Walden Differences Between Leadership and Management Comparison Paper

Managers and Leaders

The terms “management” and “leadership” are often used interchangeably, yet there are tremendous differences between the two. Jennings and associates (2007) analyze this sentiment by describing a different set of unique competencies native to each role. In short, “managing” is primarily focused on the functionality of an organization while “leading” is concerned with inspiring action (Williamson, 2017). Bridges (2018) aptly condenses this chasm by summarizing that leaders “lead people” while managers “manage things.” In this discussion post, I analyze the nuances between leadership and management by describing two anonymous individuals who best exemplify these roles.

Same Goal, Different Method

Though managers and leaders have different roles, their purpose is the same: to achieve goals. Leaders are more closely associated with influence and inspiration while managers are associated with tasks and activities. Though both roles are separate entities, they are interdependent of each other- and enhance each other- in the pursuit of achieving goals. In other words, inspiration makes the pursuit of tasks more fulfilling while assigning tasks to the inspired while granting shape and direction to an organizational vision.

An Example of a Leader

One of the greatest leaders I have ever encountered is a religious mentor (whom will be called “Pastor.”) Pastor was responsible for leading and facilitating the activities of a particular ministry, ensuring the growth and direction of its members was in alignment to the organization’s beliefs. What made this individual a great leader was their selfless passion and model behavior- their fervency to the faith inspired adherents to action and excellence. Though Pastor’s leadership qualities were strong, what this individual lacked was management capability; this individual was charmingly disorganized, clumsy, and bumbling. Often, plans would be poorly executed, details would be neglected, important dates and times would be forgotten, sometimes resulting in logistical catastrophes of biblical proportions.

An Example of a Manager

Meticulous attention to detail, incredible time management skills, and a laser-like focus to tasks are the hallmark characteristics of “Manager.” The Manager was responsible for managing a specific department of a large organization. Whether day-to-day tasks or large projects, Manager excelled by ensuring all the activities of the group were being completed. Large organizations have a lot of moving parts and Manager was responsible to form order out of the chaos. With any organization, conflict is bound to arise but one of the greatest talents that Manager exhibited is problem-solving. In all things, Manager was methodical, calculated, and precise, but perhaps to a fault. One of the things that Manager was not known for was empathy. It was not uncommon for Manager to make difficult, pragmatic decisions that are seemingly ruthless- without batting an eye. If it meant securing the operations of the organization, seldom did Manager regard the feelings of their underlings and operated in somewhat of a robotic fashion. In short, though Manager was a massive force of productivity, Manager incited more fear than inspiration.


Though leadership and management are titles that are sometimes used synonymously, there are major differences that serve the same purpose: managers lead “things” while leaders lead “people” (Bridges, 2008). As we have seen in these two examples, leaders are marked by their ability to inspire and motivate while managers are more concerned with ensuring the completion of tasks. Though there are stark differences in function, both roles seek to achieve the same purpose: to achieve the goals of an organization.


Bridges, J. (2018). Leadership vs. Management, What’s the Difference? Retrieved April 15, 2019

from https://www.projectmanager.com/training/leadership…

Jennings, B. M., Scalzi, C. C., Rodgers, J. D., & Keane, A. (2007). Differentiating nursing

leadership and management competencies. Nursing Outlook, 55(4), 169–175. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Williamson, E. (2017). Nurse manager vs nurse leader: What’s the difference? Retrieved April

15, 2019 from https://www.nurse.com/blog/2017/05/23/nurse-manage…

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