Category Archives: leadership

Management vs. leadership… which one?


By: Bridget C Lewis ©2011


One good thing about being a trainer is the exposure you get from facilitating lots of training workshops.  You learn a lot by observing people interact in the classroom.  You also learn a lot when they talk about their experiences doing their jobs.  Over time I have developed great respect, understanding and appreciation for those in management roles – especially those who manage people.

People who manage people have a tough job.  They have to get work done through the efforts of others.  They have to handle multiple personality types and different work ethics.  They have to be fair.  They have to manage processes.  They have to be leaders.  The lack of leadership skills among managers is one of the major criticisms I hear all the time.  As a matter of fact, there is ample literature that clearly outlines the differences between management and leadership skills.  But do you know what I think is missing?  There is not enough literature that helps people understand that while leadership and management are different skill sets, it is possible and desirable for managers to have both.

It is a mistake to focus all or most attention only on C-Level leadership development.  Line and middle managers have a great need for such development too because theirs is the level at which company strategy is being executed.  They need to understand how to motivate, inspire, lead by example, and communicate vision.  We have to get to that place where organizations are helping managers realize they need to be effective leaders.  Leadership skills are not automatic.  Remember the question “are leaders born or made?”  This question seems to be at the root of every leadership course or program out there.

Just because a person is a good manager does not mean they know how to lead.  By the same token there are many leaders who are not effective managers.  So to be great in their roles managers have to be both efficient – knowing the intricacies of doing their jobs, and effective – being able to influence their people to act.  Both roles need equal amounts of development through training, mentoring, role-modeling and other learning methods because one without the other will leave a manager only half-prepared to do a good job.

Great managers will have a positive impact on shaping organizational culture.  But according to Christine Kane-Urrabazo in a 2006 article for the Journal of Nursing Management, Management’s role in shaping organizational culture, many do not understand this.  She writes:

 “While many managers do not deny the importance of organizational culture in employee satisfaction, few […] realize the direct impact they have in shaping it. It is oftentimes believed that cultures are predetermined; however, this is a false assumption. It is crucial that managers at all levels are aware of their roles and responsibilities in upholding positive workplace environments that can increase employee satisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the major cause of turnover and can have detrimental cost and environmental effects on the agency” p. 188

Thus efficiency as a manager must be linked to effectiveness as a leader.  Organizations have to equip managers with the tools they’ll need to be both.  Management efficiency is a necessary tool for getting through the day-to-day routine.  Leadership effectiveness is a necessary tool to shaping organizational culture.  Outputs of effective leadership include:

  • trust and trustworthiness
  • empowerment and delegation
  • consistency
  • mentorship

To the extent organizations are able to have managers who understand that their role includes both management efficiency and leadership effectiveness we will have organizational cultures that are conducive to better employee engagement and increased workplace productivity.


Kane-Urrabazo, C. (2006). Management’s role in shaping organizational culture. Journal of Nursing Management, 14(), 188-194.