What is Leadership and what is Management?


What is Leadership and what is Management?At Motivated And Competent we often work on management and leadership development programmes with organisations that want to develop their people and improve performance.

So we thought we’d share a few key points that illustrate the similarities and crossover between the two as well as differentiating the two.

Similarities between the two are often overlooked. It’s generally assumed that you’re either a Leader or a Manager.  We argue that a Manager often has to win the hearts as well as the minds of their people. The Manager may need to lead, for example. This applies (particularly in the fast changing business world we now inhabit), for example, when managing change. So, one can switch modes.

It’s worth recognising that a key difference between someone acting as a Manager and Leader is how they motivate the people who work or follow them. This impacts upon much of what they do.

Leadership is focusing on outcomes. Management is task-centred. The former informs the latter.

Leadership is the ability to get things done through others by motivation rather than compulsion. Management is issuing orders and tasks.

Leadership is about being at the front. Managing is often following up the rear and back-checking the quality and volume of people’s work.

Leadership is identifying and setting out what are the right things for your organisation to do. Management is ensuring these things are actually done on the ground, day in, day out.


Leadership relies on having followers

Leaders do not have a team of employees who are their subordinates (at least not when they are acting in Leadership mode). Leaders may have subordinates, but only because they are also Managers.

In Leadership mode one needs to release formal authoritarian control, because to lead is to have followers, and following is consensual; a choice. It relies on the ‘pull’ of positive motivation rather than the fear of pain or sanction acting as a ‘push’ motivation.

Leaders demonstrate personality, vision, charisma and a transformational style

Leadership is not about prestige, power or status. Ordering people what to do does not inspire them to follow you. Leaders have to communicate their vision clearly, then appeal to people, showing how following them will lead to an outcome the team consider worthwhile. People need to follow their leaders sufficiently to alter their own behaviours and maybe take risks that they wouldn’t of their own accord.

Leadership is about responsibility – often for executing a vision, change or transformation of their organisation.

Leaders with charisma can recruit people to their cause. To win hearts and minds they may sell transformational benefits (i.e. people may receive extrinsic rewards and achieve more besides such as be happier, better in your role, achieve respect, etc.).

Leaders motivate people to go the extra mile for them.

Leaders are people-centred

Although many Leaders have a charismatic style it does not require a loud, vocal, or extrovert style. Leaders understand their people. A low-key approach that gives credit to others (and takes blame on themselves) can be extremely effective at creating loyalty.

Effective Leaders have to be good with people. This does not require them to be on friendly terms with everyone. A degree of separation can help enhance the aura and mystique of a good Leader.

Whilst Leaders are people focused they can also pay attention to tasks. Indeed, they watch the outcomes and are often very achievement-focused. Crucially though they understand the importance of inspiring people to work towards their common, shared, vision.

Leaders are comfortable with risks

Leaders recognise that in executing their vision it’s natural to encounter problems that must be overcome. This can stem from the experience of overcoming adversity in earlier life or from their make-up. So they are relatively comfortable with risk and will see options, that others avoid, as potential opportunities for advantage and will be pragmatic in executing their vision.

Leaders may be independent-minded and tend not to worry about what other people think about them.


Managers have subordinates

By definition, Managers have subordinates who they manage using the authority vested in them by their organisation, and maybe the status that comes with age or experience. People do not elect to follow them voluntarily; rather one is put under the charge of a Manager.

Managers enjoy authority and control over their team. Sanctions and appraisals and a person’s future are bound up in ensuring their Manager is happy with their performance.

Managers demonstrate an authoritarian, transactional style

Managers have a position of authority vested in them by the organisation, and their subordinates work for them and generally do as they are told. Management style is transactional: the Manager tells the subordinate what to do, and the subordinate does it as they have been promised a reward (salary, reputation, future prospects, etc.) for doing it.

Managers are task-centred

Managers are paid to get results and get things done (they are subordinates too) often within time and money constraints. What they are measured on, think about and talk about, they pass on to their people.

Managers seek reassurance

Research about Managers tells us that they often have stable and comfortable home backgrounds and lead relatively conventional, comfortable lives. This leads them to be relatively risk-averse and they avoid conflict where possible. They may like their teams to be happy units and think favourably of them. This may lead Managers to seek the approval of being liked by their subordinates.

In summary:

Leaders: Managers:
Create and promote a vision Have objectives and goals
Plan direction Follow existing direction
Act as agents of change Act as agents of stability
Create willing followers Are given subordinates
Have longer term focus Have short / medium term focus
Decides what should be done Decides how to do it
Are big picture focused Manage the detail
Deal in transformation Deal in transactions
Are proactive Are reactive
Are comfortable with risk Minimise risk
Accept blame Blame /chastise subordinates
Sell people their vision Tell people what to do
Are people-focused Are task-focused


So, if you are ready to work with Motivated And Competent to develop your Leaders, Managers and the performance of your organisation here’s how we can start the conversation:

-> Email us

-> Call us on 07767 302899 or 01227 763670

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