Leadership III: Leadership is Not Management

Click here for Leadership I: What’s All the Fuss About Leadership?

Click here for Leadership II: It’s All About Influence

Leadership-IIIYou manage things; you lead people. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper —

The terms leader and manager are often used interchangeably. But are they the same? Most leadership experts say no. In On Becoming a Leader, consultant Warren Bennis composed a sizable list of distinctions between the two titles. Some of these differences are:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

In Leading Change, Harvard professor John P. Kotter explains the difference as follows: “Management is a set of processes that keep an organization functioning… The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan,” writes Kotter. (“Leadership, in contrast,) is about aligning people to the vision… (through) buy-in and communication, motivation and inspiration.”[1]

This is not to suggest that we must replace all management with leadership. The two serve different, yet essential, purposes. And many of us need to engage in both at times in order to ensure effective organizational function. The key for leaders is to be cognizant of when they are engaged in each aspect of their jobs and to aspire to be a leader first and foremost.

To again quote Kotter: “We need superb management. And we need more superb leadership. We need to be able to make our complex organizations reliable and efficient. We need them to jump into the future — the right future — at an accelerated pace, no matter the size of the changes required to make that happen.”[2]

It is through management that companies implement the ideas, actions and processes that lead to success. However, leaders are the ones that first develop the plan and chart the course for success. They also inspire their teams to take the necessary actions to ensure that their visions are actualized. The late Stephen Covey expressed the difference as follows: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”


  • Leadership is very different than management.
  • Leadership is about aligning people to the vision while management helps keep the organization and team functioning.
  • The two roles serve different, yet essential, purposes.

Next steps

  1. Reflect on the core differences between leaders and managers that we presented. Which one resonates with you most? Can you add other differences to the list?
  2. Make a list of your primary workplace responsibilities and activities. Then determine whether they are primarily management or leadership oriented.
  3. Ask yourself, “Do I prefer to manage or lead?” (Hint: which one do you do readily and which requires an external motivator?)’

Click here for Leadership I: What’s All the Fuss About Leadership?

Click here for Leadership II: It’s All About Influence

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and President of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. He can be reached at (212) 470-6139 or at nhoff@impactfulcoaching.com.

To watch #Leadership videos from this year’s Agudah Convention click below.
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[1] Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School p. 25.

[2] http://blogs.hbr.org/2013/01/management-is-still-not-leadership/