Management Skills vs Leadership Skills | Commitments of Conscious Leadership #3

Often business owners – particularly small business owners – do not recognize the difference between management skills and leadership skills and are frustrated at the results they are getting because of it.

Though they are not the same thing, leadership and management do need to go hand in hand – they complement each other to accomplish the goals of your company.

Leadership skills include the ability to influence, inspire and motivate people to see the vision and create the desire to reach the goal – contributing toward the success of the company.

Management skills on the other hand involve the ability to manage people and resources successfully in order to deliver a service or product – thereby contributing to the success of the company.

Another difference is that in a leadership position you are usually leading people whereas in a management position, you are often managing work or the work processes and procedures.

Both sets of skills are important for a successful business, but understand that you can learn management knowledge and skills whereas your leadership skills need to be developed.  Management relates more to processes and procedures and leadership tends to be more about personality and experience.  As stated by Steven Covey:  Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline or carrying it out.

In your role as the leader of your company you need to be able to have vision as well as to be able to inspire and motivate your team – and then to carry that over to be able to influence and inspire your clients to move forward with their design project.  You need to be a visionary and to be able to “paint that vision” – both for your clients and for your team.

To quote Warren G. Bennis, “The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.”

You may find as you grow your business you might hire a manager to follow and execute the vision you have set for your firm. As the leader your job is to inspire people, whereas a manager needs to be able to drive people’s success.  A leader looks to the future and imagines that vision while the manager is working in the present to be sure the firm will reach those future goals.  And the leader shapes the culture of the firm while the manager (and the rest of the team) endorses that culture.

Successful firms need leaders to lead the firm and create success in achieving their mission and vision, but they also need effective managers to guarantee that things get done and that the firms’ teams are in sync with the firm’s goals.

Whether you choose to develop and learn both skillsets or focus on your leadership position and hire a manager to assure your vision is a success, remember that your firm’s success depends on having a visionary, inspirational leader with an effective, well-organized manager.

Previous Iterations of Commitments of Conscious Leadership

Are You Committed to Curiosity?

Sustaining Leadership Success Through Emotional Intelligence

Posted in

Drue Lawlor

Pearl Collective Coach Drue Lawlor is a long time Pearl Collective coach. As a NCIDQ certified designer she and Gail co-developed the Strategic Business Transformation Coaching program. The program led the way in teaching designers how to build or redesign their businesses for profit and success. Drue is also a regular contributor to the Pearl Collective Resources library of interior designer business articles. Outside of Pearl Collective she is the co-founder of Boomers with a Plan B. She is driven to help clients create a safer and healthier homes. You’ll find her in Senior Magazine and a contributor to the following books: Design for Aging: Post Occupancy Evaluations and Interior Graphic Standards, second edition.


  1. […] Management Skills vs Leadership Skills […]

Leave a Comment