Iliyana's Blog

Leadership vs. Management: Where do You Cut the Line?

[fa icon="calendar"] 04-Oct-2015 09:30:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

leadership vs management

I started university again this week. Yes, I did. As busy as I am at work, or perhaps at work and in my free time as I am a bit of a workaholic, I have this innate need to always learn and grow. And because I am driven to succeed in my career, I felt it was important to start preparing for the next step – and so I began a part-time Professional Diploma in Management at the Dublin Business School.

On Wednesday, I had my first lecture, which I thought was a great start. We delved into leadership and particularly the differences between leadership and management.

It was an inspiring evening of learning and reflection for me that got me writing this blog post and creating the infographic on the differences between a leader and a manager below.

The key learning really is that leadership and management are fundamentally different, but they often need to go hand in hand.

Warren Bennis distinguishes both explaining that “To manage means to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct. Leading is influencing, guiding in a direction, course, action, opinion.” He also says that both are important.

Sometimes you might lean towards leadership more, in other situations following management principles might be the better solution.

Some people are innate leaders, who need to acquire and perfect their management skills; others are natural managers but need to work more on their leadership abilities.   

One thing that we’ve been seeing over the past years is that leadership is becoming a lot more important in business. Why? Because soft skills and empathy that are at the centre of leadership are harder to develop than hard skills which are key in management to get the job done and bring order. Another very important reason is that our society is strongly moving away from the old principles of where a business is just a profit-making machine and employees are simply the robots with no say behind it. Not only as consumers but as workers we’ve become more sophisticated and demanding, more opinionated and strong-willed.  

What Makes a Leader

If you want to be an inspiring leader, there are some crucial capabilities you need to have:

  • You need to be able to build trust and establish respect.
  • You need to have confidence in yourself and be self-aware.
  • You need to be willing to change, be challenged and always learn.
  • You need to be able to motivate employees and entrust them.

One of the things that really stuck in my mind was how our lecturer defined leadership:

Leadership is a way for a company to make more profit through its people by motivating them and creating a happy work environment.

Leaders and managers are there to make people's lives better in order to make more profit for the business – the happier the staff, the more motivated they are and so the more business they bring on. Often businesses forget the happiness and the motivation part and just put the processes front and centre. There’s no sustainable return on this. However, no big idea can become reality without execution. Leadership and management are both necessary and complementary.

Summing it up, here are the five key things that Jack Welch – one of the biggest names in business – advises leaders and managers to do in his book The Real-Life MBA (next on my reading list together with Warren Bennis’s book):

  1. Get into people’s skin – care more about your people than yourself.
  2. Be Chief Meaning Officer – give purpose and vision to where you as a team and organisation are going.
  3. Remove Blockages from your people’s way – stop bureaucracy and obsessive processes, give freedom of work.
  4. Joyfully demonstrate the generosity gene – be thrilled to see your people grow and promote them rightfully.
  5. Make sure work is fun – create an environment that is enjoyable, exciting and inspiring, and let people be themselves.

Leader or manager, whoever you aspire to be, what matters most is that you are always you.

Leadership vs. Management [Infographic]

Click here for larger view on

Leadership vs. Management Infographic


Topics: Leadership

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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