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What’s the Difference Between Leadership and Management?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the tough predicament business owners are in due to the global pandemic and our response to it.

I’ve been talking about the need for you to be a strong leader in your business. This is different from being a good manager (though that’s vitally important right now, too!). 

But what exactly is the difference between the two?

Some would say that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them. Others might say that the biggest difference is the way in which leaders and managers motivate the people who work or follow them.

I believe leadership is an overused term. Showing leadership is certainly important but it doesn’t magically solve all your problems. Actually putting the plans into practice is about management.

It’s about actively intervening to steer your ship in the right direction. Yes, doing this yourself and showing leadership is part of the process, but there’s much more to it than that.

It’s about getting the culture right and the rules of the game right.

A successful business owner needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to execute their vision of success.

Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision and to work with you to achieve your goals. Managing is more about administration and making sure the day-to-day things are happening as they should.


What are the traits of leaders and managers – and how do they work together?

A leader has their eye on the horizon and a manager has their eye on the bottom line! As a leader you need to have the vision to know where you are, where you want to go and how to engage your team. Without this a manager cannot work with the team to execute the plan. The leader plans general goals and the direction for the business and the manager focuses on the specifics.

A leader keeps the team inspired to push through to the next level and ensuring that everyone understands their role in the bigger picture. This allows the manager to control day-to-day work strategies, anticipate needs and review resources.

A manager asks how and when. The leader asks what and why. A manager maintains control and order and a leader develops an environment for change.

A leader has the ability to challenge the status quo and to do things differently – to think outside the box. This enables a manager to ensure that the processes and systems in place are the most effective and efficient.

The leader focuses on people, the manager focuses on the system and processes.

A leader has great communication skills, with the ability to keep the team informed of the progress, where you are, where you are heading and any speed bumps expected along the way. A great manager needs to look after the team, listen to their needs and involve them in the process.

Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing. Managers focus on rules, compliance and tasks and ensuring things are done right, on time and on budget. Leaders focus on purpose, principles and people… in other words doing the right thing.

As business owners, the challenge often lies in making sure you are both leading your team as well as managing the day-to-day operations – and this is being brought into sharp focus as we steer our businesses through these challenging times. 

Whether you’re a leader or a manager it’s about achieving maximum results in minimum time. There are significant differences between leadership and management – and both roles are critical.

In small business, the two roles overlap and success comes to those business owners who are able to do both.

Power to you!  

Stefan Kazakis 

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