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Understanding the Differences: 11 Ways Leadership and Management Are Different

“Leadership is doing the right things; management is doing things right.” – Peter Drucker

Although leadership and management are intermingled terminologies, they are fundamentally different from each other. In general, management is an established set of processes and systems designed to achieve the desired results for an organization through several key activities such as budgeting, organizing, staffing, problem-solving, and more. Leadership, on the other hand, defines the mission and the vision of an organization, while designing its path that leads to the road of success.

The fundamental differences between leadership and management apply to every organization and it is important to understand the difference between the two to ensure the smooth running and growth of a business.

Here are eleven ways in which leadership and management are different from each other.

1. Leadership Derives Path, Management Administers It

The responsibility of the leadership is to set a direction and inspire its people. It is important to ensure that people within the organization follow the path designed by the leadership. This is where the role of management comes in.

It is the management’s job to break the mission into milestones and ensure that the team achieves these milestones under effective supervision.

2. Leadership Persuades, Management Communicates

Leadership persuades people to understand their vision and motivates them to turn it into reality. Their job is to think beyond what individuals do and inspire people to push their boundaries by thinking bigger.

Management focusses on authoritatively communicating the vision as goals and measuring them. Management engages in controlling the circumstances to help employees exceed at their assigned goals.

3. Leadership Is Free-Spirited, Management Abides by Set Rules

Leadership is free to create their own unique path to success. Management has to abide by set rules and ensure the entire team walks on that path undeterred.

While a leader envisions what a business should eventually achieve, a manager must drive his team within set boundaries to accomplish that which has been expressed by the leadership.

4. Leadership Needs Articulation, Management Demands Interpretation

Any vision, however great, must be clearly articulated to the management to ensure they interpret it accurately. Unclear articulation or misinterpretation may lead to unfruitful efforts by the entire organization.

A good leader must be able to describe the vision and the success path in vivid details so that the management is able to interpret it correctly. Similarly, a manager is expected to aptly construe the leader’s vision and communicate it to his team effectively.

5. Leadership Sets Direction, Management Plans Details

Every organization needs a compelling vision to look up to as the bigger goal. Good leadership takes into account possible future changes and sets a course for the organization to move ahead.

It is the job of the management to plan the details and set the wheels into motion towards the achievement of the goal.

6. Leadership Takes Risks, Management Minimises Them

Leadership needs to constantly discover new possibilities. In order to do this, they take risks. Although in most cases these risks are calculated, the chances of failure are always present.

The management needs to ensure the risk of failure is minimized. This can be done by diligently working along with the leadership, and foreseeing and controlling problems that may arise.

7. Leadership Builds Relationships, Management Builds System and Processes

Leadership is people-oriented. They focus on building loyalty and trust among people such as employees and stakeholders by ensuring they deliver on the promises made.

Management is process- and- system-oriented. They focus on creating and managing the necessary structure required to achieve the goals set by the leadership. The look into the analytics and work with various individuals to attain the desired goals and objectives.

8. Leadership Seeks Opportunities, Management Evaluates Them

Leadership unfolds new opportunities and constantly seeks new ideas for success. They enjoy the liberty of being creative. They can imagine and create new openings and prospects.

However, it is the job of the management to evaluate the practicality of these prospects. They are required to derive measures for achieving the goal, put them into practice and turn the plans of the leadership into reality.

9. Leadership Understands the External Environment, Management Comprehends Internal Functioning

It is important for an influential leadership to understand the external environment in which the establishment operates. It helps them anticipate the market, discover new business opportunities, and avoid troublesome circumstances for the business.

Management has to understand the extent of resources available within the organization and how to use them to their best ability. They’re responsible for getting the work done from internal resources.

10. Leadership’s Accountability Is to the Company, Management’s Accountability Is to the Team

It is the job of the leadership to understand the impact of their decision on the entire organization. They must ensure every step is taken wisely. Even a small miscalculated move directly impacts the entire organization.

Managers in an organization are responsible for their teams’ performance. They must ensure that they prepare their teams adequately to deliver the desired results.

11. Leadership Aims for the Long Haul, Management Look for Immediate Results

Leadership often looks at the long-term, distant goals for the organization. Their path of motivation does not include the rewards of achieving small milestones, but the success of their mission and long-term goals.

Management breaks these long-term goals into small milestones, and aims at achieving them within a stipulated time frame. Management gets motivated by constant accolades and acknowledgement.


The secret of success for any organization is the apt combination of visionary leadership and great management. Both, leadership and management roles are different in nature, but are highly interdependent. A perfect harmony between the two is essential to help an enterprise travel the road of success.

About author:

Bian Zeng

Brian Zeng is the owner of He is an entrepreneur by spirit. Through Ponbee, Brian would like to share his insights on an array of topics related to business, e-commerce, digital marketing and entrepreneurship. His recent collection of life quotes by great personalities will touch your heart and will surely give you some motivation.

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