Why Leadership and Management Are Not the Same

Richard Branson. Guy Kawasaki. Sheryl Sandberg. What separates them from your run-of-the-mill minds in the business world? Passion? Intelligence? Both are important qualities but alone cannot take a business from the starting line to a net worth measured in billions. High level skills in both leadership and management have let the above businesspeople, and many like them, thrive.

Though both traits together are indispensable, they can be mutually exclusive. Excellent leaders can have poor management skills. Savvy managers can be uninspiring leaders. Greatness at one does not guarantee greatness at the other. Fortunately, excellence in both traits is not inborn: it can be achieved if you know their differences and work towards improvement.

Leadership and management are two halves of one whole. Where is the dividing line between these traits? What does each trait do for a business? Management moves a business forward. Leadership dictates how far that movement goes. Let’s dive deeper and look at some real life examples.

What Makes Good Management Indispensable

Managers are logistics masters. All of the working parts of a business wouldn’t function without their oversight. Planning, budgeting, organization, staff allocation, and problem solving are all in their wheel house.

Taichi Ohno, the Japanese industrialist who inspired lean manufacturing, had a perfect manager mentality. After World War II, Toyota set its sights on quickly catching up with Detroit, and Ohno was the man for the task. He sought out inefficiency and wastefulness in Toyota’s hierarchy and persisted through resistance until he could streamline productivity.

His tireless work and logistical thinking spearheaded industry-wide strategies and helped make Toyota a contender in an era when the Big Three dominated the market.

The Secret Sauce behind Good Leadership

Leaders, on the other hand, cultivate loyalty. The seeds of employee morale and productivity either flourish or wilt depending on the presence of a leader. Their work also evangelizes, creating followers outside of the company to spread the word and build a mystique that transforms prospects into buyers.

Knute Rockne, the legendary coach who put Notre Dame on the map, is an archetype for leaders everywhere. Rockne imparted high-minded ideals to his players: cooperation, loyalty, and self-sacrifice. Living by the mantra of “Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points,” Rockne conditioned his players until they were athletic and strategic machines unlike anything college football had ever seen.

And after he passed away, his legacy lived on in the generation of college football coaches who were mostly his former players. Whether or not you’re a football fan, you have to be impressed by what the charismatic man achieved.

Bringing the Two Together

For sales professionals that are trying to move up the ladder, both of the above qualities are essential in equal measure. To get promoted from sales to management, you need to prove you have the organizational skills to handle larger initiatives and the interpersonal finesse to motivate your team to get results.

That’s Richard Branson’s specialty. Branson built his business empire on the back of Virgin Records, a company he started from scratch. He handled new hires, conducted interviews with rock stars and renegades, managed expansion into physical record shops, and founded a recording studio. The early success of his business relied upon his logistical know-how, but his strength as a leader delivered Virgin to its heights.

Richard Branson set the tone for the culture and to this day acts as a model for his employees. He lives by the motto, “don’t sweat it: rules were meant to be broken.” He attracts passionate, outside-the-box thinkers to the Virgin Group, people who he mentors to look to the customer for answers and focus less on what the competition is doing. He listens to employees, encourages them to learn, and stays lighthearted. Any person who can master a fraction of his leadership and management style will be wildly successful.

Want to build your own management and leadership skills? At IDR, we offer our employees a chance to strengthen both talents. As an Account Manager with our team, you can learn to handle the ins and outs of your own accounts. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to become a sales mentor and build your leadership skills, as we are constantly looking for new ways to expand our services. Apply to IDR if you want to be the best of both worlds in your professional career.