Often when reading about management, the terms leadership and management are used interchangeably. And to be fair, they have may professional traits in common. However, they are not one and the same. While managers can be leaders, and leaders can be managers, they are not equivalent. So, what is the difference between leadership and management? Let’s break them down separately, then explore how they overlap.
What is Management?
When you move into management, you are charged with planning, organizing and effectively executing the resources and duties of a business or department to achieve its defined goals. That usually involves the coordination of financial, material, and human resources to meet those objectives, as well as strong skills in accounting and finance, sales and marketing, project coordination, and written and verbal communication. In most positions, you will also be called on to analyze systems, interpret data, set priorities, solve problems, make important decisions, and resolve conflicts that arise, always with the focus of completing tasks accurately and cost effectively.
When asking “What is management?” it may be helpful to see management as focusing on the nuts and bolts of business – the coordinating of people and resources, broken down into identifiable steps, to accomplish the tangible results an organization has tasked the division or department with for achieving its corporate goals, as well as its profit margins. In doing so, managers direct employee efforts, help personnel adapt to change, and foster teamwork to collectively produce a desired organizational outcome.
What is Leadership?
Senior executives within an organization are often referred to as its leaders. But as many can likely attest, these company officials do not always lead well and may seem detached from their constituents. Leadership, then, is not synonymous with seniority or an advanced role within the organization. Likewise, it isn’t indicative of a particular personality type, such as the charismatic extrovert. So, what is leadership?
Leadership is using social influence to draw out the highest level of commitment, effort and responsibility from others to achieve an identified goal. Rather than being wielded from a place of power or position, this social influence is about personal connection.
Effective leadership is not restricted to one’s employees, but rather to any group or individual that the leader engages in a task to achieve the maximum outcome. You can be a leader almost anywhere: your family, the school board, city council, church, your neighborhood – or your job. And there is no one “type” of person that makes a good leader; rather, there are diverse styles and paths to effective leadership.
What is the Difference Between Leadership and Management?
Perhaps an easy way to distinguish leadership from management is by looking at the focus of each. Leadership relates primarily to inspiring people and seeing the big picture, while management is focused more on overseeing tasks and things.
Leaders may or may not be managers, and managers may or may not be good leaders. When asking “What is the difference between leadership and management?” the management side is more concerned with the here and now, and the “how” of getting the job done and achieving best results. That often involves things like budgeting, weekly planning, scheduling, hiring/firing, resolving conflict, assessing productivity, dealing with everyday problems, writing reports, and other day-to-day tasks.
Leaders also look to achieving best outcomes, but they do so by getting buy-in from the people involved, motivating them to do their best, and helping them take a level of ownership. This involves excellent and consistent communication, leading by example, fostering teamwork, and learning what stirs particular individuals and groups to action. Leaders are also more visionary, looking beyond the immediate task to the overarching mission - how the current effort connects to the ultimate goals of the organization or group.
But leadership and management aren’t mutually exclusive. Ottawa University’s Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Management is designed to close the gap between the two and produce managers who are also good leaders.
What are Leadership Skills?
As we’ve noted, good leaders come from diverse backgrounds and personality types. However, they usually share some specific skills that make them effective. So, to better define a good leader, we need to answer the question, “What are leadership skills?” Here are a few of the most important.
- Adaptability – adapting well to a fast-changing business environment, learning from and being resilient after a failure or setback, and helping your team manage change.
- Emotional Intelligence – recognizing and understanding the personality traits and emotions of those on your team and managing them appropriately; being aware of how your behavior impacts others and how others’ emotions impact you.
- High Ethics & Authenticity – developing and displaying a high level of professionalism and integrity to gain team loyalty, as well as the best form of flattery – imitation; being real with your team as a fellow human being to garner the same response.
- Talent Management – learning the strengths, expectations, and potential of each team member to maximize them for best performance, both individually and collectively, around a shared vision or goal.
- Innovation – exploring different approaches for holistic solutions when solving problems and meeting business goals; also empowering team members to be innovative.
- Servant Leadership - maintaining authority without utilizing the heavy-handed power of your position; getting in the trenches with your team, identifying with their needs and challenges, and tying your success to theirs.
- Forward Thinking – looking beyond the task at hand to assess opportunities for future growth, areas of improvement, and better effectiveness.
- Good Communication – being a good listener, communicating realistic and clear expectations, providing encouragement, striking the right tone, writing clear emails and reports, giving constructive criticism, and more.
While good leaders are often described as having the “it” factor, in reality, most leadership skills can be learned. In Ottawa University’s BA in Leadership and Management program, students develop the skills described above when they examine contemporary and classic leadership theories, investigate successful leadership behaviors across a wide range of environments, and discover the strengths and development needs of their personal leadership style in such courses as:
- Business Ethics
- Leadership of Creativity and Change
- Conflict Resolution
- Leadership and Communication
- Managing Cultural Diversity
- Behavior in Organizations
What are Management Skills?
Likewise, we need to answer the question, “What are management skills?” Dealing more with the efficient and effective operation of an organization or department, there are specific skills that make a good manager.
- Financial Management – coordinating financial resources through planning, budgeting, accounting, and reporting; having an understanding of macro/microeconomics and sales/marketing in the context of achieving an organization’s performance goals.
- Human Resource Management – scheduling, hiring, firing, evaluating performance, matching talent to position, training, and directing employee actions for best outcomes.
- Systems/Data Analysis – consistently reviewing systems and making adjustments for improved outcomes; collecting and analyzing diverse data, including financial, to identify areas for greater effectiveness and efficiency.
- Conflict Resolution – being aware of issues that arise in the workplace and employing emotional intelligence and professional mediating techniques to effectively resolve conflict.
- Strategic Planning and Implementation - continually assessing the strategic goals of the organization/department, often with upper management; making adjustments as needed; and successfully implementing strategies to remain competitive, improve profit margins, and achieve goals.
- Time Management – juggling varied management duties effectively by setting priorities, practicing good record keeping, delegating as needed, and allotting appropriate amounts of time for tasks.
- Good Communication – directing employees, giving and receiving clear feedback, listening well, communicating realistic expectations, using the appropriate tone, giving constructive criticism, writing clear correspondence, and more.
These and other management skills are developed in Ottawa University’s BA in Leadership and Management through such courses as:
- Entrepreneurial Vision & Strategy
- Planning and Budgeting
- Accounting for Business Operations
- Business Mathematics
- Business Statistics
- Seminar in Applied Management
Ottawa University's Leadership and Management Concentrations
Graduates who complete OU’s BA in Leadership and Management gain both the leadership and management skills to stand out in the workplace, whether in business, government, the non-profit sector, or other organizations. By adding a concentration, graduates have an even greater hiring advantage to start their careers. Students in the Bachelor of Arts in Leadership & Management program can personalize their education by selecting one of the following concentrations:
Lead by Example
Start leading today by demonstrating your commitment to education and a better future by enrolling in OU’s BA in Leadership and Management. Our enrollment advisors are here to answer your questions and help you realize your goal of a career in management!
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