What is the Difference Between Leadership and Management?

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Health Assured team

07 August 2020

For any company to be successful, it needs to have a good person at the head of it. Whether that be through an inspiring CEO, effective team managers or just powerful personalities within the team. They need leaders.

But is management and leadership the same thing? Most people will assign leadership to a managerial role, but it’s not as simple as that. There are differences and similarities between leadership and management that make different people more suited to one or the other.

Not that one is not better than the other. Both are essential for an organisation to have productive and happy employees. The two should work hand in hand, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s look at what separates leaders and managers and see exactly why strong leadership is powerful for employee wellbeing and productivity. 

What is Leadership and Management?

While the manager is commonly a job title to show a certain position, a leader may not have this distinction. A leader in the workplace can be anyone.

They’re followed and listened to because of their personality, behaviour and beliefs. One key way to differentiate the two is that managers have ‘subordinates’ and leaders have ‘followers.’ 

A lot of managers are also leaders, though only if they carry out functions that use leadership skills. Managing people is a different skill set to leading people. 

Not all managers are leaders, however, and employees will follow orders from them because of obligation rather than inspiration. In certain environments, it’s acceptable for management responsibilities and effective leadership to be separated.


Watch our podcast episode "Life & Leadership Coaching" with Yvonne Rosney

What Qualities Are Essential for Leadership?

The ability to lead a team requires certain characteristics. While it is possible for a manager and leader to have overlapping traits, it is not essential. Here are some key traits:

  •       Vision and big picture thinking
  •       Honesty and integrity
  •       Inspirational
  •       Strong communication skills
  •       Ability to challenge

Vision is one of the defining differences between managers and leaders. A leader will create the vision and inspire others to follow the vision. They’ll often have a manager who helps make this a reality with their skill set, or they’ll do both themselves.

To be able to inspire people and truly motivate them, they will need to have honesty and integrity.  Mutual respect is essential to be able to have those belief in them and embark on a journey with them.

These two traits combined help them become inspirational. Leaders look to help others understand their roles in a bigger context or their vision.

To do this, they need strong communication skills. Being able to articulate the vision and the follower’s role in it is a vital part of the role. They need to keep everyone informed on the vision and any obstacles.

Having the ability to challenge the status quo or traditional ways of thinking is a true hallmark of an exceptional leader. To be innovative and have a unique vision, they need to challenge things and be daring with their problem-solving.

How Does Good Leadership Affect Your Employees?

Having a strong leader in your team, whether this is in a position of authority or just a well-respected colleague, can have a massive boost on your employee engagement and wellbeing.

They have a tendency to praise success and drive people, whereas managers work to find faults. Leaders paint a picture of what they see as possible for the company and work to inspire and engage their people in turning that vision into reality.

Some key benefits a leader can bring to employees are:

  •       Guidance and mentoring: These figures naturally want to help guide people and make sure they are fulfilling their roles. This will help the employee feel like they are making a difference at their job.
  •       Increased Trust: With a leader being an open communicator and giving full disclosure to business goals, this makes employees feel trusted. This makes an employee feel valued and more secure.
  •       Employee satisfaction: Recognition also plays an important role in satisfaction. When employees receive praise for their work and performance, they’re more likely to continue repeating that same behaviour.
  •       Reduced Stress and Anxiety: As a leader will lead by example, it helps employees to feel less anxious and stressed. They have an example to follow and look to in times of stress.
  •       Building team morale: They impact morale by helping to instil a sense of confidence and trust in their peers. This means they will take a positive approach to their job and affect their view of the company as a whole.
  •       Fostering a creative atmosphere: As a leader encourages employees rather than instructs, it can allow employees to be creative and innovative in their role. This makes employees feel empowered by the processes they shape.
  •       Promoting company values: With honesty, integrity and great communication, a leader promotes these values in their employees. Employees will take ownership of their role, making them more engaged and accountable.

Leadership Versus Management: In Summary

Managers and leaders are both important—and when you find both qualities in the same person, it is the perfect combination for someone in senior positions to have.

To keep people at the company both motivated and productive, a workplace will need effective management and leadership. However, if you are looking at improving your employee’s wellbeing, an effective leader is the best way to do this.

All good managers are also leaders, though not all talented leaders make effective managers. It is worth looking at the skills of employees and putting them on courses to help develop leaders in the workplace.

With all this in place, you’re ready to start increasing your employee engagement. If you have questions about this or any of the topics covered in our blog, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0844 891 0352.

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