What is More Challenging? Leading vs Managing

leading Mervyn Emmanuel  |   4 mins read November 4, 2020 | 50 eye icon

Both leading and managing are critical roles that are required to achieve success within the corporate industry.

For decades, the two roles of leading and managing have frequently given rise to the question as to which one of these two are more challenging. Both leading and managing are critical roles that are required to achieve success within the corporate industry. One should not play one role over the other by harshly criticizing one and placing the other on a pedestal. It is vitally important to understand that the individual who is a leader or manager must know his or her potential and should have the ability to execute their authority effectively.

Most managers by virtue of their job description have to instruct their staff and this at most times can cause estrangement between the manager and staff. The leader, on the other hand, possesses an innate gift that attracts people, creating a following who will adhere to his vision. People follow leaders by choice; they obey the instructions of managers because of their jobs and if they don’t, they face the consequences of their actions. Managers are not leaders by default. However, if they do not possess the qualities of a leader, then they may acquire the same in order to function efficiently and effectively while leaders have the ability not only to lead but they also possess managerial skills as well.

Although there is much to debate about these two roles, it has been discovered over the years that there is a lot to being a leader than just being a manager. To be a leader, one has to possess the three simple qualities of being insightful, empathetic and diligent. Managing people is also not an easy task. It certainly requires hard work. People are uniquely designed with different personality traits, desires, and motivating factors. The old saying still resonates to this day, “Where there are people, you will always have problems.”

Dealing with people has many challenges as each human being possesses their own strengths and weaknesses and being in management, one has to find amicable solutions in order to bring out the best in your employees and to ensure the smooth running of the organization.

Though managing maybe difficult at times, leading is tougher than managing. As a leader one is required to motivate and inspire people to latch onto their vision and enable them to follow and be part of the journey in accomplishing the vision. The leader should possess the charisma and a natural gift to connect people to a common goal by tapping into their inner being and keeping them engaged on what is to unfold in the near future.

To be an effective leader is not as easy as some people think it is. A leader should be like a shepherd that leads the sheep. In other words, a shepherd leads from the front so that if he encounters any danger or any pitfalls, he will be able to contend with the issue firsthand and will be able to protect his “sheep” or people from any harm or danger. You are accountable for your business and the people you lead. It is your duty to be able to guide your people to “greener pastures.”

A true leader doesn’t push the buck over but leads with resilience, tenacity, true grit and unwavering hope. Followers will look to a leader during a time of crisis for guidance and to draw assurance that all is going to be well. Through ongoing inspiration and motivation, a good leader can bring about a transformation in an entire organization for the better. It is said that a leader is “the heart of the business”, and, if this is so, then if the heart skips a beat or has palpitations, the whole company is in trouble. So there is much on the shoulders of a leader to carry his people through good times and bad times.

The manager has to act on the basis of his job description and it is vital for both roles to be prevalent in the industry in order to be successful. Both roles have their challenges but it’s leading that is a lot tougher, though many critics may differ in their opinion.

Dr Mervyn Emmanuel
Head of Academic Delivery and Student Engagement
Athena Global Education

Dr. Mervyn Emmanuel is a native South African, who holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with 20 years of teaching experience inclusive of counseling, training, and formulating educational programs for universities and colleges of higher education. During his long and distinguished career, he created, facilitated, and delivered specialized training in Educational Psychology, Organizational Behaviorism, and Business Management Skills.


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