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How to Become a More Successful Leader Harvard PDF

Leadership vs. Management: What’s the Difference?

Before delving into what makes an effective leader, it’s important to understand the difference between leadership and management. While there’s some overlap between the work that leaders and managers do, there are also significant distinctions.

Here are three differences between leadership and management.

Process vs. Vision

Effective leadership is centered on a vision to guide change. Whereas managers set out to achieve organizational goals through implementing processes, such as budgeting, organizational structuring, and staffing, leaders are more intent on thinking ahead and capitalizing on opportunities.

“I think of management as working with other people to make sure the goals an organization has articulated are executed,” says Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria in the online course Management Essentials. “It’s the process of working with others to ensure the effective execution of a chosen set of goals. Leadership is about developing what the goals should be. It’s more about driving change.”

Organizing vs. Aligning

In the book, On Becoming a Leader, scholar Warren Bennis presents a list of key differences between managers and leaders, including:

  • In the book, On Becoming a Leader, scholar Warren Bennis presents a list of key differences between managers and leadeth manager administers; the leader innovates
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people

Managers pursue goals through coordinated actions and tactical processes, or tasks and activities that unfold over stages to reach a certain outcome.

For example, they may implement a decision-making process when leading a critical meeting, or when devising a plan for communicating organizational change.

Leaders, on the other hand, are less focused on how to organize people to get work done and more on finding ways to align and influence them.

Position vs. Quality

The title “manager” often denotes a specific role within an organization’s hierarchy, while referring to someone as a “leader” has a more fluid meaning.

“Manager is a title. It’s a role and set of responsibilities,” writes leadership coach Doc Norton in Forbes. “Having the position of manager does not make you a leader. The best managers are leaders, but the two are not synonymous.

Leadership is the result of the action. If you act in a way that inspires, encourages, or engages others, you are a leader. It doesn’t matter your title or position.” Leadership is a quality that needs to be shaped. By learning how to influence others, you can build greater self-awareness and boost your team’s performance.


Purpose•Dealing with change•Dealing with complexity
• Change and innovation
• “Doing the right things”
• Doing
• Execution and implementation
• “Doing things right”
main processes/Skills• Formulating visions
• Aligning people
• Motivating and inspiring
• Influencing
• Planning projects
• Organizing people
• Monitoring progress and
• Problem-solving
Orientation• Future
• Long-term
• Present
• Short-term
Daily Work• High-level
• Strategic
• Ground-level
• Tactical
Seeks to Achieve• Change
• Newness
• Effectiveness
• Movement
• Order
• Consistency
• Efficiency
• Stability

Leadership vs. Management – What it means to make a difference

The world-renowned marketing and leadership author Seth Godin talks about the difference between leadership and management, the confusion surrounding them, and why the world needs more leaders.

Key Points:

  • • Management works well in terms of increasing economic efficiency and productivity. But, in the face of rapid change, the world needs leadership to get through this stage of unprecedented transformation.
  • You should strive for excellence. Producing something truly great is the only way to build competitive advantage because sophisticated robots, artificial intelligence, and low-paid labor will handle the trivial job of assuring quality.
  • You should focus on “soft skills” which are actually “real skills”. Those are the characteristics that differentiate a potential employee from a robot.
  • Effective leadership can help companies navigate difficulties and failures, and eventually find successful processes to get forward.

Questions to consider:

  • • How can you become more of a leader than a manager?
  • How can you and your organization strive for excellence instead of just quality?
  • Are you focusing on real skills?
  • How can you make better processes in order to fail more efficiently?

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