Developing first-class management skills is obviously vital in the workplace and companies are often fairly generous in terms of internal and external management training courses. Being a good manager, however, isn’t the same thing as being a good leader, and despite the fact that our ever-changing work environments call increasingly for the strong qualities of the latter, leadership is an area which is commonly overlooked in many organizations.
People usually tend to think of management and leadership as one and the same thing, when in fact there are several major and fundamental differences. Firstly, management focuses on ensuring that existing standards, rules, policies and systems are being met or adhered to. It speaks of using organization and planning to ‘control’ the activities of others. Leadership, on the other hand, is concerned with bringing about change, not through ‘control’ but through ‘influence’, something which is vitally important when you consider how resistant most people are to accepting any type of change.
The second significant difference between management and leadership, therefore, comes down to the skills required for success in each area. Excellent planning and organization skills might work well for the manager but they are not sufficient to change the hearts and minds of an audience which may at first be unwilling to look at alternatives. An effective leader needs to be able to inspire and enthuse others so that they actively desire change and become keen followers along a new path.
Sound leadership skills are highly valued in any organization but they are not reliant on hierarchy in the same way that management is. You don’t have to be at the top of the tree or even be a manager to get yourself noticed as a strong leader, so whatever your role or position, any investment made in leadership training will always be a wise one.