Monday, July 11, 2011

Leadership and Management Differences/Similarities

What are the differences and similarities between leadership and management? Is there a difference? Can you be a great manager and at the same time, be a great leader? Or are leaders and managers mutually exclusive? Below are some great quotes on those differences/similarities between both leadership and management:

'Leaders are people who do the right thing; managers are people who do things right' - Warren Bennis.

'Management is getting people to do what needs to be done. Leadership is getting people to want to do what needs to be done. Managers push. Leaders pull. Managers command. Leaders communicate.' - Warren Bennis.

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A great quote that shows the differences between managers and leaders: 'Leaders conquer the context - the volatile, turbulent, ambigous surroundings that sometimes seem to conspire against us and will surely suffocate us if we let them- while managers surrender to it. The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon. The manager imitates; the leader originates. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his own person. Managers do things right; leaders do the right thing.' - Carter-Scott, C. (1994). "The Differences Between Management and Leadership."

Top Story: Best Management Practices - Cutting the fat in business.

'Leaders and leader/managers distinguish themselves from the general run of managers in at least six respects:

(1) They think longer term...

(2) In thinking about the unit they are heading they grasp its relationships to larger realities...

(3) They reach and influence constituents beyond their jurisdictions, beyond boundaries...

(4) They put heavy emphasis on the intangibles of vision, values, and motivation and understand intuitively the nonrational and unconscious elements in leader-constituent interaction.

(5) They have the political skill to cope with the conflicting requirements of multiple constituencies.

(6) They think in terms of renewal...' - John W. Gardner (1990). On Leadership.

The definition of leadership vs the definition of management - once again shows the differences between the two - '...[T]he word lead, at its root, means "go, travel, guide." Leadership has about it a kinesthetic feel, a sense of movement... [Leaders] begin the quest for a new order. They venture into unexplored territory and guide us to new and unfamiliar destinations. In contrast, the root origin of manage is a word meaning "hand." At its core, managing is about "handling" things, about maintaining order, about organization and control. The critical difference between management and leadership is reflected in the root meanings of the two words- the difference between what it means to handle things and what it means to go places.' - James Kouzes and Barry Posner.

'Management is the exercise of authority and influence to achieve levels of performance consistent with previously demonstrated levels...Leadership is making happen what wouldn't happen anyway...[and will] always tail working at the edge of the what is acceptable.' - Richard Pascale.

The above Leadership and Management differences/similarities are highlighted in Stephen Covey's, The 8th Habit, pages 360-364. See a post on Stephen Covey's 4 Human Capacities here.

A thought: The Bible says that if you have the gift of spiritual leadership, then govern diligently. We are called not to just manage the future, but to tranform it. We must not settle for merely managing human rights abuses, or managing the decline of organised religion or the local church. We are not asked to simply manage businesses so they can spew out the same results week in, week out and not acieve greatness. We must lead, and transform our spheres of influence and by the grace of God, we will witness change and transformation that honours the God who created us. (See 10 reasons why people don't go to church). 
If you have an inkling to lead - then LEAD, and don't just MANAGE! God is not after people who simply manage what is, but lead what can be. While we must be good stewards (managers) of what what we have been given, leadership allows us to soar above mediocrity and reach new heights, and affect change that was not even considered with a management mindset.

For more discussion why not join the Facebook page "Disciples in Training" ?

There are many differences between leaders and managers. Management at times is said to be a subset of leadership. Others argue that leadership is a subset of management! Regardless of the debate, the functions of both leadership and management ARE different. Leaders are visionaries, and managers work to 'manage' the strategy behind the vision.

CEO Online has a helpful table of differences between leaders and managers. Check that out

Check out Stephen Covey on Leadership and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 


  1. These quotes have significantly impacted my leadership style. John Maxwell writes and speaks in ways that ring true beyond hearing.

    1. Well said anonymous. Keep going strong on your own leadership journey.


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