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21 Apr 2011

Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part V)

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Leadership vs. Management: The Difference

In a comment about Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part III), the commenter described a situation in which she felt certain managers above her did not view her as a leader while her people did. This observation highlights three important aspects of the difference between leadership and management:

  1. Leadership is more subjective than management
  2. Tension can exist between leaders and managers
  3. The difference between the two is more than academic

Point #1 combines the concepts from Part II and III of this series, by first saying that leaders can exist outside of the formal organizational structure and by second showing that the connection between leaders and group members is an emotional one. Contrastingly, managers exist within the formal organizational hierarchy. Their relationships to members are pragmatic via the authority organizations give them. Again, leaders don’t need endorsement by the organization.

Point #2 describes the byproduct of these differences as tension between the two. Managers might resent the influence of leaders because they often have more informal organizational power than managers do. Subconsciously, managers might wonder, “If it weren’t for the authority granted to me by the organization, would anyone listen to me?” For example, an older experienced employee who’s valued by her peers might intimidate a young manager on a deeper level.

Point #3 reminds us that when we discuss the difference between leadership and management, we must ask, “How is the difference displayed and felt in the workplace?” This roots our discussion in the real world. Our commenter’s experience reminds us that the difference is more than academic.

In summary, the difference between leadership and management can be a source of tension among individuals in any organization. The emotional and informal aspects of leadership create the potential for it.


Series Navigation<< Leadership vs. Management: The Difference (Part IV)Aligned Leadership And The Leadership vs Management Debate >>

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