced receptionist than to live a dream that is not yours.

    2. Start with the side hustle and keep it going

    Work after you get back home and build up your product or service enough to gain confidence to quit your job.

    Build the website, write down the business plan, design your product, make marketing collaterals or do whatever it takes for you to start working full time on your new venture before quitting your current job.

    You could also consider part-time working opportunities if your current job sucks a lot of your energy. This way you could save your energy and dedicate more time to your side hustle.

    Ensure that you don’t quit until your new venture really demands your full time dedication. You might lose interest in your new venture if you fall short of survival money.

    3. Save enough to pay your bills

    If you need to pursue your passion, you need your monthly bills to be taken care of, without any worries. You must cut down on unnecessary expenses and squeeze in those extra bucks on your savings while you are at your current job. You should forget those weekend parties and social outings unless they’re meant for networking.

    It makes no sense to quit your job without having any savings. Your new venture will not start paying you immediately. Starting a recurring deposit account is a good idea to start off with. Put aside a considerable amount every month as soon as you get your paycheque and forget about that money until you quit your job.

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    4. Write down your goals

    It is important to have visual proof and a daily reminder of why you quit your job and started a new hustle.

    Write down your goals and read them at least once a week. If you are a forgetful person, create cell phone or desktop wallpapers of your goals and set them until you achieve them. Visual proof keeps you on track.

    These goals are the bigger picture of what you wish to achieve in your pursuit to doing what you love.

    For example, if you are wish to design the best dresses in the whole state, write it down. If you wish to fly to Mars, write it down. If you really wish to give up your career for something, it better be worth remembering everyday. Show it to yourself daily.

    5. Make a plan

    Write down a plan of action for the next 12 months. It’s like writing down an elaborate execution plan in your calendar. This could be a daily, weekly or monthly to-do list of your tasks to achieve your goals.

    Learn how to make a plan if that’s not your area of expertise. Ensure that you know what you’re going to do next and not run like a headless chicken after two months of working for yourself.

    Review the plan time and again to track your progress. This will give you a clear picture of your performance and your shortcomings.

    Also, have a backup plan. Even great planners and strategists fail before achieving success. Ensure that you have a second plan if your first one does not work out as you predicted.

    6. Get professional advice

    Talk to experienced people in the field you want to venture out. Go to networking events and connect with people in your industry. Most people will help you out with good advice and good contacts.

    Get professional courses in part time colleges. It could be great to network and the teachers can be of great help to understand more about the industry. They will help you analyse your plan and connect you to influential people.

    7. Prepare yourself to put a resignation

    Prepare yourself mentally to quit your job after you’ve realized the potential and prepared yourself to take a deep dive into your new profession.

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    Leave on a friendly note. Don’t make enemies with your bosses. These connections could help you further in your profession.

    Don’t burn the bridges. It’s better to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss or reporting manager than sending a surprise mail.

    Tell them sincerely about your new venture and why it is important for you. Serve the notice period completely and work till the last day. Complete all your tasks as you would on a regular day. This will maintain your respect and keep your relationships intact.

    8. Be prepared to get your hands dirty

    As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything that’s needed to keep your work going.

    You have to perform all the tasks needed to keep your new venture going. You have to be a janitor, an administrator, an accountant, a designer or a salesperson all at once.

    There would be a point of time where you will have to perform tasks that aren’t your favourite. Be ready to perform such tasks without cringing.

    9. Have no baggage

    Don’t have a debt! Clear all your loans, debts and pending commitments before starting off. You want to fully concentrate on your new activity and not be bent down by loading your shoulders with any burden.

    You would want to enjoy your freedom to work incessantly. No distractions whatsoever are allowed to come close to you when you are fully involved in the rhythm of development. Shun away materialism!

    10. Don’t be in two minds

    It’s good to analyze the best and the worst possibilities in your head, but it’s not at all good to doubt yourself.

    Move ahead with confidence. It’s your life, your plan and your rules. Nothing and nobody can stop you from doing what you wish to do.

    The more you start getting noticed, the more people will point fingers at you. Don’t let them affect you and create doubts in your head. As William Shakespeare said,

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    “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

    11. Learn to handle failure

    You are going to be a loser and it’s a good thing! If you fail and lose, you will learn to not repeat your mistakes and make yourself stronger with every punch you throw out.

    It takes time till you start losing. The key is to not be demotivated by failure. The more the failure, the more closer you are to success.

    12. Try your hands at investing in stock market or cryptocurrency

    It’s a good way to keep your side income rolling in. While you are busy building your dream project, you could invest your money in the stock market or cryptocurrency and let it grow while you sleep.

    As Warren Buffet famously quoted,

    “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

    Find a good stock broker who has enough experience to not lose your money. Stop immediately if you are losing a lot of money. Don’t burn away your money.

    13. Keep a healthy routine

    It’s easy to forget about your health when you are working on something that you’re really passionate about. Set reminders about your health routine.

    Exercise! Most successful people start their day early and take time out to exercise at least thrice a week. It helps you give more energy and time to your work.

    Always remember that you started your new venture to be happier. Bad health will not let you enjoy your success.

    Join yoga classes or learn meditation from youtube. Avoid sitting too long at one place for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, take breaks. take a walk, especially up-down the staircase as much as you can to skip age related joint pains and muscle atrophies.[1]

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    14. Enjoy your days off

    Taking a break helps your creativity and clears your mind from clutter. You need your days off to come back afresh and take on your tasks. You can’t be working 24/7.

    Remember that being able to take your days off is one of the beneficial quirks of an entrepreneurial journey. You can have a routine designed by yourself, for yourself.

    Take your days off when you are too stressed and can’t think straight. Self-discipline might sound simple but practice takes ages. Schedule down time for yourself.

    15. Remember why you quit your job

    Lastly, remember why you quit your job and started doing what you love. There would be bad days that will make you regret your decision, but don’t let them dominate the reason why you took the plunge.

    Your soul wasn’t happy with what you were doing. Your new venture is what you always wanted to do.

    Never forget that.

    If nothing works out, you could still go back to any job you want, but at least, you’d be spared from regrets and constantly arriving “What if?” question in your head.

    So, start now and live without any regrets.

    Execution matters more than thought. Turn your dream into a reality starting today. Start small and grow big.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1]Wikipedia: Muscle atrophy

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