The fundamental difference between leading and managing

Leaders influence. Managers direct.

Well, actually, it’s not that black and white.

Leaders generally do focus on what matters and why as managers focus on how. Both use different forms of influence and direction at different times. But leaders have a bias to influencing by inspiring and enabling through advice and counsel while managers have a bias to command and control.

Leadership is focussed on others and starts with self & their people, inspiring them to think beyond the “now” whereas management is about how you do things i.e. processes, planning and other the technical elements.

Leaders are conscious of how their emotions influence their behaviours (as well as how their behaviour influence other people’s emotions) whereas managers don’t consider this as important or necessary to consider for the task at hand.

This isn’t to say though that one is better than the other. Both roles are equally important. It’s the essential interplay between the two roles that can be tricky to navigate. So what does the road from manager to leader look like?

According to the World Economic Forum, 1 of the top leadership skills that will see you thrive in 2020 (yes, that’s next year…!) as determined by 350 executives, 9 industries & 15 of the world’s biggest economies is Emotional Intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is the factor outside of how intellectual you are that is going to determine how successful you are and also the Number 1 leadership skill that separates managers from leaders.

So, what does EQ in action look like?

In essence, EQ is a set of emotional & social skills that influence the way that you: – Perceive and express yourself – Develop and maintain social relationships – Cope with challenges – Use emotional information in an effective & meaningful way

There are five components of Emotional Intelligence. They are:


    If you’re self-aware, you always know how you feel, and you know how your emotions and your actions can affect the people around you. Being self-aware when you’re in a leadership position also means having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, and it means behaving with humility.

    Our top tip for improving self-awareness? Slow down. When you experience anger or other strong emotions, slow down to examine why. Remember, no matter what the situation, you can always choose how you react to it.


    Leaders who regulate themselves effectively rarely verbally attack others, make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people, or compromise their values. Self-regulation is all about staying in control.

    So, how can you improve your ability to self-regulate? Hold yourself accountable. If you tend to blame others when something goes wrong, stop. Make a commitment to admit to your mistakes and to face the consequences, whatever they are. You’ll probably sleep better at night, and you’ll quickly earn the respect of those around you.


    Self-motivated leaders work consistently toward their goals, and they have extremely high standards for the quality of their work.

    How can you improve your motivation? Remember your “why”. The reason you get out of bed in the morning. The reason you took your role in the first place. The goal that you are working words. Your motivation is a key source of your teams motivation and you have a responsibility as a leader to ensure you keep them motivated.


    For leaders, having empathy is critical to managing a successful team or organisation. Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it. Earn the respect and loyalty of your team & show them you care by being empathic.

    How can you improve your empathy? Put yourself in someone else’s position – It’s easy to support your own point of view. But take the time to look at situations from other people’s perspectives.


    Leaders who do well in the social skills element of emotional intelligence are great communicators. They’re just as open to hearing bad news as good news, and they’re expert at getting their team to support them and be excited about a new mission or project. Leaders who have good social skills are also good at managing change and resolving conflicts diplomatically.

    So, how can you build social skills? Improve your communication skills. Do you consider the intent of the message? The background that’s maybe needed for context? The ideal channel for this?

While, research does suggest that high levels of emotional intelligence can help predict leadership success, while low levels of emotional intelligence in other areas can predict leadership derailment, emotional Intelligence is just one component in the leadership skills pie. The transition from manager to leader requires continued development & discipline.

Did you find these helpful? How do you think you stack up? What is your experience with the 5 key components? Is Emotional Intelligence a skill that you’d like to develop in 2019? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Just email us here.

Till then,
The Dream Team


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