Management vs. Leadership: The Difference

Management and Leadership: The Difference

The words “management” and “leadership” are often used interchangeably in casual conversations. However, several scholars in the fields of business and leadership studies have argued that these two concepts have different meanings and thus, different usage.

What Is The Difference Between Management and Leadership?

In his 1977 article, Abraham Zaleznik, a leading scholar and educator in the fields of organizational psychodynamics and psychodynamics of leadership, discussed the difference between management and leadership and by extension, the differences between managers and leaders as far as functions and qualities are concerned.

He explained that managers embrace process, seek stability and control, and instinctively try to resolve problems as quickly as possible. On the other hand, leaders tolerate chaos and the lack of structure, while also being willing to delay problem resolution to understand the underlying issues more fully.

It is also worth mentioning that leadership has been generally defined as a process of influencing a group of people to achieve shared goals and objectives.

Management, on the other hand, has been generally viewed as the administration of an organization through the effective and efficient use of all available and applicable resources needed to accomplish organizational goals and objectives.

Based on the definitions mentioned above, “managing” is more organizational, while “leading” is more personal and relational. In addition, management is a systematic way of overseeing an organization while leadership focuses on influencing and inspiring people.

Management and leadership are essential for organizational success. Mangement should not replace leadership, and leader is not a better alternative to a management. An individual can be both a manager and a leader at the same time. In addition, it is necessary for this individual to have strong capabilities in managing and leading people.

Of course, different theories of leadership seem to suggest that there are similarities or overlaps between management and leadership. For example, transactional leadership is more rigid or systematic and less relation-oriented unlike transformational leadership. Authoritarian leadership also puts emphasis on managerial attributes described by Zaleznik such as putting emphasis on quick problem solving and simplification of communication.

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