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Leadership versus Management, Which is Better?

Published: Sep 01, 2016
Leadership versus Management, Which is Better?

Management and leadership skills are often regarded as one and the same to many organisations. But are these just different words that really mean the same thing? Some organisations seem to use the term leader as a more fashionable term for a manager. But there is a difference between the two roles, This is not to say that there are not similarities between managers and leaders; rather, the essence of this article is to show that both leadership and management behaviours are needed for a team to move to high performance.

Managers are responsible for planning, organising, directing and controlling. They are the four basic things managers in organisations must do. Literature has shown that leaders basically inspire, influence and motivate employees to engage in activities that will lead to the achievement of organisational goals. Leaders don't make use of rules, they make use of their ability to ensure compliance. Followers always follow willingly.

Area of Difference:

Personality Style:

Managers are usually said to be rational, they have controlling ability. The major focus of a manager is on achieving  the goals of the organisation. Most Managers are risk averse, they are afraid of the unknown. Leaders are brilliant and visionary. They dream dreams, work the dreams and achieve the dreams. They have great charisma. Leaders are loners. One of the greatest responsibility of a leader is risk taking.

Leaders are people of high integrity. They are honest and dependable as a result they share their vision. On the other hand managers are persistent in managing people and consistent in their action.


Managers manage people at work, leaders lead people to work. It is because of this managers are said to be doing things right and leaders on the other hand are doing the right things.

To put it another way, managers concentrate on tasks, rules and compliance (that is, doing things right) while leaders concentrate on people, principles and purpose (that is, doing the right thing).

Roles in Decision Making:

In most cases, managers are fully involved and participate when decisions are being made. Managers play a significant role in decision making. Leaders only facilitate decisions. They make contributions which guide everyone.

Use of Power:

Managers get their authority and power from being appointed to a position by more senior managers. The manager uses formal authority which is gotten from the position occupied. The power used by a leader is derived from charisma and the power of influence. The power is in built. Mangers appeal to the head while leaders work on the mind.

Management and managers are human inventions that were designed with a single purpose in mind, to enforce controls and protocols. The role of a manager was to make sure that employees showed up on time, did their jobs, didn’t cause any problems, and showed up the next day to repeat the process. There was no emphasis on creativity, innovation, engagement, empowerment, or the like; nor was there a need for any of these things. However today we live and work in a very different world where all of these things are essential. The combination of manager and leader is rare and valuable, and far more useful than either one alone. So let’s stop debating about which one is better, cooler, or more needed – let’s do both.