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The Difference Between Management And Leadership – And Why It Matters

By Gary Bradt – Expert on Emotional Intelligence, Change & Leadership, Author & Clinical Psychologist

change Speaker Gary Brad at The Sweeney Agency Speakers BureauIn business circles, management and leadership are often used interchangeably. However, while both roles are important, they are quite different, as one of my mentors John Kotter has demonstrated over the years.

Management is about controlling and regulating things. As a result, typical management responsibilities might include:

  • Hitting numbers
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Improving processes
  • Controlling costs
  • Etc.

Whereas, leadership is about setting a direction and inspiring people to follow. Therefore, typical leadership responsibilities may include:

  • Devising a vision
  • Heading up change
  • Helping people develop
  • Setting an appropriate cultural example

Management and Leadership Require Different Skill Sets

Since management and leadership are different, each requires a different skill set. Management highlights the need for more analytical and rational thinking abilities. Whereas, sound leadership underscores the need for emotional intelligenceself-awareness, and the ability to connect with others.

Knowing when to apply which skill set matters as well. For example, diagnosing a business downturn requires the management skill of cool and rational analysis. However, dealing with the emotional fallout of a business downturn calls for a more human touch, through sensitive and empathetic communication.

Both management and leadership skill sets are important. However, many people seem more comfortable wearing a management hat versus a leadership one. One reason for that, perhaps, is that leadership deals with more personal and intimate matters. Whereas, employing management skills allow one to stay more impersonal and aloof, i.e., emotionally safer.

Regardless of the reason, we need to to develop more leadership skills in more people.

Why We Need More Leaders At Every Level

Today’s rapidly changing world, with crises seeming to lurk around every corner, underscores the demand for more and better leaders to help us cope. The current pandemic is wreaking havoc, for example. In times like this, people naturally turn to their leaders for reassurance and guidance. If the leader’s response is lacking, the consequences can be grave.

Therefore, I have previously argued that leadership should be a licensed profession. As our world tumbles into turmoil, the need for more competent leaders is stronger than ever.


Management and leadership are different, yet both are important. Each requires a different skill set. As an executive, it is important to know when to don your management versus your leadership hat. Otherwise, you may find yourself managing through situations best dealt with a leader’s touch, or trying to lead when a coherent plan designed by competent managers would be the preferred option.


About Dr. Gary Bradt

More than ever before, change and unrelenting disruption are causing employees to feel emotional fatigue, burnout, stress, anxiety and myriad emotions that strip them of creativity, productivity and overall joy. Providing employees with more strategies to adapt to change with a growth mindset and resilient spirit are critical competencies that Dr. Gary Bradt has been teaching C-Suite leaders in Fortune 500s for 25+ years.  Today, he is being called upon by leading corporations to share his practical and actionable tools for change with employees at every level, so they can embrace change and create a positive path forward both professionally and personally.  Dr. Bradt’s unique background and perspective make him a one-of-a-kind speaker on emotional intelligence, change and leadership. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Bradt shares relevant research from neuroscience and positive psychology to help leaders and people at every level approach change with a positive perspective. 

To Learn more about Dr. Gary Bradt contact [email protected]

Derek Sweeney is the Director of Speaker Ideas at The Sweeney Agency. www.thesweeneyagency.com. For 15 years Derek has been helping clients find the right Speakers for their events. Derek can be reached at 1-866-727-7555 or [email protected]