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"Leading the Way: Unraveling the Distinction Between Leadership and Management"

Two business women
What's the difference between leadership and management? Let's unravel the difference in this blog

Throughout your professional journey, have you often found yourself reflecting on the question, "Am I leading or managing?" This question is not just a personal curiosity, but a critical query that holds the potential to transform one's professional trajectory. In this article, we will delve into the nuanced distinction between leadership and management, a concept that is often misunderstood.

The Perennial Debate: Are Leaders Born or Made?

The debate about whether leaders are born or made has been a long-standing one. People often tend to view leadership as a superior skill, overshadowing the importance of management. However, as we will learn from the teachings of the renowned leadership expert, John Kotter, both leadership and management functions are necessary and complementary to each other.

Understanding Leadership: The DAM Framework

According to Kotter, leadership is about setting a Direction for the team or organization, Aligning everyone towards the chosen direction, and Motivating them to achieve the set goals. These three functions form the DAM of leadership.

  1. Direction: Leadership starts with setting a clear and compelling vision. This involves defining the vision, mission, and strategic objectives for the team or organization.

  2. Alignment: Once the direction is set, the next step is aligning everyone towards it. This involves communicating the vision effectively and ensuring that everyone understands their role in achieving it.

  3. Motivation: Motivating individuals to strive towards the direction is the final step of leadership. This involves inspiring and encouraging individuals to give their best and achieve the set goals.

Understanding Management: The POC Framework

On the other hand, management is all about Planning how the team or organization will function, Organizing the resources and processes to support the plan, and Controlling the activities to ensure the plan is achieved. These three functions form the POC of management.

  1. Planning: Planning involves defining the work, setting goals, and outlining the strategies and tactics to achieve them.

  2. Organizing: Organizing involves arranging resources and processes to support the plan. This includes defining roles and responsibilities, creating workflows, and setting up systems and processes.

  3. Controlling: Controlling involves monitoring progress, tracking performance, and making necessary adjustments to ensure the plan is achieved.

The Balancing Act: DAM and POC

While it is important to understand the distinction between leadership and management, it is equally important to recognize that both are necessary and should be balanced. We all spend parts of our day doing some leading (DAM) and some managing (POC). Each of us may lean towards one more than the other, but the key is to know when to lead (DAM) and when to manage (POC).

For instance, if you are embarking on a mission to the moon, you would need strong leadership to set the direction (vision) and motivate the team. Leaders and managers align when creating the mission. Effective management will help plan and execute the mission, organize resources, and control activities to ensure a successful launch.

Why Does It Matter?

Understanding the difference between leadership and management is important because it can significantly impact your career growth and progress. It can help you identify your strengths and areas for improvement, and guide you on how to balance your managerial and leadership roles effectively. Leaders must clearly communicate their visions and co-create missions with managers.

Reflective Questions for Balancing Leadership and Management

To help you balance between your managerial and leadership role, here are 10 reflective questions:

  1. How much of my time is spent leading versus managing?

  2. What tasks do I enjoy more - directing, aligning, and motivating (DAM), or planning, organizing, and controlling (POC)?

  3. Which role do I naturally lean towards - leadership or management?

  4. How can I develop my weaker skills, whether they are in leadership or management?

  5. How well do I communicate my vision as a leader?

  6. How effective am I at organizing resources and processes as a manager?

  7. How successful am I at motivating my team as a leader?

  8. How efficient am I at controlling activities to achieve my plan as a manager?

  9. What can I do to improve my leadership and management skills?

  10. How can I better balance my leadership and management roles?

At Habitat for Leadership, we are committed to partnering with you on your leadership journey. Whether it's through coaching or workshops, we are here to support and empower you to your leadership role . So, whether you see yourself as a leader, a manager, or both, remember that the ultimate goal is to guide your team towards success.

Never stop learning, never stop growing.



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