News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 22, 2013

Business Cents: How do leaders, managers differ?

Heather Strohm
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Leadership or management? Often these two terms get confused and the true definition is lost within the operating walls of the company. Although these two roles in a company are quite different, they do complement each other and a company should have both.

If a business tries to separate the two roles, serious implications will arise and many new problems will come forth. In a basic sentence, a manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate while a leader is to inspire and motivate.

What are some other differences?

1. Managers administer; the leaders innovate

2. Managers are copiers; the leaders are innovators

3. Managers maintain; leaders develop

4. Managers focus on the entire system; leaders focus on people

5. Managers accept status quo; leaders challenge it

In our current economy, it is critical that managers and leaders collaborate and work cohesively. In our workforce, there is significant value in the knowledge of the people and workers are no longer simply cogs in an industrial machine. Employees look to their managers not just to assign a task but also define their purpose at the company, which is especially true for the newest generation entering our workforce and those graduating from tech schools and college.

Peter Drucker was one of the initial people to recognize this truth. He identified the emergence of the “knowledge worker,” and the profound differences that would cause in the way business was organized.

 “The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of every individual.” stated Drucker.

There are six different leadership styles that you can develop. Often leaders select the style that fits the situation. The six styles are visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting and commanding.

Visionary is necessary when the organization is headed into a new direction. Coaching tends to focus in on developing the strengths of the individuals within the organization. Affiliative is a style that really hones in on the importance of teamwork and the impact it has on the business as well as eliminating the perception that meritocracy is tolerated. Democratic utilizes the employees’ skill sets to gain commitment to the goals. Pacesetting is for setting high standards of performance. Finally, commanding is a military type style of leadership. This is typically the least effective unless there is a crisis.

As a business owner, employee, manager or leader, it is critical to understand your role within the organization so that your talents are best utilized and your fellow colleagues leverage your talent base. Furthermore, as a leader, you must understand which style is required and when in order to capture and support the talent of your workforce.


Heather (Penney) Strohm is the regional director for Indiana State University’s Indiana Small Business Development Center.