black and red game pieces on a reflective surface

Many people assume leadership and management are used interchangeably. However, that’s not the case. These two terms may have overlapping functions but require completely different skills to inspire and motivate a team at a workplace, which we’ll elaborate on later in this blog.

We’ll explore the terms individually and how they impact the workforce and the organizational culture and decide when to use each to drive business growth.

Here’s what you need to know about management and leadership in the workplace:

What Is Management?

Management is concerned with achieving a goal, a common purpose, in a monotonous manner. Some of its functions may include planning, staffing, and decision-making based on a predetermined outline.

However, that doesn’t mean that managers can’t become leaders. If they begin carrying out leadership responsibilities like encouraging their employees, providing guidance and inspiration, and communicating constructive and positive feedback where needed, they can raise their employee’s productivity.

a woman sitting at the head of the table

What Is Leadership?

Most people often equate leadership with a person according to one’s position in an organization. However, leadership in the workplace has nothing to do with titles, personal agendas, or management style. It’s also not restricted to a charismatic personality, better vision, and personality traits.

Leadership, in a nutshell, is the creation of non-incremental positive change through a meticulously planned vision, creating a strategy to execute that vision, and making plans to oversee and manage the entire process while empowering your workforce using adaptive decision-making techniques.


a person leading a group of people down the hill

How Do They Impact The Workforce?

Now that we’ve established what leading and managing means, we can understand how they influence the workforce. Here’s what you need to know:

Quality Vs. Position

Leadership has an ambiguous definition and role because It’s not a set position in the organizational hierarchy. You’re a leader if you act in a way that motivates and inspires others to do their best. So, it makes no difference what your title is.

However, a manager’s role is predefined with a specific job description within the organization, but you can use your authority to influence as a leader. A leader is someone with the ability to drive change. That’s why, even as a manager, you can display leadership qualities.

In this context, we believe leadership has more impact. It enhances a managerial role because it’s a quality rather than a position.

Key Differences In Communication

A manager focuses on questions like when and how to achieve a task, whereas a leader asks why and what we want to do. A leader is someone who stands up and challenges the status quo and the authority if a decision is not in favor of the organization and the workforce and works to reverse that decision in favor. If the team has hit a plateau or made a mistake, the leader will ask what “we” all learned from this activity and why this happened.

However, managers aren’t exactly required to assess failures analytically. Their role is limited to asking when and how something went wrong or right and if the plan was carried out effectively or not. They prefer to accept the status quo instead of challenging it.

Again, the leader has more impact here because they’re acting in the sole interest of the organization and wish for the best possible outcome. They think critically and inspire their team to do so as well. In contrast, the managerial mindset is more focused on doing set, routine tasks rather than critically thinking about the impact of these tasks on the organization’s long-term goals.


a woman giving a presentation at the workplace

Aligning Vs. Organizing

Leaders are more concerned about influencing and aligning people than assigning work to them. They do this by allowing the individuals themselves to envision their function in a wider context and how their efforts may help realize the leader’s vision for the possibility of future growth.

On the other hand, managers achieve their outlined goals through coordinated tactical processes and activities. They divide long-term goals into smaller segments and organize available resources (subordinates) to reach the desired outcome.

Here, we’ll consider the impact on employee empowerment and growth. And based on the facts presented earlier, leaders have the most influence because they allow employees the freedom to contribute to the goals based on their skills, interest, experience, and initiative. Whereas in a managerial environment, employees are assigned tasks. They may or may not be best suited for these tasks, which can change the desired outcome.

a person speaking to a group of people

Key Differences In Achieving Vision

Leaders are seen as visionaries who set up pathways to organizational growth. They examine where the organization currently stands, where they want it to go, and how they can involve their team to achieve that growth.

In contrast, managers are responsible for achieving organizational goals through processes like staffing, organization structuring, budgeting, etc. Their vision is bound to set tasks, planning, strategies, and implementation processes and objectives set out by leaders.

Both these roles are pivotal in achieving organizational growth. However, a leader will have more impact in this area because, without their vision, managers won’t have an objective to perform. So, leaders are the catalyst for organizational cultural change.

Reach Out To Affordable Leadership Recruiting Services In New York

If you’re looking for talented leaders for your organization, Cochran, Cochran, & Yale can help. We’re a reputable and affordable C-Suite executive recruitment service in New York that can help you find your next CFO or CEO.

We’re one of the best VP Finance recruiters NY in Upper State New York and have placed many competent leaders in successful organizations and businesses for forty years and more. We also offer executive compensation consulting and candidate assessment services.

Get in touch with us today for more information on our CFO job search service.