The difference between leadership and management

There is a general feeling that when someone is promoted to a management position that they are a naturally a leader. Or if someone is a good manager they must also be a good leader. Some people even equate the two believing that a manager is a leader and a leader is a manager. In our view the two are very different.

A manager must control processes, costs and coordinates team effort. A manager strives to meet departmental goals of performance, communication of critical information, prioritize goals.  Managers tend to work in the system, reacting, controlling risks, enforcing organizational rules; they seek and then follow direction, avert threats, control people by pushing them in the right direction, coordinate effort and reduce weaknesses. Management is restricting, controlling, playing safe, molding, forcing, regimenting, stifling, rigid, autocratic, consistent, and Doing things right

A leader on the other hand is all about people. Leaders work on the system , create and seize opportunities, change organizational rules, provide a vision to believe in and strategic alignment, motivate people by satisfying basic human needs, inspire achievement, energize people and amplify strengths. Leadership is enabling, freeing, risking, releasing, enhancing, challenging, participating, flexible, democratic, predictable, and Doing right things

Jim Clemmer is a renowned leadership consultant in the Kitchener region and defines three core areas where business must excel to succeed in the marketplace: leadership, management and technology. In Jim’s work and research, in almost all organizations that he has worked with, leadership almost always identified as lagging behind the technology and management aspects of the business. It is also cited as the number one area where employees feel there is most improvement required.

In the words of one of the top teachers on leadership, John Maxwell, 99 per cent of leadership does not come from the top of an organization, but from the middle of the organization. If you do not hold a top management position, you can make a great impact from wherever you are in the organization. The key is to become influential where you are in the organization or company.

Are leaders just born naturally? Some people believe they are but I suspect great leaders have themselves been influenced along the way by various mentors, learning experiences, trials and errors, challenges and obstacles, education and on an on. In any walk of life at times we will exhibit more skills and abilities in some areas that come naturally to us and less in others and I would suggest this is no different from great leaders. But to become great at anything requires work, diligence and willingness to grow and improve and leadership is no different. It can require learning new skills such as people skills and communication skills. It can require learning how to motivate and inspire the employees and staff in your company and yes these skills can be learned once you understand basic human needs and principles.

Our definition of a leader is someone who leads by example and can inspire or encourage someone to reach their full potential and achieve specific goal successfully along the way. Well, that can be done in the middle, on the side, on the bottom or on top of the organization. But one must take the key of influence and turn it to unlock the treasures that lie within individuals to make a difference in their respective organization/company.

Doug Brown is president of DBC Marketing Inc., employee engagement specialist and partner! DBC Marketing provides strategies and solutions to companies that engage with employees and increase productivity. Contact Doug at 519-656-1066, or at [email protected], or visit