Leadership vs. Management: Is there a difference?

It seems that everyone is looking for their moment to shine. Companies are looking to develop leaders and have effective managers in place. In today's day and age, is there a difference in leading and managing?

I would argue that there is a vast difference. Anyone can be taught to manage tasks, keep people motivated, focus attention on necessary items and work within a system. Managers often channel their energy on getting tasks completed and managing the here and now. They help to enforce organizational rules and move people in the right direction, according to those rules. Managers provide instruction and expect that the path they provide is followed.


Leaders offer much, much more. Their role hinges more on working on the system to produce a better working environment for everyone involved. This will help to foster change, promote growth and accelerate performance. What more could an organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, ask for? For leaders, it's all about creating opportunities for those around them to succeed.

Empowerment is a very strong tool, and when used effectively, can help instill organizational belonging. When leaders can help to promote ownership and belonging within their employees, great things are sure to come. Energy, emotion and attachment will keep workers working smarter, keep production at peak levels and reduce conflict.

I spoke recently to a strong leader, who serves as the Plant Safety Manager for an international candy manufacturer. He explained how bad things were at this plant when he first started: massive amounts of lost time due to injury on the job, apathy towards the safety protocols, unwillingness to compromise on the development of new safety measures and other alarming feelings coming from the plant employees. It would have been easy for him to shove safety down their throats, but instead, he opted to find a way to give ownership to the employees. Let them offer input, discuss change, develop simple solutions and increase ways to envelop safety into day-to-day operations. He gave them all the tools they needed to make this happen, stood back, and watched as things magically transformed into perfection. The employees now take great pride in their safety program, safety record and self-designed protocols.

It's easy to say, "I want to be a leader". Leadership requires a special set of skills, but more importantly, requires a vision. How can you achieve a desired outcome if you don't know where you're going? The great leaders are remembered for being those that can lead by example, by in to what they're asking others to do and motivate a crowd to follow them.

In closing, a bit of advice on leadership from one of the greatest leaders of our generation, Colin Powell:
"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand. The result? Clarity of purpose, credibility of leadership, and integrity of organization."

Equip those around you to succeed. Find ways to give them the tools they need and stand back; you'll be amazed at how much gets done. People are inherently good and will find a way, when properly motivated, to do well. More questions? Contact Full Media today!