6 Important Differences Between Management and Leadership

We’ve all had good bosses and we’ve all had bad bosses. At one point or another, we will all be in a position where we have the power to build someone up or tear someone down based on their job performance. This situation can arise when you are the actual boss of someone, it can arise when you've had an established presence at a new organization and a newbie walks through the door, or it can arise when a colleague faces adversity while on the job. What you do when these situations arise dictates not only whether you are a leader or a manager, but also the fabric of your character. This week, we wanted to illustrate the key differences between a manager and a leader. Which are you going to be?

1. A manager delegates. A leader motivates.

Sometimes, you have to tell someone what to do. A manager has no problem with that. It’s simple, right? Just delegate the task to someone! If they don't do it, they’re in trouble. A leader, however, will motivate. Motivation largely comes from empowering an employee, or giving them a personal stake in the task at hand. Perhaps allow this person do complete the task in a manner that fits his/her personality and/or working habits. Or perhaps you might ask this person how he/she thinks this task should be completed. In either instance, you’re empowering the employee to think for themselves, rather than think for you. And let’s face it, people are more likely to listen to their own thoughts than yours.

2. A manager is threatened by achievement.  A leader recognizes achievement.

Don't be the manager who lashes out at an employee for something that doesn't matter, just to put that employee in their "place." When employees go above and beyond, a manager will feel threatened. This is coming from a place of insecurity- not leadership. True leaders recognize and reward their employee's achievements. And why wouldn’t they? If an employee is doing their job well, the leader is doing their job well.

3. A manager communicates the "what?'s." A leader communicates the "why?'s."

The “what’s” are the pointless rules that no one respects, or the tasks that employees don’t understand the value in. A manager has no problem communicating the “what?’s.” When asked about the reasons behind these types of rules, they often snap back, “because that's the way it works around here.” A leader communicates the "why?'s." A leader tells employees the importance of each rule, how adhering to the rule will make the organization run more smoothly, and the consequences of not following affect the team, as a whole. Sometimes employees need to understand the “why?’s” before they truly follow through with the "what?'s."

4. A manager thinks, "Do as I say, not as I do." A leader thinks, “I must practice what I preach.”

The worst kind of managers are the hypocritical ones. They reprimand employees for things they do on a daily basis and they enforce rules that they don’t follow themselves. Consequently, managers create a culture of resentment, rather than respect. A leader understands that in order for rules to be respected, they must be followed by every person in the organization, equally. More than that, a leader wants to lead by example, rather than by words. This way, when the time does come to enforce a rule, a leader will command respect, rather than resentment.

5. A manager commits to the status quo. A leader commits to innovation.

A manager does whatever the organization has always done, often blindly. A manager isn't open to new ideas and doesn't believe employees are smart enough to have new ideas. A leader knows when it is time to lead, and when it is time to follow. There is always room for improvement in an organization, always. The newest employee may recognize a hiccup in a particular process. And if they’re brave enough to speak up, leaders are always brave enough to listen to what he/she has to say.

6. A manager uses authority to be lazy. A leader uses authority to spread influence.

Being a manager affords a certain amount of authority. Using authority to benefit yourself at the expense of others is lazy. That's a manager. A leader uses their authority to raise others up, instead of furthering their own agenda.  

At the end of the day, whether you are dealing with a manager or a leader, it’s up to you to determine how you will conduct yourself in the workplace. If you’re dealing with a manager, show them what REAL leadership is. Sure they will be threatened, but deep down, they’ll know that you’re right.

“At our core, we are not made to be extensions of machines, or to find our personal validity in four decades of gutting it out just so we can sit on a beach for a few years before we die. In short, we are made to make meaning, not just money.”  - Chuck Blakeman, author of "Why Employees are Always a Bad Idea," true leader

Kate Jacoutot

Spire Workforce Solutions, 5575 Peachtree Dunwoody Road Northeast, Building C, Suite 240, Sandy Springs, GA, 30342, United States