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7 Apr 2011

Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part IV)

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Leadership vs. Management: The Difference

I received two related questions in a comment about Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part III). They help us refine the difference further, so I decided to answer them in a post of this continuing series. They are:

  1. How do you determine whether you are a manager or a leader?
  2. Is there an objective way to determine this?

Objectively, it’s much easier to determine if you are a manager than a leader because the former is a designated position in an organizational hierarchy. A leader isn’t necessarily so defined; it’s more subjective. Leadership is not determined objectively. This becomes easier to see if we remember two perspectives:

  1. A leader doesn’t have to be a manager.
  2. A leader can take on many forms.

My post about informal organizational power, which is also a supplement to Part II of this series, clarifies these two perspectives by showing where a non-management leader could derive her influencing power (i.e. expertise, achievements, personality, intelligence, experience). As a result, she could exhibit leadership by initiating a new service, growing an existing one, developing new markets, receiving high service ratings or having great sales.

Now, it’s often true that we describe managers as leaders, but it doesn’t mean they are. Part I of this series discusses this. A manager who is not a leader will have severe problems getting his employees to change behaviors; when they do, their behavior will be more compliant than inspired.

Still, sometimes the only way to know you’re a leader is to turn around and see if someone is following. It’s not unusual to be one and not know it. However, an organization chart clearly states if you’re a manager. This is a vital difference between leadership and management.


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Series Navigation<< Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part III)Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part V) >>

5 Responses

  1. I think this is something which also varies by culture. Some cultures (such as France, and generally speaking, the Francophone countries) will generally not accept any sort of informal leaders based on anything other that which school they went to (because going to those schools more or less ensures your upper-class status, regardless of if you do nothing with it afterward). Those who do not attend those prestigious schools, no matter how well they perform in other areas, can never advance whether formally or informally. French culture is rather closed and heirarchical in this regard. In other cultures which are more open and egalitarian, what you say is very true.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Lynne. In my post regarding specifically to informal power, I cite education specifically as one source of that power. So, your point actually supports mine. Please see my post:

      Informal Organizational Power: Your Personal Influence in Organizations

      I quote: “The source of IOP varies by person. It could be his expertise, knowledge, achievements, attractiveness, personality, education, intelligence, experience, relationships, character, talents, skills, abilities, credibility, reliability, judgment, wisdom, seniority plus many other things.”

      That post explains the concept much more thoroughly than I do here.

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