Leadership vs Management

Please note:
This collection of commentary is a summary of various viewpoints and current thinking. It is not exhaustive and is intended purely as thought provoking.

The endless and evolving debate.

  • "While the research on leadership is vast and diverse, it has to date been inconclusive and often contradictory"
    Prof Malcolm Higgs
  • "Leadership is contextual."
    Harvard Business School
  • "An organisation with only 1 leader is short on leadership"
    Gerald Egan
  • "What organisations need now is teams of leaders"
  • "Leadership and Management are two distinct but complementary systems."
  • "While managers promote stability, leaders press for change.
    Only organisations that can embrace both sides of that contradiction can thrive in turbulent times"
Leaders are apparent Managers are appointed
Leaders cope with change Managers cope with complexity
Leaders set direction Managers plan
Leaders press for change Managers promote stability
Leaders are visionary, inspirational and have eye to the future Managers are operational, hands on, and based in the 'now'
Leading is concerned with future direction Managing is concerned with in uncertain conditions. implementation, order, efficiency and effectiveness
Transformational Leadership Transactional Management
- Strategic
- Provides vision and direction
- Moves organisation forward
- Tactical
- Day to day management
- Sustains status quo
Leadership is strategic Management is operational
Leaders set the direction Managers develop the capacity to achieve the plan
Leaders motivate and inspire Managers control and problem solve
Leaders need to 'get on the balcony' to spot operational and strategic patterns within the organisation Managers get caught up on the field of action.
Soft Management doesn't mean weak management.
It means openness and vulnerability but also hard choices and responsible follow-up.
Leadership defines the culture of the organisation Management instils the culture in the organisation
Leading the organisation Managing the organisation
Visioning and networkingManaging the service
Internal networkingPlanning
Focusing effortOrganising
Being team orientedBeing goal oriented
Building shared visionPromoting innovation
Facilitating change sensitivelyMaking sound judgements
Supporting a development cultureEnsuring quality
Management has to do with planning and organising, coping with complexity, process and procedures. Leadership is to do with creating this thing in the first place. It is about coping with change and helping others to adapt to a volatile world
Leadership is a very old idea Management sprang to prominence at the time of the Industrial Revolution in Europe

"I have always said that great leadership is nothing to do with charisma or personality traits. Leadership is about actualising potential and then using those skills and abilities. Neither is leadership a privilege for a chosen few. It is HR's role to help develop leadership potential HR managers have to hope supervisors develop employees themselves. It is not HR's job to develop leaders for them. And HR of course has to show leadership in its own function and across the company."


Leadership Abilities = Emotional Intelligence + Intelligence Quotient + Management Capabilities.

"We've known for years that emotional intelligence improves results. Now, new research shows that a leaders' mood plays a key role in that dynamic. This discovery should redefine what leaders do first and best."
Daniel Goleman.

Transformational Leadership Qualities. (TLQ)

  • Showing genuine concern
    Genuine interest in staff as individual: values their contributions, develops their strengths, coaches, mentors, has positive expectations of what their staff can achieve. Is self-aware.
  • Enabling
    Trusts staff to take decisions/initiatives on important matters: delegates effectively, develops staff potential.
  • Being Accessible
    Approachable and non status-conscious: prefers face to face communication. Keeps in touch.
  • Acting Transparently
    Honest and consistent behaviour: more concerned with the good of the organisation than personal ambition.
  • Acting with Integrity
    Open to criticism and disagreement: consults and involves others in decision-making; regards values as integral to the organisation.
  • Being Decisive
    Decisive when required: prepared to take difficult decisions and risks when appropriate.
  • Inspiring People
    Charismatic: exceptional communicator: inspires others to join them.
  • Resolving Complex Problems
    Capacity to deal with a range of complex issues: creative in problem-solving.

  • "Leadership is not about control: the better you are as a leader the better you are able to influence. The more influential you are the less you need to try to control."

    "Leaders who are empowered are clearer about what matters to them and more able to be themselves"

    Leading the Organisation

  • Networking and Achieving.
    Inspiring communicator of the vision of the organisations/service to a wide network of internal and external stakeholders: gains the confidence and support of various groups through sensitivity to needs and by achieving organisational goals.
  • Focusing Effort.
    Clarifies objectives and boundaries; team-oriented to problem-solving and decision-making and to identifying values.
  • Building Shared Vision.
    Has a clear vision and a strategic direction in which s/he engages various internal and external stakeholders. Draws others together in achieving the vision.
  • Supporting a Developing Culture
    Supportive when mistakes are made: encourages critical feedback on him/herself and the service provided.
  • Facilitating Change.
    Sensitive to the impact of change on different parts of the organisation: maintains a balance between change and stability.
  • Source: Adapted from TLQ Scales (Alban-Metcalfe & Alimo-Metcalfe 2003)

    Managing the Organisation

    Henry Mintzberg.

    Managers work involves developing peer relationships, carrying out negotiations, motivating subordinates, resolving conflicts, establishing information networks and disseminating information, making decisions with little or ambiguous information and allocating resources. These skills are different from but complementary to the more concrete ones required of leaders.

    The Seven Elements of Emotional Leadership.

    1. Self-Awareness.
      The awareness of your own feelings and the ability to recognise and manage these.
    2. Emotional Resilience.
      The ability to perform well and consistently in a range of situations and when under pressure.
    3. Motivation.
      The drive and energy which you have to achieve results, balance short and long-term goals and pursue your goals in the face of challenge and rejection.
    4. Interpersonal Sensitivity.
      The ability to be aware of the needs and feelings of others and to use this awareness effectively in interaction with them and arriving at decisions impacting on them.
    5. Influence.
      The ability to persuade others to change their viewpoint on a problem, issue or decision.
    6. Intuitiveness.
      The ability to use insight and interaction to arrive at and implement decisions when faced with ambiguous or incomplete information.
    7. Conscientiousness and integrity.
      The ability to display commitment to a course of action in the face of challenge, to act consistently and in line with understood ethical requirements.

    Source: Higgs and Dulewicz 1999

    "One widely used definition of emotional intelligence is:
    Achieving one's goals though the capabilities to manage one's own feelings and emotions, to be sensitive to the needs of others and influence key people, and to balance one's motives and drives with conscientious and ethical behaviour."

    "One recent move in the measurement of Leadership ability is away from business results and towards assessing the impact of leaders on their followers.
    This view suggests that the real measure of leadership is the ability of leaders to build the capability of their followers"

    Leadership is always about:

    Challenge.      Context.      Capability.