The Difference Between Leadership and Management

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Management and Leadership are fundamental concepts that are associated with the effective management of an organization. Management can be a formal position of power, independent of personal qualities. Leadership is a more complex concept that includes the effective and real influence on people, regardless of hierarchical status. Many authors have attempted to separate these two concepts, using the word “headship” as opposed to “leadership” but, unfortunately, in many theories, the concepts of “management” and “leadership” remain equivalent.

Management and Leadership styles are becoming more and more in focus in modern organizational thinking and development where the organization needs to adjust to rapid changes. The preferred style depends on many factors like the skills of the manager/leader, the skills and abilities of the staff, and the situation that the team is operating within. The final result of the work depends on whether the manager can organize people to achieve the necessary results and at the same time to ensure that the subordinates are satisfied with their work.

An inappropriately chosen style may lead to conflicts that can destroy the team and create a tense atmosphere in the enterprise. But the complete absence of conflicts is also bad, sometimes they are a stimulus to resolve many problems. Therefore, it is very important for the manager to correctly assess the existing working conditions, selected personnel, the specifics of the task, and, based on this, build a management model. The problem of leadership and management has been studied by scientists from different countries for more than a hundred years. During this time a lot of experiments have been carried out. These are the works of J. MacGregor, K. Levine, R. Burns, R. Tucker, B. Kellerman, J. Page. This article will address and compare fundamental definitions of leadership and management, the specific types of skills for the manager and the leader, and discuss the similarities and differences between management and leadership.


Theoretical Aspects Of Leadership And Management Styles

Leadership Style

Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how to do it, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish shared objectives.[1] Leadership power is the ability to influence the behaviour of others with or without resistance by using a variety of tactics. The leader needs power because often he is dependent on people who are not subordinates i.e. employees of other departments and organizations and customers.

Subordinates often copy the behaviour of the leader. If the leader takes responsibility, makes bold decisions, and admits mistakes honestly, then subordinates act in a similar way. It takes a long period to gain power and prestige. But the gained authority can be lost in a very short period of time. And the main reasons for the loss of authority are the inaction and short-sightedness of the leader. It should be noted that mistakes practically do not affect the authority of the leader, since no one is immune from them, and they can be corrected by joint efforts. As a rule, an authoritative leader is a recognized leader. A legitimate question arises. If you put an intelligent, smart, well-trained specialist at the head of an enterprise, can this specialist become an authoritative leader? What qualities should a person who claims to be a leader have?

Quality Groups:

There are three groups of such qualities: personal, professional, organizational.

Personal qualities primarily include honesty and decency, which always presuppose the observance of general human morality and justice about others. The leader should try to understand his subordinates, see them as individuals and understand their behaviour, and strive for cooperation taking into account the interests of everyone.

Another group of qualities necessary for any leader is professionalism. This is competence, special knowledge, and practical skills. This knowledge consists of different topics - general, technical, economic, legal, informational, psychological, and pedagogical. Leaders should be efficient: set tasks clearly and on time, make justified decisions, and be efficient in actions and deeds.

The last group of qualities of a leader is organizational. The dynamism and impulsiveness of modern life require the leader to be able to set clear, reasonable, and achievable goals. The leader must carefully consider the ways to achieve the goal, and be able to make decisions quickly and correctly. Otherwise, profitable transactions may not take place, good chances and opportunities may be missed, time will be wasted.

For all three groups, an important trait of a leader is realism. The leader must be able to correctly assess their own capabilities and the capabilities of his subordinates and their actions, then it will not hurt so much to fall in case of failure. But the most important thing is that a leader must have the ability to manage and support the work of the team, be ready for action and risk. The leader must be able to determine the scope of the authority, the ability to act independently and gain respect from other people. The research of the American scientist Bart Nanus is of great interest. Thus, he singles out seven skills of an effective leader (Table 1).

Table 1. Seven Essential Leadership Skills by Bart Nanus[2]
Skill Explanation
Farsightedness A strong leader’s mind operates in the future tense, always searching for opportunities and threats, always asking, “what if?” and “why not?” and “so what?” He pays attention to the past and present to determine their implications for the future. It means keeping the eye firmly fixed on the far horizon while taking steps toward it.
Mastery Of Interdependence You want the community to have the sense they are successful when others succeed and are oriented toward aiding others to perform effectively.

Nothing is so energizing as a godly leader who is able to forge talented individuals into a team for which each is willing to do his very best for God and the greater good of others.

Anticipatory Learning Every leader should understand his own strengths and weaknesses, seek to improve where possible, and maximize learning from failures and successes.
High Standards Of Integrity There can be no trust unless the leader is trustworthy – dependable, reliable, honest, and honourable.
Organizational Design The leader establishes policy guidelines that include performance and standards. This includes putting together the right team or staff, providing for needed resources, following through on performance, evaluations, and altering goals and directions as needed.
Takes Initiative The leader is motivated and takes the initiative. they don’t wait to be told, managed, or led.
Mastery Of Change The leader sees problems as dynamic situations that offer opportunities for progressive transformation or containment.

Theory Of Leadership

Leadership is a formal or informal contextually rooted and goal-influencing process that occurs between a leader and a follower, groups of followers, or institutions.[3] Regarding its distinction from management, leadership is purpose-driven based on values, ideals, vision, symbols, and emotional exchanges, while management is task-driven, resulting in stability grounded in rationality, bureaucratic means, and the fulfilment of contractual obligations.[4] Leadership theory is the earliest approach to study in explaining how and why certain people become leaders. According to personality theory[5], the best leaders have a certain set of stable and unchanging personal qualities that distinguish them from non-leaders. This approach was based on the belief that great leaders are born, not made.

Leadership Concepts

In response to the early criticisms of the trait approach, theorists began to research leadership as a set of behaviours, evaluating the behaviour of successful leaders, determining a behaviour taxonomy, and identifying broad leadership styles.[6] This approach created the basis for classifying leadership styles. According to [situational theory][7], efficiency is determined not by the personal qualities of the leader, but by the manner of behaviour to subordinates.

Behavioral And Style Theories

The behavioural approach[8] has deepened the understanding of leadership by focusing on the behaviour of a leader who wants to motivate people to achieve the goals of the organization. Its main weakness was its tendency to assume that there is one optimal leadership style. However, there is no single "best" style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant, and the most successful leaders are those who adapt their leadership style to the performance readiness (ability and willingness) of the individual or group they are attempting to lead or influence. Effective leadership varies, not only with the person or group that is being influenced, but it also depends on the task, job, or function that needs to be accomplished.[9]

The most well-known concepts of this type are:

  • Kurt Lewin Leadership Styles Experiment
  • Studies by Ohio State University and the University of Michigan
  • Likert's management systems
  • Managerial grid model
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Substitutes for Leadership Theory

Concepts Of Situational And Contingency Theories

The failures that befell traditional concepts in defining a universal style of effective leadership have prompted scientists to develop new approaches to the study of leadership. The situational approach[10] leadership examines the interaction between various situational variables to find cause and effect relationships that allow one to predict the leader's possible behaviour and the consequences of that.

The most well-known concepts of this type are:

  • Tannenbaum and Schmidt's Leadership Behavior Continuum
  • Fiedler's Contingency Theory of Leadership
  • Path-Goal Theory by House and Mitchell
  • Stinson-Johnson situational leadership
  • The Vroom-Yetton Decision Model

It is also customary to distinguish between the concepts of a leader and a manager as an informal and formal leader, respectively. Informal leadership is the ability or skill of a person to influence the behaviour of others by means other than formal authority. The power of influence comes from the recognition by others of the leader's superiority. Formal leadership is a circumstance in which an individual is the officially recognized head of a group or organization. The formal leader has the support of official authority and operates in a specific area assigned to him. An informal leader is promoted due to his ability to influence others by personal qualities.

Management Style

A management style is the particular way managers go about accomplishing these objectives. It encompasses the way they make decisions, how they plan and organize work, and how they exercise authority.[11] Management styles vary by company, level of management, and even from person to person. A good manager can adjust their management style to suit different environments and employees. An individual’s management style is shaped by many different factors including internal and external business environments, and how one views the role of work in the lives of employees.[12] The style of the manager may vary depending on the prevailing characteristics and needs of the team. The working style of subordinates depends on the intellect of the manager. This article will only focus on the three most common management styles thus leaving other newer styles out of the analysis.

Types Of Management Styles


This style is characterized by high centralization of power and persuasiveness. The position of the manager is outside the group, he gives short, clear, businesslike orders with top-down one-way communication to the employees. The actions of subordinates are strictly controlled, the manager does not allow them to take the initiative. The interests of the company are put much higher than the interests of people. The manager maintains a distance in relations with subordinates and informs them only of those facts that they must know to fulfil their tasks. The prevailing management methods are orders, reprimands, and deprivation of various benefits. The manager intends to simplify the goals, break them down into smaller ones, and set a separate task for each subordinate, which makes it easy to control its execution. The hierarchy in such organizations is, as a rule, very strict, where management makes all of the decisions based on positioning. The authoritarian style of management is considered justified in a crisis (war, natural disaster, crisis in a company) when decisions need to be applied quickly to guarantee reliable control.

[Theory X by Douglas McGregor] says that the average human being is lazy and self-centred, lacks ambition, dislikes change, and longs to be told what to do.[13]

The advantages of the authoritarian style consist of:

  • success in everyday, ordinary work that does not require creativity and innovation, and the main forces are directed to the number of products produced
  • ensuring clarity of management, which allows faster production decisions to minimize costs

The disadvantages of the authoritarian style consist of:

  • suppression of the initiative and creative potential of subordinates, weak motivation, lack of effective incentives for work

The democratic style of management is characterized by the distribution of authority, responsibility, and initiative between the manager and subordinates. The leader always finds out the opinion of the team on important issues, makes collective decisions. The leader deliberately decentralizes his power, does not impose his will, and most often delegates his powers to subordinates as far as possible. Communication takes place in a friendly, polite, comradely tone, in the form of requests, advice, and wishes. All further actions are discussed in the team, as the manager is aware that it’s impossible to know and foresee everything.

[Theory Y by Douglas McGregor] maintains that human beings are active rather than passive shapers of themselves and of their environment. They long to grow and assume responsibility. The best way to manage them is to manage as little as possible.[13] Usually, the democratic management style is used when the employees are well skilled in the work they perform and can creatively approach it from all sides, bringing innovation.

The advantages of the authoritarian style consist of:

  • allows solving non-standard tasks that require a creative approach;
  • a favourable psychological climate is created in the organization's team, which makes it possible to use the psychological mechanisms of motivating subordinates more effectively;
  • the manager is exempt from accepting insignificant, non-principled issues of the organization's activities;
  • a caring attitude on the part of the manager, allows you to combine exactingness with a willingness to help subordinates;

However, the democratic management style should not be applied if the team is not well-established, the workers are not sufficiently qualified and active, and the production is not based on extreme conditions. Also, these styles require a lot of time to develop and agree on a management decision, fraught with the danger of weakening control, sometimes even leading to irresponsibility.


This style is characterized by little or no interference from management. The staff do not need supervision and are highly skilled which allows management to take the hand’s off approach and leave the problem solving, and decision making to the staff. [14] The style is closely linked with Mayo's Human Relation view of motivation and also the social needs of Maslow. With such delegation of authority, the employees' own initiative is supported, the manager only creates the necessary organizational conditions for their work. Thus, the manager is in the role of a consultant and an expert evaluating the final results. The effectiveness of this style depends on the aspirations of subordinates and the manager’s fairness in evaluation results. This style of management is good if the team is staffed by highly qualified specialists, and they perform creative or individual work.

The advantages of the Laissez-faire style consist of:

  • subordinates are given significant freedom of action, the initiative of subordinates is not suppressed, they are spared from constant control;
  • subordinates most often have a sufficiently broad awareness of the state of affairs in the team, as well as the prospects for its development;
  • work in such a team brings satisfaction to employees and creates a favourable psychological climate;
  • the head is maximally unloaded, subordinates are transferred responsibility for actions;
  • high work motivation of the employees

A paternalistic manager should master the principle of delegation of authority, maintain good relations with informal leaders, be able to set tasks correctly and determine the main areas of work and coordinate the interaction of employees to achieve common goals.

Table 2. Comparison of management qualities
Personality Dimension Autocratic Democratic Laissez-Faire
Decision Making senior managers take all the important decisions with no involvement from workers managers make decisions in the best interests of workers after consultation workers allowed to make their own decisions some businesses run on the basis of majority decisions
Focus task-oriented mixed people
Delegation Of Authority rare good complete
Superior-Subordinate Communication orders, commands offer guidance and suggestions provides little or no direction
Responsibility on manager shared individual
Initiative suppressed encouraged handed over to subordinates
Qualified Personnel suppressed benefit from if fully autonomy
Communication downward and one way both ways free flow
Relationships With Subordinates depending on the mood demeanour with everyone as equals gentle demeanour
Discipline strict and formalized discipline cooperative self-imposed
Motivation punishment is the main method of stimulation rewards self-motivated

Difference Between Leadership And Management

Warren Bennis famously wrote in his book “On Becoming a Leader” that a manager does things right and leaders do the right thing.[15]

Management takes place in the system of formal (or official) relations, and leadership is a product of the system of informal (informal) relations. Leadership and management, along with communication and decision-making, are essential components of a management system. Management is the mental and physical activity of the leader, the purpose of which is the performance by subordinates of the actions prescribed by them and the solution of certain tasks. Leadership is the process by which one person influences another person or group. Leadership can also be viewed as a socio-psychological phenomenon.

It has been observed that a significant group of managers possesses many leadership qualities. However, the opposite option is less common in real life. There is a difference between formal leadership, where influence comes from an official position in an organization, and natural leadership, where influence comes from others recognizing the leader's personal superiority. The leader regulates interpersonal relations in the group, and the manager regulates the formal relations by providing the resources and training employees need to succeed. Leadership is a psychological characteristic of the behaviour of individual members of a group, while management is a social characteristic of relations in a group, and primarily in terms of the distribution of management and subordination roles. In contrast to leadership, management acts as a legal process regulated by society.

A manager is a person who directs the work of others and bears personal responsibility for its results. A good manager brings order and consistency to the work that is done. The leader inspires people and instils enthusiasm in employees, conveying their own vision of the future and helping them to go through the stage of change. Managers tend to take a passive stance toward goals. Often, they rely on someone else's goals and rarely use them to make a change. Leaders, on the other hand, set their own goals and use them to change people's attitudes towards the cause. Managers prefer to order in their interactions with subordinates. They build their relationships with them according to their roles. This is largely due to the fact that managers see themselves as a certain part of the organization or members of a particular social institution. Leaders select and keep people who understand and share their views and ideas reflected in the leadership vision.

Leaders take into account the needs of employees, the values they perceive, and the emotions that drive them. Leaders tend to use emotions and intuition and are always ready to evoke strong feelings in their followers such as love and hate. Leaders do not associate self-respect with belonging to a particular organization. Managers ensure that subordinates achieve goals by monitoring their behaviour and reacting to every deviation from the plan. Leaders build their relationship with their subordinates on trust, motivating and inspiring them. Managers use their professionalism based on past experiences to solve a problem in the area of decision-making. Leaders, on the other hand, are constantly trying to develop new and ambiguous solutions to a problem.

However, despite these differences, both the leader and the manager are dealing with the same type of problems associated with stimulating the organization's personnel and aiming them at solving certain problems. The most successful combination in the practice of management is the combination of a leader and a manager in one person. Thus, there is a certain similarity between the concepts of leadership and management, which is manifested in the fact that both categories: “Leadership” and “Management” are subjects of management, implement the processes of social influence, and determine the subordination of relations.

Practical Approach

The main difference between these concepts is that management is a social phenomenon, the manager is called upon to regulate official relations. The leader becomes the head of the organization as a result of the intentional action of the formal organization - the delegation of authority, his competence includes the official relations of the group. Leadership is a psychological phenomenon, that is, the leader regulates interpersonal relations (informal) in the group.

It is difficult to make a guideline on using either Leadership style or Management style. It is very dependent on the person in charge as well as the people or organisations that need to be managed. In general, it can be argued that styles work best when both the leader and the organisation have a consensus on the style/approach as both styles can generate the results needed in the particular situation.

John Kotter, a professor of the Harvard Business School stated that “Leadership is different from management, but not for the reason most people think. Leadership is not mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having charisma or other exotic personality traits. It’s not the province of a chosen few. Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it: rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment.”[10]

Annotated bibliography

Conceptualisation of management and leadership

The findings of the literature review demonstrated that the concepts of management and leadership are intertwined. Implications of the findings of the study include debate regarding how practising managers can know what is expected of them if the literature is unclear on the distinction between these concepts, and playing down the demonstrated need and relevance of management.

Are Leadership and Management Different? A Review by Dr. Ali Algahtani

This publication provides a summary of the most historically well-known comparison between leaders and managers. The findings of this review showed that management and leadership are two very distinct functions. Although, management and leadership do share many similar duties consisting of working with people and influencing others to achieve goals. Management skills are used to plan, build, and direct organizational systems to accomplish missions and goals, while leadership skills are used to focus on a potential change by establishing direction, aligning people, and motivating and inspiring.

A Handbook of Management and Leadership: A Guide to Managing for Results

A book provides a complete presentation of topics that students and aspiring managers can use as guidance to develop management skills and effective leadership.


  1. Yukl, Gary. "Leadership: What is it?" Cases in Leadership (3rd. ed. pp. 1–42). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (2012).
  2. Nanus, Burt. The leader's edge: The seven keys to leadership in a turbulent world. McGraw-Hill/Contemporary, 1989.
  3. Antonakis, J., and D. V. Day. 2017. The Nature of Leadership. Thousand Oaks: Sage publications.
  4. Bryman, A. 1992. Charisma and Leadership in Organizations. London: Sage Publications.
  5. Judge, Timothy A., et al. "Personality and leadership: a qualitative and quantitative review." Journal of applied psychology 87.4 (2002): 765.
  6. Spillane (2004)
  7. Waller, David J., Steven R. Smith, and John T. Warnock. "Situational theory of leadership." American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 46.11 (1989): 2336-2341.).
  8. Ashour, Ahmed Sakr. "A framework of a cognitive—Behavioral theory of leader influence and effectiveness." Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 30.3 (1982): 407-430.
  9. Hersey, P. and Blanchard, K. H. (1977). Management of Organizational Behavior 3rd Edition– Utilizing Human Resources. New Jersey/Prentice Hall.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kotter, J. P. (1990b). A force for change: How leadership differs from management. New York, NY: Free Press.
  11. "Understanding Management and Leadership Styles". Chartered Management Institute. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  12. "Management Styles Explained". Films on Demand. Films Media Group. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Aithal, P. S., and P. M. Kumar. "Comparative analysis of theory X, theory Y, theory Z, and Theory A for managing people and performance." International Journal of Scientific Research and Modern Education (IJSRME) 1.1 (2016): 803-812.
  14. Films on Demand. Films Media Group. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  15. Bennis, Warren, and Burt Nanus. "The strategies for taking charge." Leaders, New York: Harper. Row 41 (1985).
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