What’s The Difference Between Leadership And Management


Leaders and managers are the two different sides on the coin of success.

Leaders set the direction, they show the way, they set the ambition level and inspire us to move towards the goal.  Leaders create the pull.

Managers focus on the planning, details, monitoring, progress chasing, ensuring that day after day we are closer to our goal.  Managers stand behind us and push.

With good Leadership and Management we can achieve almost anything, and the relationship between leader and manager is crucial to our success.

My real understanding of the differences between the two roles came from reading histories of Rome, and how the Roman Army was organised.

The Roman army was broken down into centuries of men, which could vary in size from 60-200 men depending on the overall size of the army.

These Centuries were led by a Centurion, and his Optio as his second in command, basically they operated in tandem as Leader and Manager of the Century.

Centurions usually led from the front, occupying a position at the front right of the century formation. They often suffered heavy casualties in battle, generally fighting alongside the men they commanded. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that may have brought them to their rank in the first place. It is for these reasons that they often suffered a disproportionate number of casualties.

The optio was stationed at the rear of the ranks to keep the troops in order. Their duties would include enforcing the orders of the centurion, taking over the centurion’s command in battle should the need arise, supervising his subordinates, and a variety of administration duties.

This clear descriptions explains the difference between the role of the Leader/Centurion and Manager/Optio.

Often in business, one person occupies both roles, which makes the job difficult.

Ideally, as leaders, we should look to identify a second in command who can perform the role of manager, which then allows us to focus on leading, standing at the front, setting the example, and showing the way. If we can do that, then we will share the burden, and increase the probability of success.