Learn about the difference between management and leadership.

A burning question is how management differs from leadership. For some, there is no difference. But increasing complexity drives ever greater specialization, so we really need to recognize that leadership and management are two different functions.

Difference between Management and Leadership

Difference # Management:

1. Concept – Broader concept and includes leadership.

2. Purpose – Management aims to accomplish organisational goals.


3. Functions – It is planning, organising, directing and controlling the organisational activities.

4. Inter-changeability – Good managers are normally good leaders. Managers may carry out the functions of leaders also.

5. Formal structure – Managers belong to the organisational hierarchy. They manage structured groups of people.

6. Followership – Since managers are part of formal hierarchy, they act as managers whether or not subordinates like them.


7. Focus of attention – Management is a process of getting things done. It is more of a procedure and result- oriented approach.

8. Repetitiveness – Managerial functions are repetitive in nature. Managers perform the same functions again and again.

9. Interaction – A manager does not interact with subordinates in person.

10. Nature – Management is directive in nature. It directs people to behave in a particular way.


11. Force – It is a compelling force.

Difference # Leadership:

1. Concept – It is a part of management.

2. Purpose – It may or may not attain organisational goals. It can occur outside the organisation also.

3. Functions – It is influencing the behaviour to achieve a specific purpose.

4. Inter-changeability – Good leaders may or may not be good managers. Leaders do not normally carry out the functions of managers.

5. Formal structure – Leaders are not part of organisational hierarchy. Leaders may even lead unstructured groups of people.

6. Followership – People become leaders if followers accept them as leaders. Leadership cannot exist without followership.

7. Focus of attention – Leadership is a process of influencing the behaviour. The focus is more on human relations.

8. Repetitiveness – They carry out innovative activities and inspire the followers to perform above average.


9. Interaction – Leaders personally interact with the followers.

10. Nature – Leadership is participative. It invites followers to participate in the decision-making process.

11. Force – It is a persuasive force.

What is the Difference between Management and Leadership

Difference # Management:

1. Meaning – Controlling tasks and activities.


2. Function – Goal-oriented.

3. Process – Working with people.

4. Scope – Involves all activities under the managerial tools – Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.

5. Structure – Provides and establishes structure.


6. Employee Relations – Develops incentives and takes cor­rective actions to boost employee morale.

7. Satisfaction – Makes physical changes in the orga­nisation to make feasible working conditions.

8. Flow of Direction – Unidirectional from top to bottom.

9. Vision – Do things in a right manner.

10. Problem Solving – Reactively, solve problems when they occur.

11. Creativity – Limited.

Difference # Leadership:


1. Meaning – Leading people to perform tasks and activities.

2. Function – Goal-oriented.

3. Process – Working with people.

4. Scope – Provides direction across managerial tools – Planning, Organising, Staffing, Directing and Controlling.

5. Structure – Aligns all activities within a structural framework.

6. Employee Relations – Motivates, inspires and empowers employees to boost their morale.


7. Satisfaction – Motivates, inspires and empowers employees to create satisfaction.

8. Flow of Direction – Multidirectional across organizational levels.

9. Vision – Do what is right.

10. Problem Solving – Proactively seek, shape and inspire ideas to solve problems.

11. Creativity – Unlimited.

Difference between Management and Leadership – Explained!

A burning question is how management differs from leadership. For some, there is no difference. But increasing complexity drives ever greater specialization, so we really need to recognize that leadership and management are two different functions. This is the same as saying they serve two different purposes.


A clear way of differentiating the two is to say that:

1. Leadership promotes new directions while management executes existing directions as efficiently as possible. But the work of the manager is not just the mundane monitoring of daily operations. It includes getting the most complex projects done, like putting the first man on the moon. Unfortunately, management is mistakenly seen as task-oriented, controlling and insensitive to people’s needs.

By contrast, leaders are portrayed as emotionally engaging, visionary and inspiring. But, separating leadership from management in terms of style is a dead end, simply because leadership can be shown by quiet or forceful arguments based on hard facts.

2. An inspiring leader induces us to change direction while an inspiring manager motivates us to work harder to get a tough job done on time.

The best managers are very strategic about themselves. They recognize that time and other resources are scarce, that competitive pressures demand efficient use of everything. Being strategic about themselves is the same thing as being a proactive, studious investor who regularly monitors his or her investments in order to shift them around to get a better return.

Managers also have to be strategic about the business. It is not enough to do the work efficiently, it is essential to do the right things. Both of these imperatives can be thought of in terms of wise investment. Management is primarily a decision making role. Managers are charged with the responsibility to make a profit and this requires them to make sound decisions.


By contrast, leadership is strictly informal influence. Leaders persuade people to change direction. This way of thinking about leadership means that it is not a position and that there is no such thing as autocratic leadership. It is vitally important to recast leadership in this way. Otherwise, how can we explain the leadership of Martin Luther King who influenced the Supreme Court to outlaw segregation on buses without any formal authority over this body? We confuse ourselves when we call senior executives leaders.

The truth is that they are managers by virtue of their positions and they only show leadership when they influence people informally, like Martin Luther King did, to change direction. Leadership is an occasional act; management is an ongoing role.

Difference between Management and Leadership – Several Points of Distinction

1. Narrower-Broader:

Leadership is a narrower concept than management in some respects and a broader one than management in some other respects. It is a narrower concept in the sense that it is basically concerned with and confined to inter-personal and human relations, while management is concerned with handling not only people but also events, environmental variables, resources, things and ideas.

Management activities and skills are more broad-based and global than mere guiding and influencing people. Also leadership is a vital element of management and to this extent it is a sub-set of management.

Leadership is a broader concept than management in the sense that its basis is power which is defined as an ability to influence and command people. There are several bases of power, namely – knowledge, resources, charisma, formal authority position and so on. Leadership depends on one or more of these bases. However, management has only one base namely formal authority, the institutional right to command.

2. Authority-Power:

Since leadership is based on power; leaders tend to be prone to exercise their power in a personalized manner. Some leaders may also be pathologically obsessed with power and may not hesitate to exercise it in an unrestrained and irresponsible manner.

As against this, management is based on authority which is vested in a position and hence is impersonal, goes hand-in-hand with responsibility, and is constrained by rules and due processes. Authority is not absolute unlike some other forms of power. Also, managers are expected to exercise their authority in a fair, objective and impartial manner.

3. Tightly Structured – Loosely Structured:

Leadership structures, processes and environments are generally more dynamic, flexible and open than in management. The rules, roles and relationship tend to be loosely structured. The variables operating in the environment of leadership are more complex and volatile than in management. Management is generally associated with organized, structured setting. Managers are bound by organisational goals, resources, structures, processes and policies.

4. Elective-Selective:

In non-management situations, the leadership position of a person arises out of the fact of acceptance by a group of persons who allow them to play the role of his electors and followers. In the absence of the pleasure of followers, leaders would simply not exist or fade away. A leader’s position is an elective position whether direct or indirect, explicit or implicit.

The management position of a person in a group exists and remains independent of acceptance by the members of the group. A manager’s position is not an elective position; it is the product of a selection process. The selectors are his superiors and not his group of subordinates. The latter have to abide by the manager’s authority, whether or not they accept him or like him as such; they can rarely dislodge or disown him.

5. Formal-Informal:

Leader-follower relations have a flavour distinct from manager-subordinate relations. Leaders generally identify themselves with the interests and aspirations of their followers. The relations often tend to become social, personal and emotional. The interaction process between leaders and at least some of their followers tends to be based on equality. The leader of a group may often be regarded at first among equals.

Also, leader-follower relations more often than not are characterized by reciprocity. The influence process between a leader and his followers is mutual. Further, followers look more for psychological support, trust and satisfaction than monetary or other tangible rewards from their leader.

The relations between a manager and his subordinates tend to be more formal, rational and partly impersonal. Managers do not necessarily identify themselves with the aspirations and interests of their subordinates. The question of equality between a manager and his group of subordinates does not arise.

The influence process between a manager and his subordinates is generally unilateral, and is heavily based on authority which flows downwards in an organisation. Subordinates look for tangible rewards like recommendations for increments/promotions.

Difference between Management and Leadership – According to Stephen Covey

The leadership differs from management in terms of the emphasis that is put on the following four activities:

1. Creating an agenda.

2. Developing a human network for achieving the agenda.

3. Executing plans.

4. Outcomes of activities.

While leadership emphasizes change in these activities, management believes in status quo.

Stephen Covey, a consultant on developing leadership, has emphasized the difference between leadership and management as follows:

1. Leadership deals with vision after keeping the mission in sight. It also deals with effectiveness and results. Management deals with establishing structure and systems to get the results. It focuses on efficiency, cost-benefit analysis, logistics, methods, procedures and policies.

2. Leadership focuses on top line management. The management, on the other hand, focuses on the lower level workers. Leadership derives its power from values and correct principles. Management organises resources to serve selected objectives to produce the bottom line.

3. Leadership inspires and motivates people to work together with a common vision and purpose. Management involves controlling and monitoring results against plans, identifying deviations and then planning and organising to solve the problems.

4. Leadership emphasizes transformation aspect and, therefore, transformational leadership emerges. Management focuses on transactional aspect. This leads to the emergence of transactional leadership. Transformational leadership involves a set of abilities that allows leaders to recognise the need for change, to create a vision to guide that change and to execute that change effectively. Transactional leadership involves routine, regimented activities-assigning work, evaluating performance, making decisions and other related activities.

5. Formal Education and Training: There is much research and other literature on leadership and management. Formal education and training for leadership are almost negligible and even non-existent unlike in the case of management which has been evolved into a highly popular and somewhat professional discipline. Programmes for formal education in management, are found everywhere. Of course, managers are often trained and retrained to enable them to develop and sharpen their leadership skills.

Difference between Management and Leadership – Six Key Differences

1. Relationship – Management implies to superior-subordinate relationship. This relationship arises within the organisational context. On the other hand, leadership can occur anywhere within or without organisation context.

2. Sources of influence – A manager are appointed and he obtains authority from his position. He operates on the basis of his formal authority. On the contrary, a leader is not always appointed and he derives his power from his followers who accept him as their leader.

3. Command – A manager has command over the allocation and distribution of rewards (positive sanctions), e.g. promotion and punishment (negative sanctions) e.g. demotion. On the contrary, a leader has command over social satisfaction and related task rewards.

4. Approach – A manager is a boss and a pusher of people. A leader is a friend and a puller of his followers.

5. Accountability – A manager is accountable for his own behaviour as well as for the job of his subordinates. His accountability for performance is clearly defined. But there is no clear-cut accountability relationship in leadership as a leader is not accountable for behaviour in the same way.

6. Concept – Management is a wider concept which also includes leadership i.e. every manager is a leader. On the other hand leadership is a narrower concept, as every leader may or may not be a manager. For example, Gandhiji was a leader but not a manager.