Leadership versus management figuring out what you need.

As your organisation grows, so will its complexity.
Understanding your optimum leadership versus management mix is important. Strong leadership is an essential building block for success. As the competition intensifies and the market demands transform themselves, you will need to have the right leadership in place to handle the new challenges.


After all leaders define the vision, align differing viewpoints, and motivate during the pursuit of a goal.


To succeed, organisations need to understand their leadership versus management requirements, but sometimes fail because they lack the knowledge and resources to develop the required set of leaders. There are reasons why this can be difficult:

The prevailing management model out there could be said to be short termism
Organizations typically have a myriad of management layers, guidelines, and practices, all of which are important for the day-to-day functioning of the business. However, because these processes are often focused on the short-term, they do not reflect the company’s overall long-term objectives. Companies depend too much on training and deploying managers throughout their organizations and too little on having the required leadership to direct these management processes to successfully grow


Situations change and so do the leadership requirements
The roles and responsibilities, styles, and actions of leaders need to constantly adapt to your given market and internal realities. Understanding their roles and determining the appropriate time to use certain styles and actions is an ongoing process given the current dynamic business environment.

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How to decide what is needed in leadership versus management

Leadership and management are distinct and yet complementary, however when talking about leadership versus management remember that the terms that are often misunderstood and misused. This is partly due to the fact that individuals who are in a position to lead are often also managers.


The objective of leadership is to bring about constructive change – a vital capability in today’s competitive marketplace and changing context. The current practice of management has evolved from the need of large, complex organizations to have a process for bringing order and consistency to generally repetitive operations.

For more information on defining leadership check out Define leadership.

The key differences between leadership versus management are defined by their objectives, processes, and results.

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Assess your leadership vs management mix


Work in a high growth company or operate in a highly dynamic market place context? Then you will typically have a significant requirement for strong leaders and managers. Recognizing this is a first step towards creating an environment that develops these individuals. The need for leaders is highly correlated with the change in the business environment. Competitive dynamics, emerging markets, and changing technologies and regulations all act to create change pressures within your industry. You need leaders who can deal with the uncertainty, set a direction, and influence others to follow.

On the other hand, the need for managers is directly related to the increase in business complexity. As your company moves up the growth curve, the complexity of your organization grows. There are more stakeholders, both internal and external; more interactions; more processes; and generally more at stake. You need managers who can plan, are detail-oriented, and have a focus on execution to ensure that you do not lose sight of key priorities.



Having strong leadership and capable management is critical to your company’s success, but there must also be an appropriate balance of the two. Like most companies, yours will have strong managers if you have established the well-grounded systems and training programs to develop people to fill managerial roles. But have you done the same for leadership?

Too much management with not enough leadership can lead to a narrow minded and bureaucratic organization; while too much leadership with not enough management can lead to an organization that is too unstructured and consistently fails to execute to plan. It is not leadership versus management you obviously need both.

Most companies historically suffer from a shortage of strong leaders.

For more information on leadership theories Go to leadership theories. click here


Strong leadership is at the core of all great companies, emerging or established. To scale its operations, a company requires a critical mass of leadership capabilities at all relevant levels. Doing this requires a company to understand its leadership versus management requirements, ensure that its leaders embrace a process to be more effective, and embark on a path to select and nurture a pool of potential leaders.

For more information on defining leadership check out Define leadership.

More on theories of leadership here.



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