What Is the Difference Between Leadership and Management?

Article header two employees and a laptop

Have you thought about becoming a manager? Could you see yourself leading a team, setting goals, and making projects happen?1 Although the role can vary depending on the industry and organisation; managers share a mission to deliver strategies and inspire workers.

Employees can tell when someone is a successful manager. For example, Norman described his manager for a blog:

‘I have the pleasure to work for a manager who is a great leader, very supportive, provides me with the tools to do the job but is also there to mentor when required. In my opinion my boss is a model for other bosses, he demonstrates great leadership skills which I try and model every chance I get. I’ve had the pleasure to meet other managers that have worked for my present boss, they share my opinion and supports it tenfold.’

 – Norman H, Hornepayne, Ontario.

Most managers intend to be supportive and successful. However, ‘research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) estimates that 50% to 70% of executives fail within 18 months of taking on a role.’3 The reason, according to international management speaker Katy Tynan, is that even if ‘intent is right, it’s just the skills and the thought process and the mindset that aren’t there.’4

In this blog, we break down the unique skills used in leadership and management to determine what makes them different and why you can’t run an organisation without both.

A young manager with their laptop

What is management about?

According to Harvard business professor and author John P. Kotter, ‘Management is about coping with complexity…(bringing) a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions like the quality and profitability of products.’ Managers allow large organisations to keep running without falling into chaos.5

For example, ‘Companies manage complexity first by planning and budgeting —setting targets or goals for the future (typically for the next month or year), establishing detailed steps for achieving those targets, and then allocating resources to accomplish those plans.’5

To address the management skills surrounding organising, staffing, and problem-solving, CTI’s qualifications in leadership and management include the following units.

UnitUnit Code
Apply communication strategies in the workplaceBSBXCM401
Coordinate business operational plansBSBOPS402
Apply critical thinking to work practicesBSBCRT411
Develop personal work prioritiesBSBPEF402
Implement and monitor WHS policies, procedures and programsBSBWHS411

These techniques to implement systems and practices are essential to organisations. As Kotter wrote: ‘The whole purpose of systems and structures is to help normal people who behave in normal ways to complete routine jobs successfully, day after day. It’s not exciting or glamorous. But that’s management. (On the other hand), leadership is different.’5

A group business meeting

What is leadership about?

‘Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change.’5 As the organisations become more competitive ‘doing what was done yesterday, or doing it 5% better, is no longer a formula for success. Major changes are more and more necessary to survive and compete effectively in this new environment. More change always demands more leadership.’5

Leaders achieve this by establishing direction, aligning people, motivating, and inspiring.6

There are a variety of leadership skills that these qualifications teach, through units like:

UnitUnit Code
Lead and facilitate a teamBSBXTW401
Demonstrate leadership in the workplaceBSBLDR411
Lead effective workplace relationshipsBSBLDR413
Develop and use emotional intelligenceBSBPEF502
Communicate effectively as a workplace leaderBSBLDR412


Through these skills, leaders aim to satisfy ‘basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.’5 ‘Leadership isn’t mystical and mysterious. It has nothing to do with having “charisma” or other exotic personality traits… Nor is leadership necessarily better than management or a replacement for it.’5

Conclusion: What’s the difference between leadership and management?

Leadership and Management require different skills and ways of thinking, but neither is more important than the other.

‘Rather, leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment…The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.5

Future managers and leaders around Australia are completing the nationally recognised Certificate IV in Leadership and Management (BSB40520) and Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420). To find out more, feel free to contact your learning consultant or send us an enquiry. We are happy to answer any questions about the qualifications and career opportunities.

A business worker at a meeting

Enquire Now

Have questions? Interested in enrolling? Simply fill out this form and one of our learning consultants will be able to help you out.

Call Now Button