In the world we operate in today, management and leadership are often used as interchangeable terms. In many situations, it may be true that leaders spend time managing people and coordinating operational functions. It may also be true that managers are there to inspire and develop passion in individuals under them. Some leaders will get more involved in business structures than others.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, gets quite involved in the supply chain, whereas Steve Jobs never really took much interest in those types of practicalities. In terms of leading Apple, they are both exceptional, and both have aspects of leadership and management in their armoury. The reality is, though, that leadership can live without too much management, but at the top of an organisation, management without leadership will doom the company to failure.
The Harvard business review says that managers and leaders are different in the circles of power that they influence. Leaders create circles of influence, whereas managers develop power through their subordinates. Managers will tend to have direct reports and have people come to them from established channels, leaders will tend to have influence through the organisation, and have people outside their direct reporting and even outside their company come for advice and guidance on various affairs.
Managers tend to have responsibility for four main functions within an organisation which are controlling, organising, leading and planning. There is, therefore, the leadership aspect in there.
Some managers are leaders but not all managers are.
Indeed, some managers are pretty poor when it comes to leadership and don't inspire trust or commitment from their employees. That's the classic case of them requiring a micromanaged approach to ensure that people are doing their jobs. Managers can have the tendency to operate through fear, rather than reward and inspiration.
With managers, there is normally a job description that outlines who reports to them, the organisational goals that they should be measured by, and who they have the power to discipline, hire, promote and reward.
Part of the difference between managers and leaders, and how to know whether you are a leader or not, comes in whether the organisational goals are given to you, or whether you are in charge of setting them and developing the vision.
In terms of individual teams within a company, the leader doesn't necessarily have control and interpersonal influence through the company structures. The leader is the person who sets the direction of the team. The leader may only contribute a few words, but if it dictates where the team goes, then they have led the team. The leader sees past the current situation and sets the direction of a team, company, organisation, or even country.
By understanding what leadership is within the company, it is possible to harness great potential. Top leadership consultancies provide training to help organisations understand what leadership is, and get the true leaders within their organisation into the right positions. Leadership training can then also provide mechanisms for adding leadership competencies where they need to go in an organisation. You can see here to find out more.
Understanding leadership is more than just a buzzword. Leadership is what makes the difference between a winning team and a losing team, between a company that thrives and survives, and a company that fails and disappears.
As a leader, you need to develop a vision for your team or company, find your own unique way of interacting with those around you, take risks and trust your gut, think about the long-term vision, and commit yourself to growing as a person and a leader. If you can do all of these things, and work within the environment where you can influence people, events and company outcomes, you will end up with a satisfying leadership-based career, rather than a humdrum management existence.