Management versus Leadership


What is the difference between management and leadership?  

Managers are not necessarily leaders.  Providing leadership is quite different from managing.  A person who has a management role in an organisation does not magically become a leader by giving him/her a new title.  Management is what you know and do through people. Leadership is who you are and what you do, based on skill and influence.  It’s rare that a manager (given their managerial mindset) ever becomes a leader.  In the same way, calling a hamburger a steak doesn’t make it a steak.  Let us now examine the differences in detail.


  • Are appointed
  • Hire subordinates
  • Think of themselves as responsible for outcomes
  • Require people to do things right
  • Devise schemes and deploy technologies to compensate for incompetence
  • Are performance makers
  • Use people to make an “acceptable” bottom line
  • Succeed for reasons that have nothing to do with the manager’s capabilities
  • Can often explain away their shortfalls by attributing them to someone or something else
  • Tell you who was responsible
  • Organise for what is likely or what is possible
  • Chase the possible
  • Prefer the comfort and security of working with conventions- eg the numbers.
  • Are measured by numbers

 In contrast, Leaders:

  • Have to earn a leadership role through being endorsed by their followers
  • Earn their followers
  • Are responsible for people who make outcomes happen
  • Lead people to do the right things
  • Teach people how to fish
  • Are profit makers and business creators
  • Develop people for sustainable performance
  • Succeed on the basis of outcomes
  • Fail themselves because it was their aim, their purpose in life that was at stake
  • Hold themselves accountable
  • Organise for what is unlikely or impossible
  • Challenge themselves against the impossible – a vision beyond the possible
  • Understand fiscal health but do not permit numbers to define them or define what’s possible
  • Take the measure of numbers

A managerial mindset takes you down a path that is contrary to the path of leadership because managers do not think like leaders, make decisions like leaders or take actions as leaders do.  If you want to lead a high performance organisation you have to think like leaders think and to grasp the world the way leaders do and thus perform as leaders perform.

In conclusion, it is the leadership mindset that takes us forward.  A managerial mindset can be a serious obstacle to the kind of thinking required to pursue a great achievement.  Why?  Because mindsets are bundles of habits which take us in the direction of conventional thinking and not the unconventional thinking required to achieve outstanding results.  Only a leadership mindset focussed on changing and challenging the status quo will do that. Where does this place many of our organisations today?