Despite being similar and often confused, leadership and management are not the same thing. They often have overlapping qualities that can make them seem like one in the same. But understanding the difference between leadership and management is key for your career.
While it’s an oversimplification, this is genuinely the difference between the two. Let’s explore it further.
A leader is someone that has a vision for a company, for the values of the business and the company culture. Being in a leadership position means needing to have the charisma and passion that makes others want to follow you.
Because if you have someone in a leadership position who says things that people don’t like, or who they don’t like, then they’re not really a leader. People will just be following them due to hierarchy, not because of leadership qualities or believing in the person and their vision.
Meanwhile a manager’s job is to manage: Whether that’s people, tasks, projects, or teams. And while a manager may lead, they will similarly be led by the example and the direction given by the leader.
So while a leader sets the direction, a manager is someone who helps in the execution of their vision.
A company culture doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s a decision made by the leaders within the business. Any major decisions involving the direction of the company, business strategy, and hiring for new employees happens with the company culture as a huge contributing factor.
“The company culture is the DNA of the business. When we founded Dynamic, we tried and tested culture in so many different ways. But trial and error got us closer and closer to where we are now.”Adam Law, Director of Dynamic Search Solutions
But while a leader can decide on the company culture, the responsibility of supporting it falls to the managers. As the managers lead the employees in their actions and tasks, it’s up to them to drive employees to live by the company culture and core values.
Because while a leader can establish the company culture and hire people who will support it, managers by nature work much closer with employees and have a greater day-to-day involvement with them and their attitudes to work.
One of the biggest differences, and one that is somewhat out of your control, is what people expect from you.
As a leader in the business, it’s less your job to check up on team members. But you may find that people come to you with issues instead. Sometimes even with problems outside of your responsibilities. Because as a leader, you’re someone that people will turn to when they’re in trouble.
But as a manager you may have to be more proactive in finding out problems.
It’s the responsibility of management to delegate tasks. But this also means checking up on the team, to make sure that the job is being done right. This can mean before the actual due date of said task: To prevent you reaching when the project is due, and falling behind because revisions need to be made.
While leaders inspire teams into being passionate about the work they do, and being passionate about the business, the manager’s job is to ensure that they understand their work and have a positive work environment.
Managers who are more engaged, passionate, and care about their work, lead to a much greater degree of engagement from employees. And the same is true for leaders within a business. Studies from Gallup show the cascading effect that having dedicated and engaged leaders has on the managers, and how much of an effect that this in turn, has on employees.
Leaders who communicate regularly with their team, help build the teams and make them passionate about their work. But then it becomes the manager, who works closely with the people in their team, to check in, and make sure that they remain engaged with their work and offer support where it is needed.
As a manager, a part of your responsibility is keeping your team not just engaged with their work, but with their job in general. According to another study from Gallup, 75% of the reasons people leave can be directly influenced by managers.
Leaders can inspire teams. And when you’re in a leadership position you may be in charge of growth quotas or establishing hiring budgets. Leaders are often heavily involved in the hiring process as well, and they will ultimately have greater weight in hiring decisions.
But as a manager, it’s your job to keep people that leadership has brought onto the team. Management means making sure that people have everything they need to be successful in their job, and are happy in their position.
But a problem that managers face is that employees don’t always come to you with the problems they have: with their work or job. Management of a team doesn’t just come down to getting the work or projects done, it also involves employees satisfaction and retention.
A key difference between leadership and management, is tense. Leadership is working towards the long-term future of the business, leading the company to a vision. Meanwhile, management is being responsible and in charge of the present as it unfolds.
A leader will be focused on the future of the business: Every decision they make is geared toward the end-goal of the business, whether that’s growing the headcount of the business or increasing annual revenue.
Meanwhile a manager must be much more focused on the now. Because a manager’s job is making sure that tasks and deadlines are met, that employees are happy in their jobs, and that the business runs smoothly.
A lot of management skills overlap with leadership skills, which isn’t surprising, given how closely the two roles align. But there are a few key differences we want to discuss:
Unsurprisingly, management skills are much more focused on making sure that work is done by supporting or managing. Whereas leadership skills are more varied, focused on inspiring the team with their work, and focused on the future.
Here at Herd, it’s essential we understand the difference, as we support our clients in finding the leader or manager that’s right for their business. If you’re a digital agency leader looking for a leader or manager for your business, click here to get in touch and hire today.
We're here to help. Check out our FAQs, send us an email or call us on 0208 629 6006.