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Leadership vs. Management- Is there a difference?

Editorial Note: This article is provided by our friends at Envisor Consulting, and reprinted here with their permission. While Envisor focuses on landscaping businesses, the following article applies to businesses of all shapes and sizes – and at various points along their business journey.

What is the difference between leadership and management? Are they different? This question has been asked and answered many times and in many ways. The great management guru and author Peter Drucker put it this way:” Leaders do the right things and Managers do things right”. While this may sound cliché and certainly may be a generalization, let’s tear the idea down a bit.

For the sake of this article, let’s assume that in business there are some fundamental components that need to be established in order for an organization to reach its full potential (The Right Things). Questions need to be continually asked and answered including:

  • Vision and Strategy: Where are we going and how will we get there?
  • Culture Building: How will our company Think, Feel and Act on daily basis?
  • Team Building: What kind of structure and talent do we need?
  • Score Keeping: What are the key metrics we need to monitor in order to know if we are winning or losing?

It takes leadership within organizations to initiate and facilitate the answers to these questions. Leaders are typically forward thinking and tend to base their daily decisions on the impact they have on future success.

Additionally within all great organizations, there are individuals who are very good at managing the day-to-day operations in a way that aligns with these key fundamentals (Doing Things Right).

They’re focused on:

  • Managing the tactical initiatives
  • Providing discipline that aligns with the culture
  • Training and mentoring the team
  • Tracking and managing by the metrics.

It takes managers in organizations to ensure that the tactical objectives are being met in the most effective and efficient way. Managers are more focused on the present and tend to base their daily decisions on meeting current benchmarks.

Leadership is a calling. Management is a duty

When I started my first company Landscape Techniques in 1984 I wasn’t thinking about being a leader. I was thinking about survival and how I was going to get all the work done. But as the company grew and more and more people were added. I felt the calling of the team around me to lead. Somebody had to do it.

Leaders lay the rail; Managers drive the train.

As my businesses grew and my role changed, I began to realize that I needed others to help me manage the day-to-day mechanics of the business. In other words, I was better at laying the rail that determined our direction and making sure we were on the right track than I was at driving the train. I learned to surround myself with the people that were strong where I was not.

In closing, let me challenge all of you with a couple of thoughts. Are you a leader or a manager or both? Going forward our goal for you would be that you aspire to be a great at whatever position you hold within your company. If and when leadership calls, step forward and help others to become the very best they can possibly be.

Ken Thomas, Ben Gandy and the Envisor Consulting team will be in the indoor CASE booth (7216) at GIE+EXPO from 10 AM to noon on Thursday, October 17 to take your questions on developing and growing your landscaping business in today's business climate. Envisor team members have run a number of successful landscaping companies and specialize in working with owners to transform their operations into mature and efficient businesses. Learn more about the Envisor Consulting team at

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