Leaders often ask themselves, "Am I leading or managing?"
And if you find yourself doubting your own leadership, you're not alone: many business leaders aren't sure if they're managing or leading.
The line between management versus leadership seems thin, but there are clear differences between them.
What you're about to discover here are:
When you know what makes leaders and managers different, you can find out which one you are. Then you can start to think and act like a leader or manager at the right time.
So, let's dive right in.
The relationship between a manager and a leader can be seen when building a house.
Let me illustrate.
A house needs 3 things at the most basic level: a blueprint, contractor, and materials like bricks, cement, etc.
The person who creates the blueprint is the architect. The contractor follows the blueprint and lays down the bricks accordingly. The bricks and cement hold the house.
The architect is the leader. And the contractor is the manager. The architect creates the plan, while the contractor creates the processes to lay down the bricks
That's the most basic level of explanation. But there are many more nuances that make leadership overlap with management, which can be tricky to navigate.
Are management and leadership skills the same?
Do they exhibit the same behaviour? What about the mindset?
In this section, we're going to dive deep into the details. So you can clearly understand the difference deep down and integrate the specific behaviours and mindset you need to succeed.
The first difference you'll find between management and leadership is in their minds.
Leaders are driven by vision, and managers execute it.
For example, you tell your managers that you want to focus on enhancing employee benefits this quarter. You can give them an overview of the plan, strategies, and timeline, but the manager will think of the processes and resources needed to execute it.
Leaders don't just create the plan. They also align people to it. It's their role to get buy-ins from their stakeholders, executives, and middle management about their ideas, vision, or plans.
This is why charisma and persuasiveness are essential traits of a leader.
Managers, on the other hand, focus more on organising resources and processes. Once they're aligned with the leader's plan, they'll devise and execute the processes and ensure their employees follow them.
Leaders are visionaries. They're passionate about their ideas and have the creativity to develop new concepts, strategies, and ways of doing things.
They start this process by inspiring people about their vision. Then, they influence them towards it by helping the employees see why the business is crucial for themselves or society.
Managers, on the other hand, are more focused on giving people the tools to succeed. They help their employees work better, faster, or more effectively.
For example, a leader has a new vision to incorporate diversity and inclusivity in the company. This may cause a lot of unrest because this could mean a change of structure. It's the leader's role to calm the anxiety, clarify the uncertainties, and clear the doubts.
Then, the manager comes in and thinks of tools or processes necessary to calm the employees and clarify any questions they might have in mind. Maybe, they'll create weekly meetings to address these questions.
Leaders are the ones with the vision. They're always looking for new opportunities or problems in the market that can be solved or mitigated.
Managers, on the other hand, think more in the present moment.
For example, you have two people who have to plan a fresher's party for their employees at work. One of them has a vision about hiring someone to portray an 'ice breaker' character (say Dr. Jason Leong, the stand-up comedian). The other manager thinks of having a potluck and invites everyone in the team to bring some food.
The first person is thinking about how employees will bond and create memories. While the second thinks of a party where everyone can eat and have fun.
Leaders are the ones who shape the company culture. They're passionate about their mission and values, which they will be communicating to their employees.
Managers, on the other hand, are less focused on creating a culture. They'll make sure everyone follows procedures and processes.
Succession planning is the perfect example here. A leader decides and creates a culture where every employee is groomed to think and act like a leader. Company values such as vision, empathy, or integrity are critical traits of a leader.
Managers, on the other hand, are more focused on succession management. Which is making sure that a small group of employees is ready to take over the leaders' duties.
So, managers maintain the employee's leadership qualities by training them continuously.
What's the verdict here? Is leadership better than management? Or vice versa?
Being a good leader is more about the intangible qualities of a person. Thinking beyond, taking risks, creating an emotional connection with your employees. These are all elements that make leadership necessary.
On the other hand, management skills are more straightforward. It's not as creative as leadership, but it has its own benefits. Good managers can implement certain processes and tools to help employees be more successful.
To summarise, leadership is about the future, while management is about the present.
Leaders will inspire people with their vision. At the same time, managers organise them and create procedures for them to follow. Finally, leaders look at culture as a strategic element of business and managers keep it consistent.
The conclusion is that one is better than the other in specific situations.
Leadership is better than management when it comes to innovation, creativity, and risk-taking. Management is better when it comes to processes, organisation, and discipline.
Just like how a contractor needs a blueprint to build a sturdy house and the architect needs the contractor to lay down the bricks. Leaders and managers need each other, and both of them play different roles at different times.
The biggest challenge that nearly every leader faces in 2020/2021 is the shift from physical to virtual workplace. It’s difficult to engage remote employees, create a hybrid office culture, and take care of your employee’s mental health at the same time.
That is why we’ve created guides and resources to ease your journey during these tough times.