What’s the Difference Between Managing and Leading?

What’s the Difference Between Managing and Leading?

Is management and leadership the same thing? Is management a bad thing? Can I become a great leader if I am stuck in a situation that requires a lot of managing? Is someone considered a leader because of their title?

No, managing and leading are not the same thing. Managing is about the day to day coordination of resources to accomplish goals. Leading is about the people and includes inspiring, motivating, engaging, enrolling, empowering people to accomplish a mission and vision. We manage things and lead people.

Every job in management has some day-to-day management responsibilities. A supervisor has more day-to-day responsibilities than an executive. Being a great manager helps organizations succeed. Being a great leader is different than being a great manager, but it helps to know how to do both well. If your job requires more management, that doesn’t prevent you from being sensitive about when to lead others. In fact, it might make your leadership stand out.

Some people believe their title is what makes them leader. Leadership is not a level, nor a title, and it is not freely given to those who rely solely on the power that goes along with a big title. The higher you are in an organizational structure, the more you need to lead others. If you spend too much time managing, your team will not be led.

It can be difficult to lead more than you manage. When you put a lot of energy into managing and you accomplish a lot, it seems like that’s what the organization wants you to do – get more results! However, due to this seduction, many people overutilize their management skills and underutilize their leadership skills, which creates organizational cultures that are under-led and over-managed. Often, a manager who has been recently promoted into an executive role continues to manage when the job requires him or her to lead.

An executive level job comes with an enormous amount of challenges and complexities. The amount of pressure and stress associated with consistently creating business results is enormous. The pressure from having to deliver quarterly results (if your company is public) makes executives do everything possible to meet their revenue and profit projections. As pressure builds, executives often seek more control and use positional power to turn things around. It’s common to think this is good leadership.

The bulldog style of leadership makes things happen. However, followers feel this leadership style is used to keep them from screwing up and not making mistakes. This “energy” is felt and usually results in disengagement because people don’t feel trusted and lack autonomy.

There are times, especially during a crisis or emergency, the bulldog style of leadership is useful and productive. However, if used all the time, it becomes a leading indicator of how others will judge you as a leader. Lee Colan, in an article in Inc. Magazine, wrote: “The Top 10 Derailers of Leadership Success.” They are:

  1. Have all the answers
  2. Not connecting with the person behind the employee
  3. Slow decision-making
  4. Unclear vision and expectations
  5. Lack of personal integrity
  6. Stop learning and changing
  7. Undisciplined approach to hiring employees
  8. Organizational indigestion
  9. Personal ego needs blur the needs of the team
  10. Talk more than listen

The point of all this information on poor leadership is to challenge you to considerif you have any of these tendencies, even in small amounts. These traps are a challenge to overcome, and they are almost impossible to overcome if you can’t see yourself doing them. I had a well-intentioned boss who suffered from most of the derailers, but didn’t know it. He couldn’t get better because he never saw the derailers and how they impacted others. That becomes a big problem!