Management and leadership have been used interchangeably by many, while others view them as two distinct concepts. Management is the process of controlling a group or a set of entities to achieve an objective. On the other hand, leadership is the ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute to organizational success. At Harvard Business School Online's annual conference, Connext, professors Nancy Koehn and Joe Fuller discussed the relationship between leadership and management and shared their definitions of the two disciplines.
It is clear that the concepts of leadership and management are interchangeable, especially when it comes to assessing performance within organizations. The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders inspire and influence while managers control and direct. Managers are responsible for daily operations and ensuring that resources are available to meet objectives. They pursue objectives through coordinated actions and tactical processes, or tasks and activities that are developed in stages to achieve a given result.
Leaders, on the other hand, have a vision and a sense of direction. They are able to motivate their team members to work towards a common goal. Leaders also have the ability to inspire their team members to reach higher levels of productivity. In order to be effective, each individual must be able to both lead and manage depending on the context of the situation.
A manager who can allocate resources efficiently is ineffective if he has no vision or sense of direction on how those resources should be used. It is important for individuals to understand the differences between leadership and management in order to be successful in their roles. Explore our online leadership and management courses to learn how you can take charge of your professional development and accelerate your career.