Definition of leadership vs management

Definition of Leadership vs Management

The definition of leadership vs management is often confused. While there are a lot of overlaps, the two have distinct attributes.

Think of management as the act of directing or ensuring the said is work is done within timelines. It focuses on how and when things need to be done. It focuses on systems, structure and process to get the job done.

Leadership, on the other hand, involved higher skill sets when it comes to communicating with their team, displaying empathy for members, and having the ability to successfully motivate them. The role of a leader is to work with, guide, and influence team members to achieve an expected output.

Do note that project managers need to have both – leadership and management – skills to get the job done.

Definition of Leadership vs Management: other differences

Type of power

Management is directing team members to do their job by virtue of positional power. Leadership uses relational power, by guiding, influencing and collaborating with team members to get the job done.

Approach to job

Management is associated with maintaining the status quo and administration while leadership focuses on innovation. Developing the teams through collaboration, dialogue and always looking to optimize existing processes are examples of leadership.

Another way to look at the difference is: management focuses on doing things right while leadership looks at doing the right things.

Types of Leadership Styles

Laissez Faire

Laissez Faire style of leadership can be seen as a hands-off approach, where team members are left to make their own decisions, and set goals.


Transactional leadership is sometimes referred to as being “bossy” or tough love. It’s the style of leadership that says, “I’ll give you what you need, but in return I want your best work.” This style of leadership is characterized by a limited number of exchanges between the leader and follower. Transactional leaders are typically seen as fair, logical, and direct.

Servant Leader

Servant Leaders have a mindset of giving and focusing on others. They want to serve and empower their team members and they think in terms of helping, not in terms of commanding.

Servant Leaders ask for help when they need it, they share credit with others, and they give their team members the opportunity to lead in some way.

Servant Leadership works best when you are leading a team that is relatively new or inexperienced because these types of teams need more guidance and direction than veteran teams do.

Servant leaders will make sure that their team is well-trained before delegating tasks to them.


Transformational leaders are charismatic, inspiring, and motivate their team to go the extra mile. They are not motivated by self-interest or greed, but by a desire to make things better for others and the organization.

Transformational leaders believe deeply in their ideas and vision for the future.


Charisma is defined as a personal attractiveness or magnetism that persuades others to follow. This leader achieves this by being enthusiastic, informal, and passionate about their work.


Interactional style of leadership can be seen as mixture of transactional, transformational and charismatic.

Leadership vs Management for Managers

Managers are responsible for leading their teams. They are responsible for assigning tasks, overseeing deadlines, resolving conflicts among teammates, and providing guidance where needed. And while this can be done without being well-skilled in leadership, managers who are also skilled in leadership will have happier employees that are more satisfied with their work environment.

Project manages need to have both skills and more importantly, know when to apply what.

Management can also been as a step towards leadership. If you’re an entry-level project manager, look to master the management skills first. Learning leadership skills is an ongoing endeavor. You don’t have to be a leader to exhibit leadership skills.

Management skills will help establish your PM credentials, help you understand the different technical aspects of the job.

The more seasoned PMs should look at cultivating the leadership skills at a faster rate. Leadership skills are crucial to projects that have a high number of stakeholders and are complex. The top project managers will know when to use their leadership and management skills.

For example, if there’s a team team member and they have a history of delivering sub-par quality of work. What do you do?

If one were to apply management skills, which focuses on process and structure, the issue would be escalated to a higher authority. But what if there’s a better way?

Under these circumstances, if one were to show leadership skills, they would look to understand the ‘whys’. Like, why are they performing well below their potential? What is causing the drop in performance?

Addressing the root cause of issues is bound to provide long-lasting solutions. That’s exactly what a leader would do – look beyond the action and trying to motivate/guide. They are trying to look at the potential and exercising their authority to convert that into tangible work.

2 thoughts on “Definition of Leadership vs Management

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *