Management vs. Leadership Comparative Analysis

Introduction: Management and leadership are two terms that are used a lot in the modern world. But, what do these two terms mean exactly? And what are the key differences between management and leadership? Below, you will find an in depth discussion of management, leadership, and the similarities and differences between them.


Management means controlling or guiding people and resources. Management tends to involve a substantial amount of responsibility.

To manage a team of people, for example, means to be responsible for directing that team of people how to act and ensuring that everyone is doing what they should do.

We most usually find the word management used in the context of the workplace. Managers are people who ensure that everyone is getting their jobs done well and that projects are being completed on time. However, we can also use the word management in other contexts, too. For example, we speak of 'household management to describe the practice of budgeting for our household and keeping everything clean and neat.


Leadership can be related to management, but it is something a little different. A leader is someone who has the power to direct and guide others. Good leadership means being able to inspire people to follow one's lead.

A leader always needs their followers, and the relationship between a leader and their followers is what helps to make leadership so distinct. Leaders are often very charismatic people, with compelling personalities.

Comparison between Management and Leadership

1. The focus on the individual's personality.
Leadership qualities tend to place much more emphasis on the leader's personality. Charisma and a unique, individual personality are all important parts of good leadership. By contrast, a good manager does not need to have these qualities - indeed it is often better if they are not too unique and radical, as being a good manager is often about just getting the job done.

2. Different contexts.
Managers are most often found in the workplace. Leaders, by contrast, can be found not only in the workplace but also in a religious and social context.

3. Relationship with other people.
Managers tend to direct a group of people so that everyone can get a given project done. The relationship a manager has to their team is a functional, often bureaucratic one. Leaders, on the other hand, may have followers that are more like disciples, and the relationship between the leader and their followers may be a much more emotional one.

4. Innate characteristics.
It is sometimes said that being a leader is an innate personality trait, whilst almost anyone can learn to manage a team. Hence universities often offer management courses: these courses are all about creating new managers. However, leaders are often described as being discovered rather than created. True leadership is, the argument goes, not something that one is able to simply learn by rote.

5. Different etymologies.
The etymology of 'management' comes from the Latin word for hand, 'manus'. From 'manus', we derived the Italian word 'maggiore' which means 'to put a horse through its paces' (using our hands). The etymology of leadership, however, comes from the Old Norse word for 'to guide' - 'Laudan'. These differing etymologies offer clues to the different ways in which management and leadership signify in the present day, as well.

6. Historical relations.
The idea of leadership is older than the idea of management. The concept of leadership, and the word leadership, were in existence long before the concept of management and the word management. It may be said that the notion of leadership is a more historically rich one.

7. Morality.
Leaders can be morally good or bad: they can incite people to do good or evil thanks to their charisma. Managers, on the other hand, tend to be thought of as more mundane. In addition, we often think of leaders as more dramatic figures, and this can lead to us judging them in more emotive, moral terms. Religious leaders are a key example of leaders whom we judge as morally good or bad, but political leaders are another example.

8. Place within a hierarchy.
Leaders tend to be at the top of the hierarchy. To be a leader is often seen to be the opposite of being a follower. Either one leads or one is lead: there is no middle ground. Managers, however, may be managed by other people as well as being responsible for managing their team. For example, the figure of the middle manager in an office is a good example of this. Middle managers manage a small team but they have their own managers, further up in the hierarchy.

9. A job vs a vocation.
Management may be said to be a job: something we do to pay the bills; a function we fulfill within a company that we work for. However, leadership can be said to be more of a vocation: something that we do because we feel passionate about it, or because our personality is that of a natural leader rather than simply to make money or because we were told to be a leader by our bosses.

10. Potential for radical change.
It can be argued that true leaders are the source of radical change, thanks to their charisma, boldness, individuality, and ability to inspire people to take action. On the other hand, managers may be said to preserve the status quo, as they work with other people to ensure that projects are completed on time, and according to the dictates of a company director or other person who is in a position high up in the relevant hierarchy.


Many people use the words leadership and management as if they mean the same thing. However, this is not the case at all. As the above discussion shows, there are many significant differences between leadership and management. One key difference is the fact that leadership is often more associated with a radical, unique, charismatic personality making bold moral decisions, whilst management is more about working with others to get a job done in an effective way. How about you? Are you more of a leader or more of a manager? And which would you most like to be?
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