Leadership v management

Leadership v management

Leadership versus management is a topic that is often discussed and debated on our leadership and management development courses. Which is the best? Are they the same? Does it really matter what you call it, so long as you are doing the right thing the right way?

To raise and address these questions we often run a discussion on ‘your best boss versus your worst boss’. We ask people to leave out the names to protect the innocent (or otherwise) but focus on the behaviours that their best managers demonstrated to get the most out of them. We then challenge each participant to decide how they’d like to be remembered by their teams - 'best boss' always wins.

We then facilitate a discussion about which are leadership and which are management behaviours. Here is a summary of what people often suggest:

Leading: Managing:
InspiringManaging processes
Vision & strategic thinkingFocusing on policies & procedures
Creating valueAssessing value
InfluencingHaving power & control
Having followersHaving subordinates
Leading peopleManaging work
People focusedWork focused
Charismatic styleAuthoritarian style
Taking risks & seeking changeRisk averse & maintaining stability
Appealing to the heartAppealing to the head
Being proactiveBeing reactive
Setting directionPlanning details
Raising expectationsMaintaining the status quo
Asking questionsGiving directions

Without doubt the outcome is that a blend of both leadership and management behaviours are required. This is needed to engage and motivate employees to enable them to deliver what they need to achieve. A good leader will also need management behaviours to make sure they do deliver. To accomplish a goal it is necessary to set, explain and drive your vision. Leadership often requires being a figurehead, motivating and inspiring others yet mobilising resources (human and otherwise). Manager behaviours check progress and quantify results.

So having established what a leader should be doing, who should actually do the leading? We know that although leadership behaviours can come from within they can also be learnt.  Leader is not always a job title, yet very often those with manager in their title will be required to demonstrate the leadership behaviours that their team is looking for. Leadership can be situational and can pass from person to person depending on task. There are times to lead and there are times to manage. Yet the managers of tomorrow need to practice and develop their leadership skills today. I believe that to be a good leader you don’t have to be a manager, but to be a good manager you need to be a leader.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory

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