leadershipAs an executive coach, I follow posts in the leadership space on a daily basis.

In doing so, I see many experts using “leadership” and “management” interchangeably.

I disagree. Vehemently.

While “everyone” (business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, agency leaders to name a few) must tap into both management and leadership skills, they’ll be more successful if they understand the differences between them.

Here are seven.

Management is Things; Leadership is People.

Specifically, we can manage processes, budgets, operations, calendars, production schedules, and so forth.

But when it’s about people, it’s leading, not managing.

If you’re thinking about managing people, you’re getting off on the wrong foot.

Because when you manage things, you’re in charge. With people? To quote Borat, “Not so much!”

Management is Facts and Figures; Leadership is Feelings

Many of my clients say, “I wish I could take emotion out of my workplace.”

What a shame.

The human beings whom we lead have both thoughts and feelings.

We can and should tap into both to motivate and inspire them to take the actions that will drive themselves and our organizations to new heights.

Truly effective leaders are keenly aware of their team members’ thoughts and perceptions, and give them reasons to be energized, positive, and optimistic about their joint futures.

Rather than attempting to remove emotion from their organizations, successful leaders are mindful of the emotional state of their followers and are conscious of sharing emotional energy that’s calm, centered, and constructive.


Emotional states, whether negative or positive, are contagious. Choose positive!

Nearly All Leaders are Solid Managers

Most executives are promoted into positions of leadership because they’ve proven themselves as managers.

However, too many managers are promoted into positions of leadership not because they’re good leaders, but because they’re great at being PR, social media, or social PR pros, at client service, and building up business.

Those are estimable skills, but they’re not necessarily leadership.

And I know. I was one!

(Okay, I’m being a little hard on myself, as many of my clients are former employees. But if I’m honest…)

Management May Be about You. Leadership is about Them!

At a certain point, you figure out how to create a schedule, whether a production schedule, a workflow chart, or an editorial calendar.

You know what it takes to plan and execute with excellence. And you can bring it all in on budget.

Leadership is different because it’s all about them, the individuals whom you’re leading.

What inspires them? What motivates them (or as some would suggest, how do you empower them to tap into what motivates them?)

You Need Different Leadership Styles

You may be leading two people or a dozen. Or dozens. Or more.

And you need to create a customized leadership style for each.

Why? Each has somewhat (or very) different values, a different worldview.

Each has different dreams for themselves, and even different dreams for your organization.

Obviously, each has a different view of their role in achieving that vision.

The more time and thought you put into creating a bespoke leadership approach for each staffer who reports to you, the more leadership success you’ll have.

If that sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! And it’s well worth it! 

We Don’t Just Lead Others

It’s important to remember leadership is about getting the outcomes we want for our organizations, our team members, our peers, our stakeholders, and importantly, ourselves.

So self-leadership is a critical part of the equation.

Leaders should continually ask themselves if their actions are in sync with their values and priorities, both organizational and personal.

They should consider if they’re truly helping others in their organizations to succeed.

And they should make sure they’re taking care of themselves.

To misquote (Read: mangle) Shakespeare, a leader can’t lead others without leading oneself.

(OK, that’s not at all a difference between managing and leading, but this is my article!)

One Thing Leadership and Management Have in Common

Whether we’re a manager, a leader, or a manager en route to being a leader we must keep improving via professional development.


Business is rapidly getting more and more complex.

We bring new individuals into our organizations all the time (hopefully that’s because we’re growing our businesses, and not because we have a retention issue!)

New generations are joining the workforce.

Technology brings new challenges, and new opportunities, daily.

As you strive to keep up and get ahead, remember your business is about people.

They yearn for leadership from you.

To do so effectively, you must be sure your knowledge and skills in this area are up-to-date.

Leadership isn’t about the impressive title, the corner office, or the big salary.

While many leaders ultimately get those material things, they’re not signs of true leadership.

If you want to know if you’re a leader, just turn around.

Do you see a team of inspired, motivated followers who are “in the boat” with you, and see their roles in achieving the vision you’ve created for your organization?

Then you are a leader!

Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs, PCC, CPC, ELI-MP, a certified executive coach, is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching. His company helps leaders, CEOs, agency owners, senior executives, and managers in the communications space achieve their organizational, career, and personal goals by becoming effective, inspired, and inspired leaders.

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