Managing or Leading?

There are distinctive differences between managing and leading an organisations. However, there is still the lack of a unique framework and model that precisely defines the distinction of two functions. In fact, the interchangeable role and integrative nature of leaders and managers create the confusion.

Practically speaking, these two functions are inseparable. But theoretically and conceptually, there are some attributes that defines the differences. For example, it has been accepted that:

  • managers do things right; leaders do the right things;
  • managing is an authority relationship; leading is an influence relationship; and
  • managing creates stability; leading creates change.

A number of authors ascribe that the given context defines to act as a leader or a manager. If the vision is clear and well comprehended within the organisation, then it is the time for execution. This includes planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling. It is an acceptable proposition that any organisation needs to some degrees both functions to thrive.

To be a complete leader/manager, one needs the required competencies with a great deal of flexibility to act one depending on the implied situation. The competencies that a leading function requires include visualising greatness, creating and empowering the "we", communicating for meaning, managing one's self, care and recognition. On the other hand, managing requires planning and organising, informing, representing, problem solving, conflict managing, monitoring, consulting and delegating, networking, and clarifying.


  • Thomas W. Kent, (2005),"Leading and managing: it takes two to tango", Management Decision, Vol. 43 Iss 7/8 pp. 1010 - 1017
  • Kent, T.W., Crotts, J.C. and Aziz, A. (2001), “Four factors of transformational leadership behavior”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 22 Nos 5/6, pp. 221-9.
  • Yukl, G., Wall, S. and Lepsinger, R. (1990), “Preliminary report on validation of the managerial practices survey”, in Clark, K.E. and Clark, M.B. (Eds), Measures of Leadership, Leadership Library of America, West Orange, NJ, pp. 223-38.

Dr. Mohammad Rezaei

Mohammad is a passionate, creative and inspirational explorer who brings excitement, focus and leadership to open-minded, engaged and curious audiences.