It is a common belief that management and leadership are the same role. While it is common that 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 an orginization. By understanding the difference between management and leadership you will become more effective in helping others see the road ahead.
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 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. This is the role of management. 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 in new situations to ensure that the road under construction is still the correct one and is still going in the right direction.
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? To expect to be an effective leader you must present a clear vision and a trail you are willing to walk on first. 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. If you are a leader overseeing 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’s important 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 many others find success as your achieve your own.