Management vs Leadership

One common mistake that owners of small businesses make is confusing management with leadership and vice-versa.  We all think that our teams only need us to be great leaders, when in reality they need us to be great managers first.  Without great management, great leadership’s value is significantly diminished. 

Key Differences

So what is the difference? Well, Management is about creating competent and productive people, and managing processes.  Leadership is about creating passionate and focused people. Managers manage processes, Leaders lead people.  Management is a system, Leadership is an art form.

Why You Need Both

Now the reality is that you really need to be both, you just need to make sure you put Management first, creating competent and productive people to lead.  It doesn’t matter how good a leader you are if your team isn’t competent and productive, and it doesn’t matter how good of a manager you are if your people hate working for you and your company.


Now I can already hear you thinking, “But I don’t want to micromanage my team!” and I want to tell you now that you need to eliminate that sort of thinking.  First of all, some team members need to be micromanaged, especially new team members who don’t know how to be competent and productive at your company.  Second, I want you to change your mindset and the words you choose to describe your management.  You are not going to be micro-managing your people, you are going to be managing your processes. 

Management is a system, and you will be teaching your team how to operate in the system to be more competent and more productive.

The easy reply to a team member (usually one who has been around for a while) who complains about being micro-managed is this: “Great, I hate micromanaging too, so that’s why we are going to utilize this new system so that we both get more done without either of us worrying about micromanagement.”

Blending the Two

It’s crucial to blend your management skills with the leadership skills of Passion, Focus, Vision & Mission, Core Values, Listening, and the many other characteristics of great leaders.  Just remember that these skills work best when you are leading competent and productive people.

If you want to learn more about the difference between Management and Leadership, let’s grab a cup of coffee and assess your team’s needs for improvement in each area.

Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY

Learn more about our 12-Week Management Masterclass.

Management vs Leadership