Managing vs. Leading vs. Directing vs. Guiding vs. Coaching vs. Supervising vs. Perceptions

May 23, 2010 by
Filed under: Leadership 

Managing vs. Leading. I’ve heard many things and read many articles about being a manager versus being a leader. At the same time there have been many articles and seminars on what I’ll call the components of a manager and the components of a leader.

Being a leader. Is it the same as being a manager? Is being a good manager the same as being a good leader?  What does coaching and the ability to coach mean when it comes to being a good manager? When it comes to being a good leader? What does guiding have to do with leadership? With managing With directing? A manager has to know how to plan, organize, direct and control but a leader may not know how to plan, organize,  direct and control. Yet they are still a leader!

Managing vs. Leading vs. Directing vs. Guiding vs. Coaching vs. Supervising

What are some of the differences in the above? The meanings for many of them have some overlap, but they are still words with distinct meaning. Here are some definitions for each (according to WordNet):

Directing – showing the way by conducting or leading; imposing direction on. “felt his mother’s directing arm around him”; “the directional role of science on industrial progress”

Guiding –  direct the course; determine the direction of travelling; exerting control or influence; “a guiding principle”

Coaching – to teach and supervise (someone). The first use of the term coaching to mean an instructor or trainer arose around 1830 in Oxford University slang for a tutor who “carries” a student through an exam.

Supervising – managing by overseeing the performance or operation of a person or group; under observation or under the direction of a superintendent or overseer; “supervised play”.

Managing – (in management) the act of getting people together in order to accomplish desired goals and objectives.

Leading – (in management) the  process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.

It’s easy to see from above that all the words really have a part in working successfully with a group. Sooner or later, every member of the group will personally be involved in performing one of the above. (In the scope of this post, I’m keeping a distinct separation between “Management” and “Managing”. Why? Because, leadership / leading is an intricate part of management. But it is not the same as managing.)

One saying  I often hear is:

Managers do things right, while leaders do the right thing.”

This saying may be a little too blatant for my tastes, but it does shed a little light on the views of each type of position. It means that managers do things by the book and follow company policy, while leaders follow their own intuition, which may be more advantageous to the company. Managers use authoritarian and transactional style, which means subordinates have to follow a manager’s  orders while leaders use charismatic and transformational style, which means followers are inspired to follow their leader’s wishes.

Unlike with managers, people follow a leader on their own choice but people have to obey a manager.  In a way, a leader’s authority is derived from effectively balancing the task of being a genuinely accepted member of a group, while having adequate detachment to constantly adjust the course the group is heading. Groups are also usually more loyal to a leader than a manager because the leader is responsible in taking the blame when things go wrong. When things go right, the leader is often last person to accept any recognition for it. He/she often will recognize and thank the group for the success.

In the motivation department, a leader will often use passions and incite emotions to motivate people.  A manager on the other hand will not often use the language of emotions or passions but more often use logical and official methods to motivate people to complete a task. This is why leaders can be seen to be more emotional than a manager.

Risk

“Leaders stand out by being different. They question assumption and are suspicious of tradition. They seek out the truth and make decisions based on fact, not prejudice. They have a preference for innovation.” – John Fenton

Leaders will often appear to be risk-seeking while managers may often appear to be more risk-averse. Therefore, managers look for comfort and seek to avoid conflict where possible while leaders are comfortable with risk by finding ways others avoid and willing to break rules (within reason) in order to get things done.

Leadership. It’s really about coaching, guiding, and inspiring others to reach a goal. Sometimes a leader will stand in front, sometimes to the side, sometimes even behind the people he or she is trying to help reach a goal.

Even if we don’t formally have anyone reporting to us within an organization, we are still leaders because everyone in one form or another has the ability to influence others. So Where Do You Fit In? Manager or Leader? How do you see yourself? The decision one makes about that will determine where they go in an organization (and most likely the way they are seen as well).

Here are Some Great Books that I Highly Recommend on the Above!


If you have any comments on any of the above, or if you have additional thoughts to add, please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below.

Thanks and Take Care!

Gil

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Comments

12 Intelligent Opinions, Leave Yours on Managing vs. Leading vs. Directing vs. Guiding vs. Coaching vs. Supervising vs. Perceptions

  1. Mike Anderson on Tue, 25th May 2010 3:31 pm
  2. I love this post Gil. I haven’t yet seen the juxtaposition of the different management concepts. Each has an important part to play, but each is uniquely different in and itself.

    Thanks!!

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Cynthia Toscano-Lopez on Thu, 27th May 2010 2:16 pm
  4. Hi Gil, great topic!
    Here is my 2-cents: (who says you have to be one or the other?)

    From the perpective of the confines of the organization’s tangible structures (i.e. processes, methods, corporate policies, metrics, etc.) the manager is the one whose role is to follow that structure and ensure that the employees they manage do so as well, in order to meet the short-term goals set forth for the organization. Their success is measured by how well they keep to that given structure.

    Given that same perspective, the leader is the one who transcends the boundaries of the organizational structure and sees the bigger picture of how the organization “could be”, therefore look at the longer term goals. In your quote above “managers do things right, leaders do the right thing”, it enforces the concept that the “right thing” may not be what the current structure of the organization is at the moment, but by “leading” the leader is able to shift and help change the organization to its new “normal structure”. This then becomes the “new organizational structure” by which the managers can manage to and produce the necessary results to succeed at that point in time.

    The point here is, we shouldn’t look at trying to be a leader if we are good managers, or trying to manage when we were given the gift of leading. Both aspects of an individual equally contribute to the success the organization. This cycle of constant changing organizational structure is attributed to the visionary leaders, and the implementation of that vision is carried out by the ever meticulous managers.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. Gil Pizano on Sat, 29th May 2010 12:25 am
  6. Thanks Cynthia! You are so right in that a person can be both and in that depending upon where they are and what specifically they are working on at a particular moment, a person may need to be a leader or need to be a manager. The success of any organization is only possible with many individuals being both a manager and a leader. The important thing is knowing when to be one or the other. 🙂

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Kevin Davis on Fri, 6th Jun 2014 3:53 pm
  8. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about this topic in business school. Leadership often gets confused with management. There are so many definitions and examples of what a leader is but each are unique to the individual and situation. Whatever business you are in, learn to stand out and influence a community.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. John on Tue, 2nd Sep 2014 6:28 am
  10. Awesome clear differentiation of Directing, Coaching, Managing and Leading. I really enjoyr reading your post. Looking forward for more great post from you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Jerry Miller on Mon, 29th Sep 2014 12:33 pm
  12. Hey Gil, thanks for pointing the difference and definition of these six words. They may somehow be synonymous but they are different and unique.

    Magnicom

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Drug Possession on Wed, 13th May 2015 3:39 am
  14. very nice dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of Direct­ing, Coach­ing, Man­ag­ing and Lead­ing.its very helpful. thanx for this useful information.

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  17. sani ur rehman on Mon, 24th Apr 2017 7:51 am
  18. We’ve spent quite a few time communicate­ing approximately this topic in busi­ness college. Lead­er­deliver often gets con­fused with man­age­ment. there are such a lot of def­i­n­i­tions and examination­ples of what a leader is but each are precise to the indi­vid­ual and sit down­u­a­tion. What­ever busi­ness you are in, learn to stand out and influ­ence a network.
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  19. sani ur rehman on Mon, 24th Apr 2017 7:52 am
  20. Awe­some clear dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of Direct­ing, coach­ing, man­ag­ing and Lead­ing. I absolutely enjoyr study­ing your publish. look­ing for­ward for more superb publish from you.
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  23. aqsa on Mon, 24th Apr 2017 7:54 am
  24. i like this post Gil. I haven’t yet visible the jux­ta­po­si­tion of the dif­fer­ent man­age­ment con­cepts. each has an impor­tant element to play, but every is uniquely dif­fer­ent in and itself.
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