‘Road Work Ahead’: The Difference Between Leading and Managing

It is a common belief that management and leadership are the same role. While it is true that often a manager also plays the part of the leader, these two roles are truly separate in function and in the way they add to the success of a team or organization. By understanding the difference between management and leadership you will become more effective in helping others see what lies ahead along the path towards success.

To understand the difference between management and leadership, consider the construction of a new road. To build that road there are workers, machinery and tools which are all essential in the roads construction. Managers help ensure those workers, machinery and tools work together in the most efficient way possible. A manager makes sure those workers are properly trained, competent, motivated, rested and have a clear understanding of the tasks needing to get done. The manager has the same mindset in regards to the tools and the machinery. He or she has to make sure that they are working correctly and that the workers are able to use them efficiently and safely. This is the role of management in a nutshell. On the other hand, a leader makes sure that the road is going in the right direction before the construction begins. That leader also monitors conditions to ensure that the road under construction is still the correct one and that the organization isn’t putting efforts into the wrong place while wasting time and resources.

How does this affect you as a leader? Are you spending your time managing people when you should be making sure that the road ahead is the correct one? As an effective leader, one must present a clear vision and a trail you are willing to walk on first and foremost. While there are times when it is appropriate for a leader to fill a management role, it is crucial to understand the difference between leadership and management so you can be effective no matter which role you happen to be acting in. If you are a leader overseeing other branch managers, it is important that you provide them with the correct perspective so they may be effective in their management role. Don’t manage the managers. Lead them.

If you are not in a formal leadership role, it is also important that you understand that when a leadership opportunity arises there is a difference between being a leader and managing the effort. Even if you end up filling both sets of shoes it is key to understand the difference in roles in order to fill them effectively. If, on the other hand, you learn how to lead by showing people that you are walking down the right road, you will become a natural leader and will be able to help your team find their correct road to success.

Published by Zachary Paul Hoffman

I am a former professional athlete, tri-lingual, Italian/American duel-citizen and aspiring modern-day leadership development expert.

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