Leadership and Management: Concepts and Differences


Effective leadership plays an important role towards the success of various activities in organizations. Notably, efficient leadership facilitates the adaptive capability of any organization to the changing external environment. Vigilance within organizational management is quite essential, since lack of careful watch on the external environment may result into organizational failure; even if the internal processes are well coordinated.

Management and Leadership

Essentially, leadership and management may seem similar, but there are fundamental differences that cut across leadership and management. Leadership portrays a high degree of integrity where the leaders are endowed with capacities to articulate the thoughts and behaviors of all the people they lead. On the other hand, management is result-oriented and is mainly concerned with control of processes within a productive enterprise. The current business world is so dynamic that managers in the contemporary organizations need to posses leadership skills that would enhance the success in leading the organizations to achieve their goals and objectives.

Fundamentally, management is seen as the establishment of formal steps, planning and setting up strategies to achieve the set goals. According to Kotter (2001), “leadership compliments management but it does not replace it” (p. 89). Leadership is portrayed as a directional move taken by an organization in an attempt to achieve its vision through an individual usually referred to as the leader. This is in contrast to the article managers and leaders in which the two aspects are brought out to be closely related. In the latter, management is perceived as a holistic process which takes into account all the stakeholders in an organization. It involves the required training of all the members in an organization so as to have a cadre of professionals which will simplify the execution of duties in the organization.

Further, Zaleznik (2004) reveals that “the managerial culture emphasizes rationality and control” (p. 73) and it does not require a genius to be a manager but the ability to exercise control over others is critical in management. Since leaders are the torch-bearers of a group, it is imperative for managers to assume a leadership role by being tolerant, hard working and possessing high degree of analytical ability in order to achieve the goals of the organization. To initiate action, a manager can use coercion, punishments or even rewards to influence the behavior of the subordinates in the right direction. In order to achieve the desired results, managers need to be good conflict handlers and should ensure that the right environment prevails in the organization so that the desired results are achieved adequately. Management is a career unlike leadership and mainly depends on experience and the size of the organization (Heifetz & Laurie, 2001).

Another aspect of the relationship between management and leadership is the aligning people in terms of staffing and organizing work (Kotter, 2001). Aligning people means the physical positioning of people in an organization so as to carry out particular tasks. On the other hand, staffing is the process of selecting qualified personnel to fill up positions in an organization, while organizing is the placing the right people in the right positions so as to achieve efficiency in an organization. Since leadership also involves motivating people in an organization, the use of positive reinforcement in order to induce behavioral change in a group of people is essential in managerial work. This is done through setting standards and establishing attractive workplace environment in order to ensure that the required results in an organization are achieved.

More so, management is perceived by Heifetz & Laurie (2001) as an adaptive process. The analogy of Jack Prichard is used to emphasize the value of change of habits for survival where he was forced to completely change his lifestyles if he had to survive. Considering the current business world, the changes in technology are forcing leaders to be very dynamic and also to focus more on the future than the present. Another aspect that is eminent it the article about leadership is for a leader to move up to a balcony or a higher place to be able to take account of whatever is happening in and around their area of responsibility. By employing this technique, a leader is able to keep abreast with changes in the business world and be able to take the necessary corrective measures. An example of a company that has been able to achieve a lot through adaptive work is the KPMG Company in Netherlands. The company identified structural challenges in the auditing sector that was draining a lot of the company’s profits. The company’s CEO, Koedijk, adapted through going into new markets and the company was able to cope with the challenges (Heifetz & Laurie, 2001).

According to Badaracco (1998, p. 91), “to become leaders, managers need to translate their personal values into calculated action”. A good manager needs to understand his/her weaknesses to be able to provide good leadership to all the other members of a group. This is what he referred to as the defining moments in the article. Before taking any course of action, a critical analysis of the possible outcomes should be the main focus in management. This is an attribute of leaders which postulates that a leader should have a minimum of the maximum knowledge of his/her subjects. This enables a leader to be able to manage all the members well taking in to consideration all their aspirations and their degree of reasoning. This ensures concrete decision making and the making of inclusive decisions. It is also important for a leader to display high levels of shrewdness and expediency as evidenced in the article when Steve Lewis had to combine idealism and realism to be able to deal with problems in the business world (Badaraco, 1998). This was unlike the mare introspection that had been applied in the previous times.

Quite importantly, problem solving is the main focus of the article managers and leaders. According to Zaleznik (1990), managers create a good strategy in which a problem can be solved. They take into account all the aspects of the problem. On the other hand, a leader may leave some aspects to chance. Managers view work as an enabling process which must be done in order to achieve the desired results. Leaders view work as a means of achieving the desired results (Zaleznik, 2004).


From the above discussion, it is clear that leadership and management are two aspects that are much related. Indeed, good managers must posses’ good leadership skills in order to be able to carry out the managerial work well. Though there are various differences between the two, it is important for contemporary managers to possess good leadership skills in order to enhance their success in their managerial work. This paper has highlighted that, leadership and management are inseparable and seem to complement each other.


Badaracco, J.L. (1998). The discipline of building character. Harvard Business Review, 76(2), 89-113.

Heifetz, R.A. & Laurie, D.L. (2001). The work of leadership. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 131-141.

Kotter, J. (2001). What leaders really do Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-97.

Zaleznik, A. (2004). Managers and leaders: Are they different? Harvard Business Review, 82(1), 74-81.