The Difference Between Managing and Leading


11 July 2017

Have you ever considered why you think of some people as leaders, and other people—who clearly lead your team or head your department—you simply think of as managers or bosses? 

Craig Groeschel discusses this leadership principle in his video Leading vs. Managing – Finding Balance in Your Approach. He explains that it is tempting to manage without leading – particularly in good times – but that’s when we must continue to lead AND manage.

Now, it’s essential that every organization have great management. What is the purpose of excellent management? According to Craig, “Management creates systems, accountability, stability, and strength. There is no such thing as great leadership without great management because great leaders bring the right people in and help build the right systems. You cannot have great leadership without great management.” In fact, great leadership produces and insists upon great management.

On the other hand, Craig explains, “You can have management without great leadership. Particularly when times are good, the temptation is to slip into full-on management mode without leadership – and if you do that, you will quickly lose the good times.”

So what is the difference between management and leadership? Craig shares three key differences:

• "Managers must focus on the present. Leaders must be future-focused. If all we are doing is thinking about today, then over time the organization is going to suffer."
• "Managers manage risk. Leaders lead teams to take the right risks. Every great organization has risk-takers; if you want to go big, you’ve got to take the right risks. Then once you start having something significant, it’s the natural thing to pull back—now, we’ve actually got something to lose! But don’t stop taking the right risks; don’t abandon the very thing that made you great."
• "Managers ask 'How' and 'When.' Leaders ask, 'What' and 'Why.''What are the trends? Why are we doing what we are doing?' Both sets of questions are important."

Are you focused on the future? Taking the right risks? Asking 'What' and 'Why'?

If you asked your team, do you think they’d consider you a leader or a manager? Or both? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading vs. managing will help you find the balance of the two at crucial moments for your organization. 


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