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Leadership and Management Functions Compared


The purpose of this post is to investigate how leadership and management may be apposed to each other and to determine whether or not they are mutually exclusive.


The key functions of management, personally observed, are organizing, planning and monitoring. It is vitally important to organize what Drucker describes as the “resources of production.”[1] Every enterprise must have order. Management must determine and adopt the most effective model for the enterprise. Fitting the organization to the task or core business is essential.

Managers are charged with the responsibility of taking measurements within the enterprise. These measurements can include the following: profitability ratios, ROI’s, share prices, ROE’s, leverage ratios and activity ratios. These measurements are essential to monitoring the company’s progress toward its stated goals. Management usually has a short-term perspective when compared to leadership.

In contrast to managers, leaders are charged with the responsibility of leading and empowering the work force to achieve the vision and objectives of the enterprise. The primary role of leadership is to integrate the various tangible and intangible components of an enterprise. This strategy applies equally well for both “profit” and “not for profit” organizations. A leader is the enabler of the tangible and the intangible, in essence the “life giver” to the organization.

Most importantly, the act of enabling must first be rooted in a corporate vision. Warren Bennis describes it this way, “The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision. The leader has a clear idea of what he wants to do – professionally and personally – and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failures. Unless you know where you’re going, and why, you cannot possibly get there.”[2]

Leaders must understand the principles of human relations and organizational behaviour. Leaders must competently motivate and direct the careers of the workforce. People are the human capital of any organization; they must be utilized efficiently and effectively. Leadership must always ask, “Are the employees reaching their potential, are they learning?” The true measurement of corporate success starts with employees achieving their individual goals and objectives.

Synthesis and Conclusion

There is evidence to support the notion that leadership and management are opposing concepts in organizational life. “Management controls people by pushing them in the right direction; leadership motivates them by satisfying basic human needs.”[3] In terms of mutual exclusivity, management is largely a day-to-day function whereas leadership has an overarching long-term perspective of operations. One thing is certain, both leadership and management functions must coexist in an effective organization.

What would you consider a reasonable percentage split for each in a typical day at work?

[1] Peter F. Drucker, “The Practice of Management,” (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 1993), 3.

[2] Warren Bennis, “On Becoming a Leader,” (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 1989), 41.

[3] John P. Kotter, “John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do,” (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1999), 60.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
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