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Management and Leadership: What’s the difference?

Management and leadership are often described as if they are both the same but in reality they are very different. While there are areas of commonality there are areas of difference. So what are some of the differences?
1. Focus
A lot of what managers do is focussed on the here and now or short-term. While leaders may also have to focus on the short-term, for example, in times of crisis, their focus will generally be more on the medium to longer term.
2. Creativity
Management is generally about maintaining what is already in place and making sure that things run smoothly. They make sure that everything is working as it should day-to-day. Leadership on the other hand is much more about innovating, being creative and finding ways of developing the business.
3. Skill set
Managers need to be extremely effective in dealing with the detail. They therefore need to understand things at a detailed level so that they can respond effectively when things go wrong. Leaders on the other hand need to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture. They need to be able to take what is often referred to as the helicopter view of the business.
4. Personal qualities
In any organisation there will be a number of managers and so there will be a fairly big support network. Leaders, especially those at the top of the organisation, are often much more isolated. They therefore need to have the self belief, motivation and drive to deal with this. In addition, they need to become skilled at building wider networks.
5. Knowledge
Those that are managing an activity, department, project or process generally need to have good and often detailed knowledge of whatever they managing. Leaders on the other hand need to have a broad range of business knowledge. This is best illustrated by the fact that leaders can often move between industries that they may not know a lot about because they have a broad base of knowledge and leadership qualities.

There are many different schools of thought on what is different between management and leadership. Fundamentally leadership is about driving the organisation forward while management is about maintaining what is already in place.

About the author
Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements Ltd (G&A)works with individuals, teams and organisations to develop their management and leadership capability. Sign up today for his free e-course and newsletter at

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