Leadership vs management. Often you will see people writing about how leadership is better than management. There will be comparisons that say something like “a manager controls a team, a leader empowers a team”.

Businessman Standing on Steps Outside Talking Through a Megaphone, Large Group of Business People Listening and Applauding

I am big on the importance of leadership, but I think we are getting this management vs leadership view wrong. Management and leadership are two different things. They both are important and valuable to an organization.

Let’s start with management. We take it for granted, but management is something that we created just over the past century. The core practices of management are planning, budgeting, staffing, controlling, and problem solving.

Management practices started with the creation of the railroads. They gave us the ability to develop and manage large organizations. Management ensures an organization functions the way it was designed.

Leadership is about having a vision for the future and creating a strategy to get there. Leaders create change, and they do so by getting people to buy into their vision. Leaders motivate and they create the systems, or change the systems, that managers manage.

So it’s not that leadership is better than management or vice versa. They are both critical to the success of an organization. Yet, globalization and technology have forced organizations to have the ability to change. For this reason, there is a now a great demand for leadership. Organizations need to have people who can lead, and not just from the top. We need leaders at all levels, from CEO to team member.

Most of our business schools focus their curriculums on management. Going forward, schools will need to start focusing more on the importance of leadership. In my opinion, organizational hierarchy structures will be a thing of the past within the next two decades. We’ve already seen this happening.

Management will still be necessary, but organizations will operate in a more flattened team based approach. Cross functional teams will be autonomous and empowered. This will enable organizations to adapt to change. The team based approach needs leadership at every level. Organization structure will look more like a mind map than a top down org chart.

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