We often throw around the words leadership and management as though they are interchangeable terms. They are not. Leadership and management are different.

Blanchard offers what I think is one of the simplest, but best definitions of leadership. Anytime you are seeking to influence another person you are leading.

Covey paints a wonderful illustration to explain the difference between leadership and management. Imagine, if you will, a team of people clearing a path through a dense jungle. The only tools they have are machetes, axes and saws. The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree and yells, “this way, clear this way.” The manager is the one organising the people, creating rosters to ensure the work gets done as efficiently and effectively as possible. Together the destination is reached.

Both leadership and management are necessary, but they are two different sets of skills. Some people are excellent managers, but are not leaders. These people make excellent 2ICs. Some leaders are terrible managers, but they can effectively garner the trust of those people following them in order to achieve a vision. It is the rare few who have both sets of skills.

It is funny how the marketplace is filled with leadership development courses, but few on management training. Somehow the concept of management isn’t as appealing. We forget that without brilliant managers, a leader’s vision will never come to fruition.

To be truly effective and credible, one who has empathy for the people they seek to lead, I would argue that you need both sets of skills. Your passion for leadership will be shaped on the factory floor where you learn the trade and observe how leaders before you effectively influence the people around them.