Being in a role of seniority means you have to consider and master several techniques. Two key aspects of being a senior figure is exceeding in management and leadership. While neither is superior or inferior to the other, unfortunately, the two are often misunderstood as being one entity. Here, Katrina Percy, who has previously been voted as an inspirational senior woman figure, explains the differences between management and leadership and how they overlap. 

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According to the Oxford dictionary, management is the process of dealing with or controlling things or people. John Kotter, a professor of leadership at Harvard University, explains: “Management is a set of processes that keep an organisation functioning. They make it work today — they make it hit this quarter’s numbers. The processes are about planning, budgeting, staffing, clarifying jobs, measuring performance, and problem-solving when results did not go to plan.”

Good management is something which is needed in every sector and business. It’s a skill or act in which people can direct, control, handle, decide and oversee. Managers must be able to plan, set targets, measure, monitor, coordinate, solve, hire and fire, and do a variety of other tasks. Simply put, managers manage things, while leaders don’t. Typically, management is reflected in a title, while leadership isn’t.


So, what is leadership? The Oxford dictionary states that leadership represents a quality or ability, and this makes a person a leader, or gives them the position of being a leader. Kotter added: “It [leadership] is about aligning people to the vision, that means buy-in and communication, motivation and inspiration.”

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However, being a leader doesn’t mean you have to be the most senior figure in your business. It’s not something that automatically happens when you reach a certain pay grade. It’s important for leaders to be clear and strategic, but they must also be able to listen, engage and emphasise. This can happen at any level and you can be a leader without actually being someone’s supervisor. However, most people who gain promotions have done so partly because of their leadership skills.

So, while it’s clear that there are differences between management and leadership, it’s also noticeable that you must appropriately utilise both if you are to be a success. As University of Exeter Business School’s professor Jonathan Gosling commented: “If an organisation is run effectively, leadership and management will exist in tandem.”

Remember — you manage things, while you lead people.