Difference between Leadership and Management

The Difference Between Leadership And Management

Many people think management and leadership are the same role. There are times that the same person will play both roles, but these two roles are truly separate in function and in the way they add to the success of an orginization. By understanding the difference between leadership and management, you will become more effective in helping others see the road ahead.


To help 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 vital in the road’s construction. Managers help ensure those workers, machinery and tools work together in the most efficient way possible. A manager makes sure those workers are well-trained, motivated, rested and that they know what they’re supposed to do next. The manager does the same thing with the tools and the machinery to make sure that they’re working correctly and that the workers are able to use them efficiently and safely. Managers have nothing to manage without someone putting in time making proper preparations. That is the role of the leader.


A leader plans ahead to ensure necessary resources are gathered and ready. A leader makes sure that the road is going in the right direction before the construction begins. There is thought and planning that goes into building the road before the manager has something to manage.  That leader also monitors changing conditions and new situations that arise to ensure that the road under construction is still the correct one and is still going in the right direction.  In building the road, you may come to hill you didn’t plan for. It is the leaders role to decide what to do next: continue the road over the hill, or possibly around the hill. A leader is responsible for the big picture vision, the manager takes practical steps to accomplish the vision.


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 one that you want to be on? Leaders are responsible for planning the path, for setting and sharing the vision. To be an effective leader you must present a clear vision. In order for the road to be constructed properly, the right planning needs to be put into the project.

While there are times when it is appropriate for a leader to fill a management role, it is vital to understand the difference between leadership and management so you can be effective no matter which role you happen to be filling at a given time. There is time to plan, dream, and develop vision, and there is time to implement the vision. If you are a leader overseeing managers (or a team of volunteers), 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.

Are you a manager or a leader?

While leaders and managers have different roles and responsibilities, sometimes the terminology we use to identify these roles may change.  A leader may be known as a pastor, director, boss.  A manager may be known as a volunteer, assistant, or team member.

You may not be in a formal leadership role, but you should be able recognize when a leadership opportunity arises there is a difference between being a leader and managing the effort. If you are like me, you will often end up filling both sets of shoes so it’s important to understand the difference in roles in order to fill them effectively. If you learn how to lead by showing people that you are walking down the right road (sharing the vision), you will become a natural leader and will be able to help many others find success as your achieve your own.

What about you?

So where do you fall on the management vs leader spectrum?  Are you more of a manager or a leader?  How do you handle filling both roles?  Have any leadership or management tips?  Post a comment and let us know

About the Author

Ron is happily married to his best friend, and dad to the best daughter you could imagine. As a teacher and children's pastor, he has over 20 years experience of teaching, leading, writing, creating and consulting. He has written for churches, contributed to several collaborative publications, and written a #1 Best Selling Devotional, Got Fruit? on Amazon. His blog is consistantly listed in the Top 40 Children's Ministry Blogs and Websites. Don't hesitate to ask if you think he could help you and your ministry in any way.

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