Leadership and Management Differences

The terms leadership and management are sometimes used interchangeably regardless of the fact that they bear different meanings. Some individuals posit that there is no difference between leadership and management. However, academics like Henry Mintzberg stress that the aspect of leadership is indeed a subset of management.

On the other hand, Warren Bennis is of the opinion that the two terms are distinct from each other. This essay takes the position that the concepts of leadership and management are different from each other even though they are concurrently used to compliment each other.

To begin with, Kotterman (2006, p. 14) argues that leaders are often admired as charismatic individuals and are also valued in most workplace settings. However, managers are seen as taskmasters for organizations. They are also perceived as discipline masters who instill discipline and issue ruthless orders to subordinates.

Are the perceived differences between leadership and management point out the reality on the ground? Alternatively, does the perceived differences between leadership and management influence workplace performance? These are some of the salient questions that demand responses even as we explore the two organizational behavior concepts.

There has been growing academic discourse on the difference between leadership and management. Major organizations, government organs and scholars are all concerned about leadership and management. Therefore, there must be a difference between the two terms whatsoever.

Performance literatures that discuss leadership and management point out a number of definitions. The regular use of the two terminologies has led to blurred difference between the concepts even though they are not the same.

As a matter of fact, the two concepts have be en used casually at workplace for several decades to an extent people no longer see any distinction between them. However, it is prudent to mention that the position assumed by most leadership theorists and management scholars has not watered down the unique interpretations of the two terminologies.

According to Kotterman (2006, p.16), motivation of employees, alignment of resources and establishment of direction are some of the common roles shared out between leaders and managers. Nonetheless, it is vital to mention that the roles of planning and budgeting are exclusively centered around a manager while a leader offers direction. Besides, the responsibilities of managers are quite narrow compared to that of leaders in organizations.

For example, management teams in organizations are charged with the role of organizing the available resources, stabilizing work processes and also maintaining order at workplace. In contrast, organizations are supposed to be aligned by leaders. New goals and objectives are also developed by the leadership of an organization. In addition, it can be appreciated that management teams are expected to control and seek viable solutions to emerging challenges in organizations.

However, leaders inspire and motivate people. It is also interesting to point out that order, predictability, consistency and standards are produced by managers. On the other hand, leaders are highly likely to generate failure, lack of order and dramatic change in organizations.

Directive posts are usually held by managers in organizations. In other words, managers generally organize functions and ensure that the human resource pool and other stakeholders in organizations are utilized in the most economic and beneficial manner. In any case, a manager is anticipated to be well endowed with leadership efficacy. Better still, management and leadership have different focuses altogether.

Nienaber (2010, p. 661) presents a detailed literature analyses of the conceptual differences and similarities between managers and leaders in organizations. The author explores and critiques various perspectives assumed by academic scholars on leadership and management. From a general point of view, it is apparent that managers play multiple roles in organizations compared to leaders. For instance, the functions of leaders tend to overlap with those of the management teams.

However, the author notes that there are no well defined or distinct tasks that leaders perform. Leaders tend to execute general roles as required in organizations on a daily basis. The comprehensive nature of management is visualized during the hiring process. Well defined job specifications are pointed out for managers during recruitment. As already hinted out, managers are also leaders in their individual working capacities. However, leaders may not necessarily be managers in organizations.

The concepts of leadership and management are evidently separate from each other even though the dividing line between the two is quite thin (Nienaber 2010, p. 665). At this point, it is interesting to learn that both leadership and management share a common objective in spite of the fact that their functions are different. The overlapping nature between the roles performed by leaders and managers has been the main source of confusion for a long time.

In conclusion, it can be visualized that leadership and management are distinct from each other. Although the terms are casually used in most workplaces to imply the same meaning, academic scholars in leadership and management tend to bring out a clearer picture between the functions of managers and leaders.

Moreover, the slight deviations in arguments presented by scholars on this subject do not eventually equate leadership and management. In stricter terms, it can be stressed that managers perform more articulate, defined and comprehensive responsibilities than leaders in most workplace settings.


Nienaber, H. 2010, “Conceptualization of management and leadership”, Management Decision, vol. 48, no. 5, pp. 661-675.

Kotterman, J. 2006, “Leadership versus Management: What’s the Difference?” The Journal for Quality and Participation, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 13-17.