Sometimes management and leadership are used interchangeably.
Other times “management” is derided as unnecessary bureaucracy and “leadership” is an elusive ideal, always in short supply.
What’s really the difference?
John Kotter, a leadership expert who teaches at Harvard, does a good job of distinguishing the two.
Management controls people by pushing them in the right direction; leadership motivates them by satisfying basic human needs.
And this offers insight as to how you can go from being a good manager to being a great leader.
The goal of management is consistency and order.
Modern management was created to deal with complexity in the large organizations of the early 20th century like railroads, steel mills and car factories.
(The function of management is) To minimize deviations from plan, and thus help produce predictable results on important dimensions
How does it achieve this?
Monitoring results versus plan in some detail, both formally and informally, by means of reports, meetings, and other control mechanisms, identifying deviations from plan, which are usually called “problems,” and then planning and organizing to solve those problems
The goal of leadership is to motivate and create necessary change.
These are the qualities of a leader:
To energize people to overcome major obstacles toward achieving a vision, and thus to help produce the change needed to cope with a changing environment
You do this by:
Satisfying very basic but often unfulfilled human needs — for achievement, belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a sense of control over one’s life, living up to one’s ideals — and thereby creating an unusually high energy level in people
You can see this difference explained in classic quotes about the qualities of a leader:
Drawing from John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do, we can get a more granular vision of what managers and leaders spend their time on:
Management is about establishing and supporting processes and systems. Leadership is about deciding on a vision and motivating people to execute it.
Kotter explains that being a leader is a primarily an informal role. A big title matters less than you think if people don’t really believe in you.
This shouldn’t be too surprising: we all know a boss who acts as an absentee landlord and a lower level employee you turn to when you need help rallying troops to meet looming deadlines.
More and more research shows that the bulk of day-to-day power in organizations is informal and not as closely tied to the org chart as you might think.
Why is this? Because everyday leadership is about emotional motivation, not punishment or financial compensation.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
In other words, you don’t need to wait for a promotion to be a leader, you just need the qualities of a leader. In fact, promotions don’t create leaders nearly as often as leadership creates promotions.
Going from manager to leader is more about:
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