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What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?

Updated on July 14, 2019
tiffany delite profile image

Making sense of life and all of its trauma and sharing some of my thoughts and experiences along the way!

Leadership and Management

Am I a manager? Am I a leader? If it is up to me to answer, my answer is, “Yes.” With all of the information that is available regarding managers and leaders and the differences between the two, it may be easy for one to say that one is either a manager or a leader, period. It is, however, my opinion that every one of us are both leaders and managers, sometimes simultaneously, throughout the courses of our lives.

According to Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith, authors of Learning to Lead , “both a manager and a leader may know the business well, but the leader must know it better and in a different way…Leaders conquer the context – the turbulent, ambiguous surroundings that sometimes seem to conspire against us and will surely suffocate us if we let them – while managers surrender to it.” I think about this quote in the context of my most recent working relationship with Kyle Usrey, former dean of the College of Business, Arts, Sciences, and Education (CBASE) at Friends University, and the CBASE division administrative assistants.

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Leadership Versus Management

Kyle clearly had the leadership role as dean, and I the management role as executive assistant to the dean. As a leader, Kyle understood the functions of our office better and in a different way, from a different perspective, than I did. While I was very knowledgeable about the functions of our office and how it worked with the University as a whole, I simply made sure that the wishes of the dean, acting on behalf of the college, were carried out as efficiently as possible. I did this by switching roles from manager and becoming a leader to the division administrative assistants, who in turn took on the role of managers within their own divisions. In my position as executive assistant to the dean, I had the role of manager in my relationship with Kyle and leader in my relationship with the administrative assistants.

Managing and Leading...Leading and Managing

Gary Vikesland, MA LP CEAP and author of an article titled “Are you a Manager or a Leader?” found at, explains that “a manager basically directs resources to complete predetermined goals or projects…on the other hand, a leader within a company develops individuals in order to complete predetermined goals and projects.” According to Vikesland, both mangers and leaders are working to complete predetermined goals and projects, but a manager is more resource oriented and a leader is more people oriented. I have found, however, in my role as executive assistant to the dean of CBASE, as a mother, and various other management positions I have held that it is important to not only manage resources but develop people as well. In my role at Friends, not only did I manage resources to carry out the predetermined goals as set by the dean on behalf of CBASE, but I also developed individuals by opening up lines of communication through regularly scheduled meetings, a shared drive, and various other methods with the CBASE division assistants. As a mother, I manage resources to sustain my household, but at the same time, develop the individuals that have been entrusted to my care in the form of children. In these scenarios, I am acting both as leader and manager.

Ken Blanchard and Drea Zigarmi, authors of The Leader Within , talk about managers and leaders as “two concepts representing opposite ends of a continuum.” They explain that a “manager typifies the more structured, controlled, analytical, orderly, and rule-oriented end of the continuum” while “the leader end of the continuum connotes a more experimental, visionary, unstructured, flexible, and impassioned side.” Blanchard and Zigarmi go on to explain that “managers and leaders are not the same. They think differently internally, and behave differently externally.” While I agree with this concept, I do not believe that it is so easy to say that certain people are managers and others are leaders. I believe that the continuum is inside each of us, and that we move up and down the “continuum” donning our “manager face” or our “leader face” depending on the circumstances as explained previously by different roles I have played in the same position as executive assistant and as a mother. Certainly, individuals may feel more comfortable or perform better in one role or the other as manager or leader, but it is impossible, in my experience, to ALWAYS be a leader or ALWAYS be a manger.

I like the way country singer John Michael Montgomery states, “Life’s a dance we learn as we go, sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow, don’t worry ‘bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance we learn as we go.” So, as manager, as leader, as follower, as whatever else our life’s journey may bring us to be…remember to dance.

Watch This Video: Leaders vs Managers


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Tiffany Delite


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