The Real Difference between Leadership and Management

What bloggers frequently get wrong

Today, I read a blog that tries to describe how leadership and management differ. The blogger wrote some decent stuff, but overall, he got it wrong!

Not enough people understand how leadership and management differ.

What is management?

At a basic level, management is “the art of getting things done through people” according to Mary Parker Follett.¹

Management is a set of four formal roles:

  1. Manager of the organization
  2. Manager of processes
  3. Manager of people
  4. Manager of projects

What is leadership?

Leadership is helping others develop mentally and morally. In other words, it’s about building character in others.

Leadership isn’t a formal role but a way of practicing a formal role. Anyone at any level can practice leadership.

You can assign someone to manage, but you can’t assign someone to lead.

For more about leadership, read my other blogs:

If you want a more in-depth explanation, read my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership: A Guide for Inspiring Creativity, Innovation, and Engagement.


¹ Ideas on Management, Mary Parker Follett (1868–1933), (accessed April 23, 2020).

About Gary DePaul

Gary is a Leadership Author, Researcher, Consultant, and Podcast Guest. His latest book, What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?, is available in paperback, eBook, and soon as an audiobook. You can learn more about Gary and his other books at

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