Want to keep learning?

This content is taken from the Deakin University's online course, What is Leadership?. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds Management existed in organisations way before leadership. Back in the day, you didn’t need to lead people, just manage them. Management was about planning, organising, and controlling. Leading didn’t come till much later, and why is that? Well, think about the earlier origins of organisations. You didn’t decide on a career even back then. You’re either born into a certain vocation or chose one that you performed– till you were no longer physically capable of doing it. Senior people just had to make sure that people did these jobs, and then meted out punishment when it wasn’t done properly. When people started to have more choice and freedom about what they did, there also came the choice of not doing it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds So management wasn’t always enough, and people needed to be influenced and motivated to achieve. But leadership isn’t always preferable to management. If there is a policy or process in place that ensures people are doing what they are supposed to, to their best possible ability, then this often works better. The process of influencing and inspiring people takes time and doesn’t always work. But a position description that says you must do X, tends to work far better and more efficiently than the complex dance of leading a group of people to do something that they otherwise would not do. So don’t always think that leadership is better than management, but whether you have the capacity to exercise leadership depends on your power.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds We will explore that in the next activity. Warren Bennis came out with a neat distinction between the two, which we still use to this day.

Are you a leader or a manager?

A manager is not always a leader and a leader is definitely not always a manager.

This week we shift from a general understanding of leaders and leadership to how you practice leadership at work. You’ll explore the various ways in which you can use your power to influence others, as well as why everyone sees leadership differently.

Your task

Watch the video and then, based on this table, identify three managers who are also leaders in your workplace (include yourself in this scenario).

Management Leadership
Promoting change Designing change
Organising people Inspiring people
Consolidate & build Innovate & create
Plan & budget Strategy & vision
Effective action Meaningful action
How, who, when? Why, what, what if?
Reflect status quo Challenge status quo
Do things right Do the right things

Adapted from Bennis, WG 1994, On becoming a leader, 2nd edn, Persueus, MA.​

Which of these management and leadership skills and characteristics do they (and you) exhibit? Share your thoughts in the comments and reflect on what others have posted to identify how you might articulate the difference between managers and leaders in the workplace.


Bennis, WG 1994, On becoming a leader, 2nd edn, Persueus, MA.​

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

What is Leadership?

Deakin University

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join: