Jump Off the Water Slide – The Difference Between Leadership and Management

difference_between_leadership_managementThere is a distinct difference between leadership and management.

Both are important. And if you want to be successful personally and professionally, both are necessary. But leadership and management are very different.

Like many of you, I love leadership quotes. And when it comes to the difference between leadership and management, there are no better quotes than these by Stephen Covey:

  • Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is the discipline to carry it out.
  • Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder of success is leaning against the right wall.
  • Leadership must come first. Management is a bottom-line focus: How can I best accomplish certain things? Leadership deals with the top line: What are the things I want to accomplish?
  • Effective management without effective leadership is, as one individual phrased it, “like straightening the chairs on the Titanic.” No management success can compensate for failure in leadership.

One more person who must be quoted is a discussion about the difference between leadership and management is Peter Drucker. He summed up the difference when he said: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Bottom line, if you want to be successful in your personal and professional life, it’s important to understand that leadership is not better than management. Both are essential to success. However, leadership must come first.

This does not mean management is bad or evil. Management simply needs to remain in its proper place if it is to help you show up and shine. When management nudges itself past leadership, your tendency will be to put primary focus on doing things right instead of doing the right things. When this happens, “show up and shines” will eventually evolve into “show up and whine” because your primary focus is bound to slide away from purpose to policies and procedures.

This video from an education conference I keynoted at illustrates the danger of not understanding the difference between leadership and management.



Question: What do you do to stay off the Management Water Slide Ride? How do you keep the difference between leadership and management in the right prospective?