Managing vs. Leading | Coursera Community
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Managing vs. Leading

  • 19 December 2018
  • 5 replies

Userlevel 7
  • Community Manager
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When I was studying for my social work degree, I took a course called Theories of Leadership. In the course, we explored the difference between managing a team and leading a team.

If you do an online search for "managing vs. leading" you'll get a lot of articles from places including the Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

In your opinion, what's the difference between managing and leading?

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For me the difference between managing and leading is, "managing" you administrate something. "leading" is for me you have new ideas, go new ways or you can say think different as conventional.

I would classify a CEO, or a Board member in the category "managing." Leaders are for me founders, and entrepreneurs.
Userlevel 6
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@ Laura, great question that you posed!

Having read many articles on the subject and working for a living in multiple industries in different capacities, I would characterize the main differences as "managing" emphasizes more on efficiency and tactics including organization issues whereas "leading" emphasizes more on vision, direction, culture and long term strategy. Of course, there are overlaps of these characteristics at different levels of an organization. I have great fortune to work with great managers and leaders in my working life.

As for @Marcus' comment on Board Member, most of them are great managers or leaders in other organizations or else they are not likely be recruited to be on the Board. They are not in the category of "managing" except in their own company.
Userlevel 4
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@ele81946: For sure board members are managers or leaders in other organizations, but in the company where they sit on the board, they are in a managing position.

Maybe we have a bit misunderstanding, because i see this from the "german perspective": Here in Germany the Board are only for supervision, mostly known as "two tier system." In other countries - include the us- they use a "one tier system." It was not my goal to depreciate managers or leaders from other organizations the sit in Boards.
Userlevel 5
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Hi Laura,


A simple way of distinguishing ‘Managing’ and ‘Leading’.

If an executive in an organization is using his formal power, coercive power and reward power to get his subordinates to work, he is managing. 


If an executive is using his charismatic power and expert power, setting an example to his subordinates, helping them to develop and builds a coherent team  in the process of making them work, he is leading. 


The manager has responsibilities and is able to delegate and implement plans. A leader is an example for others and is someone who doesn't necessarily have a large responsibility. Managers have subordinates who follow their rules. Leaders have individuals who believe in what they say, otherwise known as followers.

Here's the difference between leading and managing a team. 

What's the difference between leading and managing a team? ... Managers typically focus more on the execution piece, working in the business. By contrast, real leadership means providing a compelling vision and clear direction.


hope this helps !