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

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

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.

    Like or Dis­like: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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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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  21. Natasha ALi on Mon, 24th Apr 2017 7:52 am
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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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