It’s a question that we’re often asked; what is the difference between managing and leading? Below is a list of characteristics and responsibilities that we think of for both managers and leaders. I find it valuable to compare and contrast between two lists and to reflect on where the overlaps might be. At the end of the day, leadership is about inspiring and aligning a team around a compelling objective. Management is about ensuring people stay focused on accomplishing what needs to be done.


  • Ensure that a group of individuals is held accountable for delivering against a specific set of objectives
  • Tend to be more task-oriented
  • Develop the team to ensure that things run smoothly and that they have equitable distribution of workload amongst the members
  • Measure performance and output because they have the authority and responsibility to do so
  • Create tactical plans to deliver against their functional area’s pre-defined deliverables


  • Inspire a team to deliver superior results that are more than what they could do together
  • Tend to focus on alignment, culture and strategy
  • Develop the team to help prepare them for broader accountability and more opportunity
  • Create an environment of camaraderie and a will to win against external competitors because they have the charisma and insight to motivate others
  • Create vision and strategy; help members of the team feel ownership of and alignment with that strategic direction

In the final analysis, what is the fundamental difference between the two roles? What are the overlaps? Do you believe that you need to be both in your organization? In your specific role? Management and leadership are both vital and provide a competitive advantage.

What do you think is the biggest difference between management and leadership? Tell us below or send us a message.


Photo from Dollar Photo Club