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10 Dec

Betty Ebbi John


The big debate- Management vs Leadership- what's the difference and can they be mutually inclusive?

I recently wrote an article on how managers control while leaders create and received a lot of feedback that challenged me to look into the topic in even more depth and from a different perspective.

Can we lead without managing and can we manage without leading?

I completed some more research and asked people who I consider to be leaders on their thoughts in the matter.

With newly discovered insights I was able to put together 3 explanations to help clarify, once and for all, the difference between leadership and management.


Leadership = People

Management = Tasks

When reading The Servant by James C. Hunter, I came across this perfectly articulated differentiation;

'Management is not something you do to other people. You manage your inventory, your checkbook, your resources. You can even manage yourself. But you do not manage other human beings, you manage things, you lead people'

So when asked the question- Can you be a leader, but not a manager and vice versa? the answer is simple. If you have people reporting into you, you must be both a leader and a manager. If you are working on your own, it would suffice to be a manager (as you need to manage yourself and only tasks).

Once we start treating people like tasks, we neglect to take into account the emotional factors that come with the complex human being. This leads me to the next differentiating explanation.


Leadership = Effectiveness

Management = Efficiency

When it comes to leading people we need to strive for effectiveness. When it comes to tasks, we need to ensure they are carried out efficiently. For example, I may allocate 10 minutes to a task such as uploading documents to a website. I can't however allocate 10 minutes to solve each employee's concerns.

When it comes to dealing with people, we need to lead by actively listening to their ideas, concerns, passions and ambitions. We need to coach them to find the answer as opposed to saving time by simply giving them orders or pre-packaged solutions.


Leadership = Empowering

Management= Directing

There are times when we need to empower others to become more and do more. When we see them swinging in the cozy hammock inside their comfort zone, we need to then stretch them so they can stay excited and passionate.

Below is my adaptation of the Performance vs. Pressure graph. People perform at their best when they are stretched. Once they are on either side of this graph for a prolonged period of time, they will start looking for a different opportunity.












We can put them in their stretch zone by empowering them and constantly checking in to ensure they are where they want to be- this is an attribute of leadership.

There will be times on the other hand when we need to direct and allocate tasks to them with more detail and boundaries- that's where direction through management comes in.

So to sum up;

Leadership = Empowering people for maximum effectiveness

Management = Directing tasks for optimum efficiency


This post originally appeared on Linkedin. Written by Lydia Moussa

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