Leadership vs. Management - successful change management

Leadership vs. Management, what exactly are the differences? And what does it take in both areas to meet the current challenges as a real leader? How can you set the course for successful change management with a combination of leadership and management? This article provides an overview and concrete examples of the differences between leadership and management and shows how you can use both for change management in your company. Finally, you will learn how you can raise your skills to a level of excellence in both areas.

Leadership vs. Management: This is how leadership works in 2024

Leader vs. manager? Definitely a leader!

When I tell you that most managers aren't actually good leaders, you as a manager shake your head - startup nonsense again, hipster blah blah? Bullshit – finally think again and become really successful! Can we continue to be content with our leaders simply juggling the numbers while their team's true potential lies untapped? It's time to break down the boundaries between management and leadership and usher in a new era of leadership!

But why is this conflict coming up more today than, for example, in the 80s? Are there more changes today that affect market stability or the growth of a company? Is it therefore in today's context? Change management Is it often more important to emphasize leadership than pure management? Yes! There are more changes and uncertainties in the market environment and business landscape today than in the 80s. These changes can be due to a variety of factors. These include technological advances, globalization, changing consumer preferences, economic developments and political changes. 

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Title Buzzwords and false expectations

The business world is rich in titles such as chief, manager, senior manager and (team) leader. But between these terms lies a real gulf of meaning. While a manager is concerned with managing things and making processes efficient, a leader goes far beyond that. A manager can juggle the numbers and optimize processes, but a true leader inspires, motivates and leads his team to peak performance. Management is a skill, leadership is an art. And here lies the gap that many companies have overlooked.

In a world characterized by change and uncertainty, we can no longer afford to confuse managers with leadership skills. It's time to question the status quo: Are our managers really leaders – or just managers in a leadership position?

While most managers may be able to direct their team's fortunes, few are truly able to shape a vision, win hearts, and create an environment where creativity and innovation thrive. The world doesn't need more managers - it needs leaders who have the courage to question the norms and break new ground. It is time we recognize the difference between management and leadership and encourage leaders to combine both aspects. Only through the combination of efficient management and inspiring leadership can we meet the challenges of the future and create real change. Let us pave the way to a new era of leadership together. It is important to understand where the terms management and leadership originally come from.

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Where do the terms management and leadership come from?

The concept of management has its origins in the early 20th century, particularly in the work of Henri Fayol and Frederick Winslow Taylor, who developed principles for organizing and controlling businesses. Fayol coined the term “management” and laid down basic principles of business management. Taylor is known for his scientific management theory, which focused on optimizing work processes.

Leadership, on the other hand, is a timeless concept that has existed since time immemorial. It goes far beyond management and refers to the ability to inspire, motivate and lead others. Although it is difficult to pinpoint an exact point in time for the origin of the leadership concept, leadership principles and examples can be traced back in history to ancient times.

Leadership vs. Management: Which is more important?

It depends on the focus

The question of whether leadership or management is more important is complex and depends on various factors, including the contexts in which they are applied. Management is crucial for the efficient organization and execution of tasks and processes within a company. It involves planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling resources to achieve defined goals. Without effective management, companies may struggle to achieve their operational goals and achieve long-term success.

Leadership on the other hand, is crucial for inspiring, motivating and aligning a team or organization towards common goals and visions. A good leader can push people to do their best and encourage innovation and creativity. Leadership is often closely linked to creating a positive company culture and can help increase employee retention and engagement.

In reality, both leadership and management are important: the best results are achieved when both aspects are combined effectively. Ideally, a leader should have both strong management and leadership skills to maximize the performance and well-being of their team or organization. Management and leadership are only of different importance depending on the situation; in the end, a manager needs both!

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Concrete examples

There are concrete situations, where management is particularly important, and others where leadership is crucial. Here are some examples:


  • When executing a complex project that requires clear planning, organization and resource allocation.
  • In times of crisis or chaos, when rapid decision making and efficient resource management are required to restore stability.
  • In large companies with extensive structures and processes where a clear hierarchy and effective coordination are required to ensure smooth workflows.



  • In driving innovation and change in an organization that requires creative ideas and new ways to promote growth and competitiveness.
  • In crises that require strong leadership to inspire, reassure and motivate employees as they navigate through difficult times.
  • In developing a company culture based on values ​​such as trust, collaboration and commitment to promote employee retention and satisfaction.


In many cases the two overlap – so there is no real “leadership vs. management”. A successful leader must be able to use both effective management techniques and inspirational leadership skills - depending on the needs of the situation.

Change Management

In an increasingly volatile and uncertain world Leadership in the context of change management often be more important than pure management. While management aims to efficiently manage the existing processes and operations, leadership aims to address change, promote innovation and lead the team or organization through uncertain times.

Effective leadership in the context of change management includes the ability to... clear vision to develop for the future, to communicate and convey changes, to motivate and mobilize employees, to overcome resistance and to promote a culture of adaptability and agility.

In times of change, companies' needs and requirements can change quickly, and leaders must be able to respond flexibly and find new ways to be successful. While management remains important for efficiently managing day-to-day business operations, leadership can often make the difference between success and failure. An individual manager needs both, leader and manager at the same time. The individual situation then determines which ability needs to be played. This versatility is what makes a leader truly successful!

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Can I learn leadership and management specifically?

Do I have to be a “born leader”?

Can I become a good leader? To a certain extent, yes! Basically, everyone can learn leadership and develop good leadership qualities. Leadership is not an exclusively innate quality, but rather a skill that can be developed through learning, experience and practical application.

There are many different approaches to learning leadership, including formal training, mentoring, practical experiences and self-reflection. Some people may naturally be talented leaders or have certain personality traits that help them become effective leaders, but even for these individuals, continuous development and learning is important to improve their skills and adapt to challenges.

There are a variety of skills and characteristics that can contribute to effective leadership, including communication, empathy, decision-making, conflict resolution, vision and inspiration. Through targeted training and practical experience, people can develop and strengthen these skills, regardless of their starting point.

It is important to emphasize that leadership is not one size fits all and that different leaders can be effective in different ways. By Understand your own strengths and weaknesses and continually develop your skills, people of all backgrounds and levels of experience can become good leaders.

How do I become a good manager?

And what about management? Similar to leadership, management can also be learned and improved. Management refers to the ability to organize resources, control processes and achieve goals. It often includes tasks such as planning, organizing, controlling and coordinating.

As with leadership, there are different ways management can be learned. This includes formal training, professional experience, mentoring, continuing education and self-study. Many colleges and universities offer management courses that provide theoretical knowledge and practical skills. Additionally, practical experience in the work environment can be crucial to developing and refining management skills. By taking responsibility, solving problems, collaborating with others, and learning best practices, aspiring managers can improve their skills.

It is important to note that management is often associated with specific technical skills, which may vary depending on the industry or field. These technical skills can be learned and developed through education, training and experience. Overall, management is a skill that can be developed, and as with leadership, people can become good managers through continuous learning, practical experience and self-reflection.

How well you have to master (change) management and leadership clearly depends on your hierarchical position in the company. In lower management, basic skills are enough; in top management, excellence is required in both areas.

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A true leader in today's world must be both a manager and a leader. Without good management, operational business does not run smoothly: processes must be organized efficiently and resources must be planned sensibly.

At the same time, leadership is crucial to inspire a team, shape vision and not only maintain the status quo, but also drive innovation. Especially when there are major changes in the company, it is essential to combine change management with leadership.

You can expand both management and leadership skills through practical experience and targeted training. This way you can exploit the full potential of your team and reliably achieve your goals.

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