Leadership is about leading people, while management is about managing subordinates. Some would say that these two are entirely the same, and some would say that they are different. That’s why managers often fall into the trap of thinking that they either need to manage or lead their subordinates.

At Effective Managers™, we say that the two skills are different, and you need to know how to distinguish them. However, the two skills also complement each other, and every manager or leader needs to be adept at both. Managers must be leaders, and leaders must manage. Increasingly this leadership skill set of managers is being recognized as demonstrated in this recent article by Gallup.

First, let’s see how the two are different from each other:

Why Leadership and Management are Parts of the Same Role

If you are a “manager”, you need to have the skills to lead your team. Certainly, if you are accountable for the output of a team, you need to be able to motivate and inspire them. If you are a “leader” you need to be able to delegate, monitor, give feedback, coach and so on. You would ignore these skills at your peril.

Here are some reasons why leadership and management are two sides of the same coin.

  • Managers must have a plan for themselves to guide their work and that of their team. This must be based in their vision for their unit so they can communicate what their team members need to do for success. Leaders always have a clear vision in mind that guides the company forward to a specific goal. As you can already guess, it’s possible to think about both because you can have a vision in mind while still being grounded in the now, working toward specific, short-term goals. Both are necessary whether you are the head of the organization or leading a front-line team.
  • What do you think is better, to take risks or to calculate the best course of action? It’s hard to know the answer because there is no one answer, depending on the case at hand. Traditionally it is said that leaders take risks and managers calculate their actions, but you have to do both depending on the situation. Whatever your role, paralysis by analysis is a real threat. In to-day’s world one is seldom able to keep completely abreast of changing circumstances. And it is impossible to gather all of the information available on any topic. Anyone in charge of a team, no matter what level of the organization, needs to use judgment to make decisions and to use judgment to decide how much information is required for a timely decision.
  • “Managers” are there to give context to subordinates who can them achieve better goals. “Leaders” are there to inspire others to lead and improve. You get my drift. How can one manage without inspiring? How can one lead without setting context? The two cannot exist in isolation because you need to manage your team while also leading them. Both qualities are necessary for all who manage teams.
  • “Leaders” focus on getting people to collaborate as a team. “Managers” focus on getting each subordinate to do their part. Of course, this is patently untrue. At all times, team need their manager to set context, to help clear the way when obstacles are encountered,. and to provide coaching, guidance and support. Team members must also collaborate to succeed. Both must co-exist.

The Secret Lies in Effective Managerial Leadership

As you can see, the answer is not one or the other – the answer is both. Managers need to lead while managing, and leaders need to manage while leading. For my part, I would ban both words from use in organizations. The better term is managerial leadership.

To be an effective manager, you need to learn:

  • To be a smart delegator, a person who delegates tasks and encourages their subordinates to improve and work together.
  • To be an advocate who inspires employees to trust their organization and take pride in what they do.
  • To be an effective coach. If you want to manage people, you must learn to coach them towards better performance.
  • To be a competent communicator who can explain concepts clearly to their employees, ensuring there are no misunderstandings.
  • To be a relationship builder because you need to have meaningful relationships with each subordinate to improve company culture.

If you’re looking to learn more about effective managerial leadership, take a look at the many useful eLearning resources we have.