Management is doing things right while Leadership is doing the right things

In the dynamic landscape of organizational theory and practice, the dichotomy between management and leadership has long been a subject of scrutiny and debate. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct yet complementary aspects of driving organizational success. One common distinction drawn between the two is encapsulated in the adage, “Management is doing all the right things while Leadership is doing all the right things the right way.” This article delves into this statement, exploring its implications and shedding light on the nuanced differences between management and leadership.

Understanding Management:

Management can be conceptualized as the process of planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling resources to achieve organizational goals efficiently and effectively. At its core, management is about ensuring that tasks are executed, processes are optimized, and resources are utilized in a manner that aligns with the organization’s objectives. Managers are typically responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, making decisions based on established procedures and protocols, and ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget.

Key Attributes of Management:

  1. Operational Focus: Management is primarily concerned with the execution of predefined plans and strategies. Managers focus on maintaining stability, consistency, and predictability within the organization’s operations.
  2. Directive Approach: Managers often adopt a directive approach to decision-making, relying on established rules, policies, and procedures to guide their actions. Authority is vested in their position within the organizational hierarchy.
  3. Efficiency and Optimization: Efficiency is a cornerstone of management. Managers strive to streamline processes, eliminate waste, and maximize productivity to achieve predetermined goals with the available resources.

Exploring Leadership:

Leadership, on the other hand, transcends the realms of management by inspiring and influencing individuals to collectively pursue a shared vision. While management deals with the “what” and “how” of organizational tasks, leadership focuses on the “why” and “where to.” Leaders articulate a compelling vision, motivate teams, and foster innovation and change to adapt to evolving environments.

Key Attributes of Leadership:

  1. Visionary Perspective: Leadership begins with a clear vision of the future and the ability to communicate that vision in a compelling manner. Leaders inspire others by painting a vivid picture of what success looks like and charting the course to achieve it.
  2. Empowerment and Inspiration: Unlike managers who rely on authority, leaders influence through inspiration and empowerment. They cultivate trust, build relationships, and create a culture that encourages initiative, creativity, and growth.
  3. Adaptability and Innovation: Leadership thrives in ambiguity and uncertainty. Leaders embrace change, challenge the status quo, and encourage experimentation to drive innovation and organizational learning.

Bridging the Gap:

While management and leadership represent distinct concepts, effective leadership often entails proficient management skills, and successful managers often exhibit leadership qualities. The statement, “Management is doing all the right things while Leadership is doing all the right things the right way,” underscores the symbiotic relationship between the two.

Synergy between Management and Leadership:

  1. Strategic Alignment: Effective leaders ensure that management practices are aligned with the overarching strategic direction of the organization. They provide clarity of purpose and direction, guiding managerial efforts towards shared goals.
  2. Execution Excellence: Leadership complements management by infusing purpose and passion into the execution of tasks. Leaders inspire commitment and ownership, driving performance beyond mere compliance with directives.
  3. Continuous Improvement: Leadership fosters a culture of continuous improvement by challenging conventional thinking and fostering a spirit of innovation. Managers, in turn, operationalize these innovations, ensuring that they contribute to organizational effectiveness.


In conclusion, while management and leadership serve distinct functions within organizations, they are interdependent and complementary in driving sustainable success. Management focuses on efficiency, stability, and control, while leadership revolves around vision, inspiration, and adaptation. The statement, “Management is doing all the right things while Leadership is doing all the right things the right way,” encapsulates the essence of their respective roles and underscores the importance of balancing both aspects in achieving organizational excellence. Recognizing and nurturing both managerial and leadership capabilities is essential for organizations to thrive in today’s complex and dynamic business environment.