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General Leadership

Why Leadership Is Different to Management — These 5 Critical Ways

Any time a company thrives, you would find that there are both strong managers and inspiring leaders within the company. However, it’s common for the terms “leader” and “manager” to be used interchangeably, but they signify very distinct roles within a company.

Both roles are essential for a company’s success, but they have different functions, results, and influence. Here are five key differences that highlight how leadership diverges from management.

1. Leaders Set the Vision, Managers Implement It

Leaders are visionaries—they perceive the big picture. They devise a clear-cut, all-encompassing vision of where they want their organization to be down the line. Leaders then entrust managers with the critical task of realizing the vision.

How do managers do this? They act as a conduit, channeling the leader’s vision to the entire workforce making certain everyone is aligned with the company’s objectives. On the flip side, numerous employees believe their leaders don’t invest ample time in communicating goals and visions.

2. Leaders Ideate, Managers Execute

Leaders are innately inventive—their minds always brimming with ideas on how to improve what can be done and the understanding of why it must be achieved. They drive an innovative outlook, steering the company towards forward-thinking.

Managers, by comparison, are always on the hunt for means to answer how and when to realize the leader’s vision. They are the enforcers, guaranteeing tasks are met efficiently and productively while ensuring everyone feels valued and heard within the organization.

3. Leaders Inspire, Managers Drive

Leaders harness the power of inspiration. Their actions and words can motivate employees to achieve beyond their normal prerogatives. However, this isn’t possible if the managers don’t play their part in driving the employees’ success.

Managers are responsible for maintaining high levels of productivity and positive work experience within their team. They can only do this effectively when their teams are moved and inspired by their leaders.

4. Leaders Look To The Future, Managers Focus On The Present

Leaders are future-oriented—they constantly look ahead, focusing on long-term goals and capitalizing on forthcoming opportunities. Managers, however, operate within the more immediate spectrum. They focus on achieving short-term goals by managing present-day activities such as budgeting, structuring, and staffing.

5. Leaders Shape The Culture, Managers Maintain It

Leaders play a massive role in defining and molding an organization’s culture. They are the flag bearers of the company’s core values and beliefs and communicate this culture across the entire organization, influencing employees’ behaviors.

On the other hand, managers continuously support and uphold this culture within their teams. They ensure employees internalize the company culture, facilitating an environment that promotes core company values.

It’s clear that leadership and management are unique albeit overlapping roles, and each has its indispensability. Beside their unique roles, their responsibilities converge in numerous areas, notably in communication, problem-solving, decision-making, and crisis management. The message to take away is, while managers get things done, leaders explain why these things need to be done and how they contribute to the bigger picture.

Max Johnson

Max Johnson is currently a Vice President at a Fortunate 100 company. He has also held multiple leadership positions at two startups previously. When he is not busy working, you can find him surfing at the beach or skiing in the mountains.

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