Leadership Versus Management

I am currently working with a number of small companies who are part of the government’s Mentor Protégé Program.

When the protégés and I strategize about how to successfully grow their companies, I am often met with questions about the roles of leaders versus managers. How are they different? I’m asked. How are they the same?

The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people FOLLOW them, while managers have people who WORK FOR them. Successful business owners need to be both strong leaders and strong managers to get their teams on board to follow them toward their vision of success.

Managers are responsible for heading up a contract or project with customers who have expectations. They organize the work and the workers and plan for execution of the project requirements. Managers assign work and monitor employee progress.

While growing a small business, the principals have to perform well as leaders and managers. There will be opportunities to be motivational and visionary while articulating a view of the future. Likewise, as the company grows and contracts are won and infrastructure is put in place, the principals will need to assure that contracts are run within budget, that the deliverables are timely, and employee contributions are on track and well-executed to ensure positive contractual outcomes.

So when you’re in a leadership moment, you are excitedly looking up-and-out. When in a management moment you are tactfully looking down at requirements and deadlines.

Below is a list of attributes of leaders and managers.


Have employees
React to change
Have good ideas
Direct groups
Are focused
Oversee employee activties


Win followers
Empower associates
Create and implement change
Create teams
Seek out and listen to input
Are accountable
Create shared focus 

The practice of being both a good leader and a good manager is being able to constantly recognize which of the two roles you need to be in at any given time, assessing what is needed at that time, then being able to call up the right attributes that your team and company need at that moment, while always keeping one eye on the future.

What has your experience been with leadership and management?