4 Key Differences Between Leadership and Management

Management and leadership are popular terms in business. Every business needs leaders and managers to succeed. But because of the nature of their roles, many people confuse the two. Understanding the difference between leader and manager can help you in evaluating yourself. If you want to advance your career, it would be best to figure out which skills you need and for what purpose.

And you can do that only after understanding the difference between the two. While leadership is about showing a vision and leading the company there, management is about running the day-to-day activities properly. Each of them is valuable, and an organization can’t succeed in the absence of either of them.

However, you can’t replace one with another. Although management and leadership are not the same, they work great only when used together.

Difference Between Leadership and Management

Although both of the terms seem synonymous, there are plenty of differences between the two. Here are the most prominent ones:

Differences in Definition

What is Leadership?

Leaders inspire people to change. A leader is supposed to help his or her followers with the problems they face. Leadership is a combination of right skills. Leadership requires you to build trust with people and show them a path. One of the most popular leaders currently is Elon Musk. He is hailed as a leader in his organization because of his ability to inspire people.


It is a quality which a few people possess. People follow these leaders because this quality requires the person to have a strong vision.

What is Management?

Management is the coordination and organization of activities to achieve specific goals. Management is about organizing, planning, directing, and controlling the resources of the organization. Management is present everywhere. You can see it in homes, schools, offices, and companies. When a teacher is organizing the study plans, creating the study plans, and directing the co-teachers on how to help other students, it’d be called management.


Management is about planning and organizing people. Management requires leadership in some instances too. Few programs that can help you increase your knowledge in the field of management are Product Management, Entrepreneurship, marketing and many more. upGrad provides many management courses that can be of your help, like- PG Program-Specialisation in Sales and Digital Marketing, Product Management Certifcation Program.

Differences in Focus


A leader focuses on encouraging his or her followers. Like we mentioned in the definition, a leader has to inspire people to change. And to do that, the leader has to encourage people to take action.

A leader is supposed to bring changes in the lives of his followers. And without taking action, one can’t see any difference.

That’s why a leader focuses on encouraging his followers to take action. He shows them what they will do and why.


Unlike a leader, who focuses on encouraging his people to take action, a manager focuses on organizing the same.

So, a leader inspires action, whereas a manager sees that the action takes place optimally. The manager tells his people when they will do specific tasks. He also focuses on keeping the status quo maintained. He ensures that all the activities take place as they are supposed to. A manager tells his subordinates how they will do something.

Difference in Basis

Based on Trust 

Leadership is based on trust. A leader can’t function if his followers don’t trust him. A leader has to ensure that his followers don’t doubt him.

And in case any doubts arise, the leader focuses on answering them help the followers in staying focused on their goals. Trust is built in numerous ways. For example, Elon Musk built trust among his employees through leading by example.

Based on Control 

Management is based on control. A manager has to control his subordinates to ensure that they are functioning correctly.

A manager exercises control over his subordinates. He assigns them tasks and responsibilities. Without control, management isn’t possible. A manager should understand his subordinates properly to bring out the best in them. Exercising control helps the manager in this regard.

Difference in Roles

Role of a Leader 

A leader has a vision, and he shows that to his followers. The leader brings change to the lives of the people. He inspires his followers by promising change. That’s why all great politicians are great leaders too.

Great politicians always give a vision to their followers and help them achieve the same. Leaders bring change to the lives of their followers. They give direction to them as to where they will head together.

Role of a Manager

A manager has to make the best use of every available resource, including his subordinates. He ensures that his team achieves the desired results win the best possible way.

Managers are problem-solvers. They react to the arising hurdles. Apart from that, managers have to maintain stability, unlike leaders who might change the status quo.

Which One are you ?

You could be a leader as well as a manager. You can’t separate leadership and management because it can lead to chaos. A manager should know about leadership; however, a leader doesn’t need to be always a manager.

Every company needs a manager who can plan, organize, and conduct its daily activities and a leader who can inspire its people and motive them to give their best. In the absence of one, the other will tarnish.

But which one are you?

To figure that you, take the help of the following points:

  •         Do people come to you automatically for advice?

 A rule of thumb to figure whether you’re more of a leader or a manager is to see how many people outside of your hierarchy come to you for advice.

  •         If the number is high, then you’re more of a leader.

Do people trust your opinions more than others?

 Leaders build trust among their followers. If many people trust your opinions and you influence their opinions, then you’re more of a leader.

  •         Do you inspire, or do you control?

 If you’re authoritative, you’d be more of a manager. But if you inspire people through leading by example, you’d be more of a leader.

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Both are Important.

It’s an undeniable fact that leadership is just as important as management. If a person has both of these qualities, then he’s like a superhero. Companies need people who have these skills. So developing them can go a long way in helping your career.

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What is leadership in an MBA?

Leadership in MBA is a quality that is honed by people who thereby inspire their team towards the right direction. It is a process that involves persuading people to work together in achieving the objectives. Such a person is known as a leader. A leader promotes innovation and talent development and focuses on interpersonal relationships. A leader is also a fearless motivator and is not likely to be hesitant to take calculated risks ensuring high rewards for the organisation. Leadership promotes vision, honesty, and inspiration. A true leader also focuses on trustworthiness for his team and effective communication.

How is management defined in an MBA?

Management in MBA is a technique to deal with different age groups and situations to work together for achieving a common objective. A manager is in charge of all the activities of management in an organisation. Managers are responsible for handling daily operations and working at the implementation and delivery levels. Managers need the ability to create a vision and the ability to direct. They can be in charge of process management. Managers are people focused with multiple skills like people management skills, communication skills, technical skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, etc.

What are the main differences between leadership and management?

Leadership is essentially a part of effective management. It is a crucial component of management. Leadership and management are two different ways of how teams are organised. While leadership is about setting a new direction, management is about the arrangement and managing of the workforce. However, managers play the role of a leader too. So, as such, they both go hand in hand as a complement to each other. An organisation needs both equally for its growth and survival. Leaders are known to create a vision, whereas managers focus on setting, measuring, and achieving goals. Leaders initiate risk-taking, whereas managers control risk.

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