Difference Between Leadership and Management: Two Sides of the Same Coin

The terms "management" and "leadership" are commonly used without considering their context.

Due to the blurry distinction between the two, it is simple. The distinction between management and leadership is generally meaningless; it's a fact. Both management and leadership include controlling others. 

Project managers carry out both. Even so, there are specific circumstances in which it is crucial to understand the contrasts and similarities between the two - notably for students studying the disciplines.

Leadership ensures the ladder is leaning against the right wall while management helps to climb it effectively.

There are differences between management and leadership. Although each role has unique qualities and functional responsibilities, these tasks are nonetheless connected and complementary ways to coordinate, manage, and advance organizational operations. 

Managers often carry out what leaders typically plan. This does not imply, however, that managers are ineffective leaders. Managers frequently function as leaders, coordinators, and controllers of complicated transactions.

What distinguishes management from leadership most significantly? Though many of you would believe that these two terms have the same meaning, this is untrue. 

Furthermore, leaders and managers might have different abilities and traits, which we will discuss in detail in this article.

How Leadership and Management are different?

Many people believe that management and leadership have similar roles. Although it may be the case, using these two terms interchangeably is inappropriate because they have different meanings. Both connote a particular collection of attributes, traits, and similar abilities.

In some situations, however, they differ from one another. For instance, some managers don't practice leadership, whereas others do so even when they don't have a managerial position.

Generally, a manager is someone who is chosen or appointed within a company. A manager is typically chosen based on specific technical abilities, experience, and expertise. On the other hand, inspiring and influencing others is an essential leadership trait.

It's crucial to have excellent managers and leaders at work. An organization requires strong leaders if it is to achieve its objectives. Additionally, they require effective managers to ensure that tasks are completed and that their teams' goals are met.

Although they are considered two sides of the same coin, the key differences between Leadership and Management are:

Leaders Set the Vision, and Managers Follow It

  • Managers and leaders have various roles in creating and carrying out a company's goal and vision.
  • Visionaries are leaders. Most of them share a clear vision of where their organizations will be in the future. They are not the sole ones in charge of putting that vision into action.
  • Managers are key players in this situation. Managers are in charge of ensuring that staff members are in line with the fundamental corporate values and goals. At the same time, leaders may be responsible for effectively communicating the firm's purpose, vision, and plans to the entire organization. However, 71% of workers feel that their leaders do not spend enough time explaining their objectives and strategies.

Leaders Think Ideas; Managers Focus on Execution

  • While an organizational or a managerial culture emphasizes reason and control, leaders are more concerned with finding ways to enhance the organization. They accomplish this through generating fresh concepts and promoting the change to a future-focused attitude. In other words, managers constantly seek "how and when" solutions, whereas leaders seek "what and why" answers.
  • As a result, managers' primary duty is to follow the leader's vision. Their primary duty is to ensure that those carrying out various tasks with diverse responsibilities do it efficiently, effectively, and assertively.

Leaders Inspire People; Managers Drive Their Success

  • While leaders have a remarkable capacity for motivating others, managers are in charge of ensuring that employees have successful careers and rewarding workplaces.
  • However, managers are limited in what they can do to support their staff's success if they cannot inspire them. Leaders may empower their workforce, capture the attention of their followers, and motivate them to pursue significant organizational projects by establishing their unique leadership style through self-reflection, real communication, and ongoing feedback.

Leaders Look in the Future, Managers Work In the Present

  • The major distinction between managers and leaders is that the former are more present-oriented, while the latter is more future-focused.
  • The manager's primary responsibility is to execute processes and procedures related to staffing, organizational structure, and budgets to achieve organizational goals. On the other hand, leaders tend to look ahead and seize potential chances.
  • However, if the future vision of the leadership cannot be transparently articulated to both managers and people, it is meaningless.

Leaders Shape the Culture, Managers Endorse It

  • The company's corporate culture should be considered when contrasting managers and leaders.
  • Culture is a set of values, attitudes, and behaviors that influence how an organization functions and works. Employees and other stakeholders act and behave in ways that facilitate achieving company goals when organizational culture is in line with the broader business strategy.
  • The distinction between management and leadership in terms of organizational culture is that the former defines and shapes the latter. In addition, managers model such a culture for their staff members.
  • The leader is responsible for supporting the organization's fundamental corporate values and cultural norms through their decisions, truthful communication, and actions. Passionate and motivating executives can greatly affect how the organizational culture is communicated throughout the business and how people behave.
  • While the manager's responsibility is to consistently promote and endorse the culture within their teams, their abilities and leadership styles significantly impact how employees take and live that culture.

Leadership Versus Management

The fundamental distinctions between leadership and management in terms of several procedures are shown in the table below:





Plans and budgets

Develop processes and set timelines

Establish the strategic direction and refine the vision

Human Development

Delegate responsibility

Implement the vision

Display low emotion

Limit employee choices

Align the organization to vision

Communicate the vision, mission, and strategic direction

Display drove, high emotion

Increase choices


Control processes

Identity problems, and solutions

Monitor results

Take a low-risk approach to problem-solving

Motivate and inspire

Aim to satisfy basic human needs

Use a high-risk strategy while tackling problems.


Give the leadership and other stakeholders the anticipated results.

Encourage significant and practical reforms

Better Manager or a Better Leader?

Would you make a better manager or leader if given the option? Similarly, a good manager may not always make a good leader, and a good leader may not always make good managers. Why do most corporate organizations seek candidates who possess both qualities?

When a company invests in a worker, they try to assist that person in fully integrating into the system. Employees will demonstrate whether they are good managers or leaders within the context of this system. 

The leaders' main priorities will be fostering a positive work environment and coordinating operations with strategic objectives. The managers will work more closely with employees, emphasizing increasing productivity. 

In a word, leadership relates to how much of a task is finished, whereas management refers to how quickly the activity is completed.

Areas where Leadership and Management Collide with each other

Even though these roles may vary, everyone knows how management and leadership activities and responsibilities overlap throughout the company. The three essential elements are

  • Communication: For a company to succeed, communication at all levels, including management and leadership, is essential. As was already noted, employees expect to be kept up to date on the status and direction of their organization. While management communication should also motivate employees, ongoing, transparent communication encourages team members to perform at their highest level.
  • Problem-solving and Decision Making: Both managers and leaders are accountable for making wise decisions and solving problems. While decision-making at the corporate level may fall under the purview of leaders, managers are in charge of decisions made at the team or departmental levels.
  • Crisis Management and Change: Leaders and managers should collaborate when managing change or crises, just as they should when making decisions. The state of the world today has taught us the value of agile workplace transformation and the necessity of changing swiftly. While managers are more aware of how to help their people embrace and align with the change, leaders may better understand the change that needs to be done.
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