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The Distinction between Leadership and Management

Leadership and management are falsely understood as similar concepts, although they have some common features. Nonetheless, the former is more about the ability of an individual to make others follow his or her ideas and strategies, whereas the latter is more about controlling and allocating tasks, scheduling, monitoring performance, and reporting about potential achievements and gaps. It relates more to mechanical work rather than creative one of a specific person endowed with all relevant features. Hence, both leadership and management should be represented in the sphere of healthcare to assure effective performance and accomplishment of all duties and responsibilities, as well as the proper delivery of high quality services.

Differences between a leader and a manager are as follows. First of all, the former is represented as a charismatic personality who has specific psychological traits that attract followers and make them dedicated to this individual rather. Hence, a leader creates rather than counts value, admitting that the one is to choose specific goals and issues to be solved, whereas managers only focus on the very process of the accomplishment of specific goals. In healthcare, nurse leaders are change-makers, who can contribute to the productivity and performance of their followers, whereas managers just keep controlling that the process of accomplishment is done in accordance with established norms (Keys, 2014). Further, the first are persons who can be addressed for advice rather than those to whom nurses should provide reports on the state of things. Therefore, a leader is considered to be the brain center, where all creative ideas and fresh insights are generated.

In fact, leadership and management have some features in common, such as the need of pursuing specific goals, distributing obligations, and developing systems of reporting and monitoring; an alternative managerial structure will be a chaos, leading to a failure and the ineffectiveness of work. According to Brunetto et al. (2012), a manager cannot be considered a person who can impose some obligations of developing new goals and missions and be more flexible as compared to a leader who is self-conscious and goal-oriented, being open to changes.

The final and the most important point is that leadership is more about leading people, whereas management deals mainly with managing work. Jennings, Scalzi, Rodgers, and Keane (2007) underline the significance and relevance of transformational leadership in nursing in contrast to management, assuming that effective leadership is represented as a crucial issue in developing fruitful patient outcomes and improving workplace conditions. Furthermore, transformational leadership concerns primarily the need for constant change and adjustment to internal and external challenges. Furthermore, Wong and Laschinger (2013) have assumed that authentic performance is possible to reach through effective leadership. In such a way, a nursing team can become less vulnerable to changes, accepting improvements and handling emerging threats and problems effectively. Constant monitoring of self-determination and professional growth of each member of a team by a leader can significantly contribute to the welfare of any healthcare organization.

It can be assumed that leadership deals directly with change, whereas management is more about control (Weng, Huang, Chen, & Chang, 2015). In this respect, working in the healthcare environment, many leaders and managers have different orientation and psychological traits that can distinguish them from each other. Hence, a nurse leader in our unit is more goal-oriented and interested in integrating changes and innovations. He is more creative and open-minded. However, there are also shift managers, whose major task is just to control the proper management of all duties and responsibilities of the staff.

In conclusion, it can be argued that leadership and management differ in terms of personality assessment, value creation, and the influence of power. A leader is a person who can create value and can give a recommendation and advice to the staff. Furthermore, this person should have respective traits to lead people. In contrast, a manager is the one who controls the process of the accomplishment of specific goals and missions. The one reports rather than provides an advice and a recommendation. Finally, a manager is the one who deals with managing tasks and goals. Hence, in nursing, both aspects play an important role in advancing the quality of care and promoting constant improvement of employment conditions and cooperation.


Brunetto, Y., Shacklock, K., Bartram, T., Leggat, S., Farr-Wharton, R., Stanton, P., & Casimir, G. (2012). Comparing the impact of leader–member exchange, psychological empowerment and affective commitment upon Australian public and private sector nurses: implications for retention. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(11), 2238-2255.

Jennings, B. M., Scalzi, C. C., Rodgers, J. D., & Keane, A. (2007). Differentiating nursing leadership and management competencies. Nursing Outlook, 55(4), 169-175.

Keys, Y. (2014). Looking ahead to our next generation of nurse leaders: Generation X nurse managers. Journal of Nursing Management, 22(1), 97–105. doi: 10.1111/jonm.12198

Weng, R. H., Huang, C. Y., Chen, L. M., & Chang, L. (2015). Exploring the impact of transformational leadership on nurse innovation behavior: A cross-sectional study. Nursing Management, 23(4), 427-439.

Wong, C. A., & Laschinger, H. K. (2013). Authentic leadership, performance, and job satisfaction: The mediating role of empowerment. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(4), 947-959.