Understand the Difference Between Improving Leadership and Management

Improving leadership with kidsThousands of articles are written regularly on improving leadership.  Many try to distill leadership into a simple list of traits and characteristic of a leader.  The challenge is the use of the terms leadership and management are often confused and intermingled.

While properly executing one is critical to delivering competently on the other, there is a definitive difference.  Understanding this difference is the first step in improving leadership and management.

To me management is the process and mechanical aspects of achieve an outcome.  Leadership, on the other hand, is the ability to influencing and motivate others toward achieving the result.

As I said, the two disciplines are tangled together.  Next week’s post will provide a very good example of how these two disciplines intertwine with each other.

For now, it is imperative that you understand improving leadership and management are different.  You must master both because they’re the major factors necessary in order to grow your business.  Go back and read the previous post The Search for Business Growth Continues or watch the video Small Business Growth Simplified to better understand how these critical factors influence small business grow.

Management, or mechanical aspects, is usually easier to address. So, often small business owners don’t make improving their leadership competency a priority.  This is a mistake that eventually comes back to haunt them later as their business moves further along in the stages of business growth.

But how do you improve leadership?  By practicing it!!!

I know this because I sat in ROTC classes for 4 years during college reading, discussing, debating, and then testing the subtle differences between leadership and management in the leadership lab.  The opportunity to share with others and try new things was invaluable.  When the time came for me to become the leader of my missile crew after commissioning, I already had 4 years of experience.

Unfortunately small business owners don’t have the luxury of 4 years of practicing.  They have to apply leadership right away and on a daily basis or their business suffers.  Business coaching can provide an effective alternative to improving leadership for those that don’t have the luxury of 4 years of practice.  A mentor/coach can provide critique and guidance in your progress to you in improving leadership.

For those of you that have a coach or mentor, share with the other readers how other resources may have helped you in improving leadership?  Would you recommend this as a method for improving leadership skills for other small business owners?  Why or why not?



  1. Avatar
    Michael Weeks
    August 10, 2012

    Dino raises a common question that often sparks debate. I make the distinction to my students and clients this way:

    Management is the process of acquiring and allocating resources (people, capital, raw materials, etc.). Leadership is the process of motivating people to accomplish a goal.

    One can be a good manager and not a good leader (and vice versa). Being a good manager and a good leader is a great (but rare) combination.

    In small entrepreneurial firms a common problem is that the founder is a visionary leader without the management skills necessary to continue rapid growth.

    In large firms a common problem is that people with exceptional technical and management skills get promoted to positions of authority without the visionary leadership skills necessary to shepherd employees toward a common goal.

    One final note… Great leaders must be built upon strong values. Leadership without values leads to catastrophic moral failures.

  2. Avatar
    guild wars 2 gold
    August 11, 2012

    I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  3. Avatar
    Garth Caprio
    August 12, 2012

    I wish to get across my respect for your kind-heartedness supporting folks that really want assistance with in this field. Your very own commitment to passing the solution around came to be remarkably insightful and has in every case empowered somebody just like me to realize their endeavors. Your entire informative guide means a lot a person like me and substantially more to my office workers. Thanks a ton; from all of us.

  4. Avatar

    Leadership is vision, management is implementation of the vision.


  5. Avatar
    Daniel Buhr
    August 14, 2012

    Thank you, Dino. This is such an important issue. To me there is no greater impediment to the full realization of human potential than the false idea that leadership and management are the same. People want to make a difference, they want to matter, but so many are denied the opportunity simply for lack of a title. Grace Murray Hopper defined it well, “You manage things. You lead people.”

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