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The Difference Between Management and Leadership

        posted by , December 30, 2012

Management and leadership are the two most important words in the vocabulary of business.

They both have a variety of styles, strategies and techniques that endlessly overlap. It can be difficult to tell where management ends and leadership begins.

Key differences include:

1. Leaders set direction, managers implement

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
~ Peter Drucker
Leadership is about developing a strategy and then influencing and motivating people to execute that strategy.

Management is about translating a strategy into action. Planning and organizing a team and a budget to achieve business goals.


2. Leaders Answer Why, Managers Answer How

Leaders focus on directional questions such as what and why. Managers focus on implementation questions such as who, when, where and how.


3. Leadership is Focused on Strategy, Management is More Tactical

There's a big difference between strategy and tactics. A strategy is master plan for an organization, department or program. Tactics are quick wins that take advantage of opportunities as they appear.

Strategy is largely a leadership activity. Tactics happen close to the action — it's more of a management activity.


4. Leadership Relies on Influence, Management Relies on Authority

An effective leader can walk into a situation in which they have no authority and still influence and motivate people to follow a direction.

Management relies on well defined authority. For example, a manager may have authority to evaluate and discipline employees who report to her.


5. Leadership is General, Management is Specific

Leaders define direction. They tend to focus on the big-picture.

Managers ensure that teams follow direction. They focus on implementation details.


6. Leadership is Creative, Management is Productive

Leadership is primarily a creative activity — leaders seek innovation.

Management is primarily a productive activity — managers seek results.


7. Leadership vs Management Verbs

The best verbs to describe leadership are innovate, influence and motivate.

The best verbs to describe management are plan, organize, coordinate, direct and control.


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The relatively new economic concept behind the strategy of innovative companies such as Google.

Simple and applicable business definitions.

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