Management vs Leadership
By Matt Connell
Program Director, Business Administration
One thing that strikes me when having conversations about leadership and management is the common view that they are synonymous. Often I find myself engaged in discussions with students and faculty about whether leadership and management are different, what makes them so, and also what makes them the same. That’s the thing: on some levels they are synonymous, yet there are also vast differences between the two.
Management is a quantifiable action. It is based on and responds to data. The manager uses that data to hire and staff, and to determine and run production.
Leadership is qualitative. It is not easily measured in a quantifiable way, but has a profound and lasting impact on an organization or group. Leadership is actions and words, the way one acts and communicates with the environment and stakeholders.
Take the current world climate with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc globally. Industries are being shaken to their cores. Businesses are shrinking or closing. The data suggest people should be laid off and furloughed, that businesses should close their doors. Management is seeing the data, looking at the larger landscape, and making the hard decisions. The leadership is in how you communicate the hard facts.
There are many businesses right now that find themselves in this situation. Some of these businesses are managing the problem. Closing and furloughing without compassion. Without empathy. They are calculating the facts and letting people go.
Other businesses are managing the data from a position of leadership. They are being upfront with employees, expressing sadness or remorse when communicating with who that are being affected. They are taking pay cuts, or involving employees in the conversation to work through solutions. That is leadership. Leadership inspires. Leadership is compassionate and empathic. Leadership aims to bring awareness and humanity to the situation that must be managed.
Matt Connell is an assistant professor in the Business Administration program at Goodwin University and currently serves as the program director. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from Evergreen State College, a master’s degree in Special Education from St. Joseph College, a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford, and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. His doctoral studies focused on Group Emotional Intelligence and its effect on organizations.