What is the Difference between Leadership and Management?

Posted by: Nigel Girling Post Date: 23rd October 2014

Leadership and management often go hand in hand, so much so that any distinction can be forgotten. The two concepts aren’t synonymous, though. With the conduct of influential organisations, from the NHS to Tesco, causing scandal in the headlines, the behavior of those at the top is being scrutinized more than ever, and the difference between leadership and management is being called into question.

At Babington, we believe there are some crucial differences between leadership and management, but that they necessarily overlap. Any leader needs to be a manager some of the time, and managers often need to be leaders too. It isn’t so much to do with job title as with approaches to influencing groups of people, and the different approaches can be developed through leadership and management mentoring programmes.

So, what is the difference between leadership and management?


What is the Difference between Leadership and Management?


At the most basic level, someone who is taking on a management role organises, controls, monitors and coordinates. The aim is not to drastically change the way things are done, but to keep them consistent, and to ensure tried and tested methods are preserved.

A manager tends to be focused on tasks, deadlines, and targets. Both processes and goals have been laid out beforehand, and innovation is only called for when unforeseen problems arise.


Management relies on authoritarian control, with clearly delineated relationships between the person in a position of authority, and his or her subordinates. Extensive feedback and innovation is not required from team members; instead, they are expected to be compliant and work in line with the instructions given.

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The same person may need to be able to adopt a leadership approach at other times. The job of a leader is to provide inspiration, motivation, mentoring, empowerment, and a compelling vision of the way ahead.


Rather than having subordinates, a leader has followers, whose loyalty is more down to trust than obligation. Rather than maintaining processes, leaders innovate to find ever more effective ways of achieving goals.

But it’s not only the leader who innovates. Leaders encourage team members to think outside the box, and to contribute ideas that help everyone progress towards the shared vision.

So, the difference between leadership and management isn’t that of two different roles, but of two approaches. While one is focused on getting things done, the other is about building performance and capability for the future. Most people in senior positions need to both manage and lead at different times. While some situations call for order to be maintained, and a clear figure of authority, others require fresh insight, and a transformation of attitudes.

We offer a range of leadership and management courses that enable leaders at all levels to flourish. To find out more about developing yourself both as a manager and a leader, get in touch below.

Our leadership and management programmes develop your ability to manage from both above and below. 

Get in touch below to find out how, or call us on

01332 613 688

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