Management vs Leadership – What’s the Difference?

Management vs Leadership

These “Covid-times”, as they’re less than affectionately being called, have taught each of us a lot. A lot about ourselves; about community; about what’s important in life. But, to bring it to the workplace specifically, the past year has taught many people a lot about both management and leadership.

Now, this isn’t going to be one of those “lead from the front” motivational speeches. More a musing, if you like, about what’s really set some businesses apart throughout this pandemic. And it’s not your bottom line.

It’s your people.

The management vs leadership debate is far-reaching, long-running and ongoing. Does a good manager automatically make a good leader? Vice versa? Can somebody be both?

The answer is entirely ambiguous, and very much depends on who you have in that position. It depends on how that person sees the world, their approach to the work they do and, importantly, their values in the face of adversity.

Management vs Leadership – what’s the difference?

As with many things, there’s a large amount of overlap between the two.

In the face of a global pandemic, businesses have required strong managers who could adapt to various (and seemingly continuous) unprecedented challenges. Who could face down obstacles and manoeuvre through previously unthought of trials, against all odds. Who understood what their capabilities, resources and budgets looked like, and could arrange their teams into positions of strength to their very best ability against these.

Then, with many a crisis averted, it became time for leadership to take centre stage: what is the plan here and, importantly, how do we achieve it? Leadership means asking questions about the future, what it might look like, and creating a vision to get there. It means innovating to create solutions, resources, new ways of excelling. Creating change, rather than waiting and responding; providing the belief, support and energy behind doing so.

Managers are the talented individuals, problem solvers, who have been organising their workforces to navigate the pandemic. Leaders are the ones explaining why they’re doing so, offering motivation and inspiration along the way.

So, you can see why they’re both incredibly important.

Management vs Leadership – why does it matter?

For any business, it’s crucial to define these two attributes across your staff and ensure they’re able to work in unison. Likelihood is, they’ll be found in the same person. But there needs to be a strong mixture of the two to facilitate success, particularly in times like these we’ve experienced during the pandemic.

One without the other is merely arrangements or empty words. Without leadership skills, a manager may do their job and maintain results at the same level indefinitely, with no forward progress or movement. Without management skills, a leader might be seen as saying all the right things, with nothing to back it up.

Their relationship is co-dependent, and one without the other leaves something to be desired.

If the pandemic was good for one thing, it’s bringing out the best in people. We’ve all seen a huge shift in the way we work, the way we communicate, the things we value in the workplace. In our experience, there’s been a massive impact in terms of understanding the importance of the people who work for our businesses.

We’re proud to have navigated the pandemic ourselves but, moreover, we’re excited to see so many amazing Melbourne businesses doing the same, with strong managers and incredible leaders at the helm. When the going gets tough, it’s your people who will pull you through – managers, leaders, those who do both, and everyone in between.

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