The Difference between Leadership and Management

by Mark Dreistadt | Sep 19, 2016 | Consulting, Leadership

These two terms are often used interchangeably but they are really quite different from one another. The manager’s job is to plan, organize, and coordinate, while the leader’s job is to inspire and motivate. In his 1989 book “On Becoming a Leader,” Warren Bennis composed a list of the distinctions:


  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager thinks short term; the leader thinks long-term.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • A manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager is transactional; the leader is transformational.
  • The manager relies on control; but the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line (and they need to); the leader’s eye is always on the horizon.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.


Leaders need to be managers – and – managers need to be leaders. Determine where you are strong and where you are weak. Never presume because you are a good leader that you are managing well. Neither should you presume that because you are a good manager you are functioning as a good leader. Both skill sets can be learned – and both need to be intentionally cultivated.

Mark Dreistadt

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