Perhaps because they are both skills attributed to C-suite executives, leadership and management are sometimes used interchangeably when people think about a business education. However, in practice, these are two distinct skillsets for business leaders to learn and develop - and both are essential for success.
Management positions control key decisions and day to day operations across one or more units within an enterprise. Managers are responsible for setting business goals, planning how to achieve them, and overseeing their successful execution.
Leadership, on the other hand, is all about people - and people can’t be ‘managed’ like a spreadsheet or a supply chain! Instead, people need to be led. That means inspiring, coaching, and mentoring your team in a way that reaches them as individuals as well as a group.
In a sense then, management and leadership are two sides of a coin: on the management side, you’re responsible for setting and achieving plans, and on the leadership side, you’re motivating the people responsible for executing them. That’s why the best executives tend to excel at both - and why an education in both can help your career take you to the top of any organization!
Every business needs skilled leadership and management professionals, although the specifics of each company’s organizational chart may vary by company type and size. In the c-suite, virtually every company has at least a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), but many larger companies also have Chief Operations Officers (COO), Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and other executive-level positions. Examples of other management-level positions include directors of sales, communications, development, public affairs or other key business areas, as well as project managers with narrower responsibilities for specific teams and goals. Regardless of the level of the role, any manager overseeing a team will need leadership skills to complement their management capabilities.
People who oversee a team or want to better engage with upper management will benefit most from learning about leadership and management. Learners who have strong organizational and communication skills who want to inspire and engage their colleagues may do well in beginner courses. Learning leadership and management skills is an ongoing process and useful for any level employee to explore.
Anyone with a desire to inspire their team to work smarter and think outside the box is suited for roles in leadership and management. People interested in these roles should have strong communication skills and a strategic vision for their organization. Additionally, the people best suited for positions in leadership and management need to be willing and able to wear many different hats in the organization. People with a positive attitude and listening skills are more likely to succeed in these roles.
Most career paths for someone in leadership and management are positions at the top of the corporate ladder, including chief executive officers, chief financial officers, and chief operating officers. People interested in leading teams may consider career paths that include project manager, plant supervisor, and department supervisor. These career paths require people to work both in an office and on the floor directly with employees. A sales, marketing, or advertising director may manage the day-to-day operations of a team of people while also encouraging employees to reach sales goals and tracking progress each quarter.
Learners exploring leadership and management topics may brush up on related skills revolving around budgeting and allocating resources. For a more in-depth examination of how best to plan for projects, learners may consider topics around initiating and planning. Topics in public speaking may help learners develop and present compelling speeches and presentations. Social media management explores ways to schedule and write posts, how to engage with followers, and ways to establish a presence online. Topics explaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace may help future leaders and managers understand why it is so important to practice inclusiveness in business.