Leadership and management are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably in business, but the truth is that they are extremely different from one another. To state it simply, leadership is essentially about making people understand and have faith in the vision that they have established for their organization, and to work with them in accomplishing their objectives. On the other hand, management is more pertinent to administration and ensuring that the daily activities of the organization are taking place as required. Leadership is essentially a skill possessed by certain individuals, whereas management is a responsibility assigned to people. Leaders have followers, whereas managers have people who just work for them.

Definitions and meanings


Leadership is the skill through which a person becomes capable of leading a group of individuals and inspiring them to move forward in a certain direction. This process is interpersonal in nature and seeks to have an impact on a person or a group in such a way that they are willing and eager to achieve the goals. The reason why people follow leaders is because of their personality, attitude and beliefs.

Leadership is not something that can be taught; rather, it is a quality that very limited people possess. A leader is a person who has this quality and someone who is an inspiration to others. A leader has the ability to guide people so that they can together accomplish the goals of the organization. Leaders show interest in the success of their followers, and help them in accomplishing their objectives, which are not essentially those of the organization.

A leader does not always have a tangible or formal authority that has been awarded to him/her by the organization. A leader is assigned temporary authority, which may be dependent on the leader’s ability to continue to encourage and inspire their followers.

People who are in a leadership role typically have three common characteristics:

  • They serve as an inspiration for others to share their vision
  • They provide motivation so that they can fulfill their vision
  • They provide encouragement and facilitate others so that they can get past any hindrances that they face in accomplishing their vision.


Management refers to the process through which people and things in an organization are managed or regulated. Managers are the individuals assigned to accomplish the task of planning, organizing, controlling and coordinating activities within an organization.

The tasks assigned to a manager are typically mentioned in a job description. The main focus of a manager is to fulfill the organizational goals and objectives that have been specified. Subordinates follow the guidelines and directions of their managers because of the job title or designation of the managers. Managers are accountable for all of their actions, and also for those working under them. The focus of managers is on establishing, measuring and accomplishing organizational goals by controlling situations so as to attain or surpass their goals.

People in a managerial role have the authority to formulate rules, standards, processes and operating mechanisms. They are assigned the task of looking after the daily activities of the organization, assessing existing resources and making any changes that may be required. Unlike a leader, a manager depends on control provided to them by means of their official designation. A manager exercises authority of their job designation to exert influence on their subordinates and get work done from them.

Differences between leadership and management

The key differences between leadership and management are discussed below:

1. Meaning

Leadership is a trait possessed by people capable of leading others through inspiration. On the other hand, management is the formal process through which organizational activities are managed.

2. Basis

Leadership is based on trust of followers towards their leaders, while in management, the manager is responsible for regulating the activities of their subordinates.

3. Emphasis

The emphasis in leadership is on inspiring and encouraging others, whereas management focuses on managing organizational tasks and bringing stability in the organization.

4. Authority

In leadership, leaders assert their authority by influencing others, while in management, managers rule over their subordinates by means of their formal designation/job title.

5. Development of

Leadership involves the development of principles and directions, while management pertains to the adoption and implementation of policies, standards and processes.

6 Perspective

Leadership requires foresightedness of the leaders, whereas a short-term vision is required in management.

7. Strategy

Leadership adopts a proactive strategy, whereas management exhibits a reactive strategy. Change is brought about by leaders, whereas managers bring about stability.

Leadership vs management – tabular comparison

Leadership vs Management
A skill of leading others through inspiration The process of managing activities of an organization
Based on trust Based on control due to formal designation
Inspiring, encouraging and motivating others Managing organizational activities and resources for achieving common objectives
Exhibit authority by influencing others  Exhibit authority by means of rule
Development of
Principles and directions Policies, standards and practices
Good foresightedness is required by leadership Short-term medium and long term vision is exhibited
Proactive strategy to bring about change Reactive strategy to bring about stability

Conclusion – leadership vs management

Even though leadership and management are different from one another, it is important for them to exist alongside each other as they complement one another. If efforts are made to distinguish between the two, an organization is bound to face several issues. An organization can only be successful when it has an efficient management that is able to plan, organize, control and coordinate the activities of its employees and a powerful leadership that is able to inspire and encourage its employees to perform to their maximum potential. Hence, leadership and management are both important for an organization’s growth, survival and success.