Leadership Development vs Management Training: Which to Prioritize in 2021?

When you’re thinking about professional development goals for 2021, have you decided to focus on management or leadership?

This might feel like a trick question. What do we mean by “management” and “leadership”? Are we referring to job titles within an organization, or are we talking about something broader, like skillsets or character traits? Aren’t the terms “management” and “leadership” interchangeable? After all, don’t leaders need to manage? Don’t managers need to lead?

In fact, management and leadership are not the same. And if you want to successfully develop your organization’s capacity – or improve your own professional skills – it’s important to understand the difference.

Do any of the following sound familiar in your organization?

“I want to delegate, but I don’t have time.”

“I need to know how to give effective feedback to my staff.”

“I don’t have the right knowledge or resources to solve the challenges I’m facing.”

“I can’t motivate my managers and build capacity in the organization at the same time.”

“I’m struggling to meet the needs of the board in addition to the needs of my staff.”

Some of these challenges are best solved via management training, some are better addressed through leadership training.

Once you understand the differences between leadership and management, you’ll be able to:

  • Accurately identify and assess your current gaps and opportunities
  • Choose the right kind of professional development for you or for your organization

This article is going to clarify:

Clarifying the Difference between Management and Leadership

So, what is the difference between management and leadership? And why does it matter?

Let’s ignore job titles for a moment and think about these two concepts as practices which involve unique skillsets, competencies, and objectives.

Leadership is about doing the right things

Leadership is about the big picture – things like vision, strategy, change management, governance, strategic communications, etc.

It’s about setting an organization’s vision, nurturing the culture of the work environment, and ensuring this culture always aligns with the values of the organization. Leadership involves strategy, vision, and guiding change. Great leaders inspire, motivate, and align people towards a common cause.

Management is about doing things right

Management is about implementation, and the mechanics of team dynamics – executing plans, building and developing teams, establishing systems for effective operations and internal communications, etc.

It’s about developing systems and processes to execute the strategy and objectives of the organization in order to achieve the larger vision. Managers create and foster a functional work culture, guiding and collaborating with staff to help implement plans and directives. Effective managers are problem solvers who know how to leverage their people’s strengths in order to get things done.

Here is a handy summary chart for comparison.

  Leadership Management
Area of Concern Doing the right things Doing things right
  • Vision
  • Strategy
  • Change management
  • Governance
  • Strategic communications
  • Executing plans
  • Building and developing teams
  • Establishing systems for effective operations
  • Internal communications
Symptoms of practice gone wrong
  • Vague strategic direction
  • Weak connection between the vision and mission, and the actual work being done each day
  • Pursuing the “wrong” goals as an organization
  • Weak or non-existent succession planning
  • Unclear prioritization of longer-term goals and direction of a team or organization
  • Ineffective or unproductive meetings
  • Lack of implementation of the organizational strategy
  • Team or departmental objectives not being met
  • Ineffective systems that hinder operations
  • Confusion resulting from a lack of processes
  • Ineffective intra-team communications
  • Mismatch between team members’ strengths and their roles
  • Unclear prioritization of short term goals and objectives on a team
What does success look like? Great leaders inspire, motivate, and align people towards a common cause. Effective managers are problem solvers who know how to leverage their people’s strengths in order to get things done.

Leadership and Management Skills are Complementary

Both strong leaders and strong managers are essential to a successful organization. But leadership and management are not interchangeable – being a good leader doesn’t necessarily mean you’re effective at managing others, or at developing people who will manage others well. And being a successful manager doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve honed the right skills that would make you an effective leader.

The Collaborative Relationship of Leadership and Management

Leadership and Management are practices that intersect in an organization – through people, strategy, and systems. While leaders and managers need to overlap and co-exist to foster growth, spur innovation, and support change, they do require different skillsets.

Organizations can’t effectively accomplish goals or develop cohesive teams if they rely only on leadership or only on management. Organizations need leaders with managerial understanding and managers with leadership qualities. Learning when and how to lead or manage requires practice, skill, and knowledge. Developing the strengths and skillsets of the individuals who lead and who manage is vital to the overall well-being of the organization and the people in it.


What Kind of Professional Development does your Organization Need?

Every supervisory role (a position with direct reports) is made up of a varying mix of leadership and management expectations and requirements. In general, the more senior a position in an organization, the more likely the position skews towards requiring leadership competencies to be highly effective.

Ask yourself: which objectives are most relevant to you right now?

Objectives that are served by Management Training

  • I want to help my team get things done through others more effectively.
  • It feels like we always need to get more done with less time and fewer staff.
  • I’d like to develop more cohesion and effective collaboration among my management team.
  • We don’t have a formal training program for staff who are promoted into management or supervisory positions.

If any of these statements resonated, then you would likely benefit from investing in supporting and developing your organization’s managers.

Objectives that are Served by Leadership Training

  • I would like to learn how to set direction and articulate my vision for the organization.
  • I want to learn how to be more strategic in a senior role I currently hold (or will hold in the near future).
  • I’m looking to develop someone on my team for succession into a key leadership position.

If any of the above statements resonated, then you’d be well served to invest in leadership development – for yourself, and/or for key staff members you had in mind while answering.


Laridae Provides a “How to” Training for Leaders and Managers

In our work with organizations across the province and beyond, we have spent a lot of time listening to non-profit leaders and managers.

They tell us about the ups and the downs of doing important, mission-driven work. About their hopes and their fears; the unpredictability of funding, policy, and changing circumstances; the worries about burnout – for themselves and others.

We hear about the creativity of non-profit professionals; their commitment to those they serve, the “multiple hat wearing”, and the dedication to “making it work” despite the challenges that come up. We hear about their ideas, their needs, and their beliefs about building a better future.

These experiences motivated us to think of ways we could better support leaders and managers, and spurred the development of our training programs, which we designed exclusively for non-profits – to help build capacity on teams, in organizations, and across communities.

Management Training Program

Our Management Training Program supports the organization in establishing common language and management practices – building healthy teams, collaborative approaches, and building capacity for achieving the organization’s objectives and vision.

Leadership Development Program

Our Leadership Development Program enhances the understanding of key non-profit leadership competencies. Leaders learn about leading the organization through vision, and how to start setting up their organization up for strategic success.

Both programs help participants to connect with natural abilities, build confidence, and advance their skills through purposeful dialogue, actionable tactics, and practical tools.

Supporting the Development of Your Leaders and Managers in 2021

Participants tell us that when they complete a training program with Laridae, they can see their potential more clearly, and are filled with a renewed sense of confidence and capacity to lead and manage effectively.

We encourage you to stay curious about the potential of you and your team, and explore professional development that is engaging and collaborative – even virtually! Discover how training designed for non-profits like yours can help you and your team reach its goals in 2021.


What are the best next steps?

Contact us to learn more about your options

If you’re interested in learning more about our training programs, we can setup an initial discovery call to see if our training could help you with your goals for 2021. During the call, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Ask any question you have about our training
  • Learn more about our program’s modules and engagement formats
  • Discuss pricing options
  • Evaluate logistics, timing, and participant numbers

Click here to book a 15-minute chat with Ugette, our Training Lead. Or send us a message and we will respond to set up a time.

Register for one of our 2021 Cohorts

Or, if you’re ready, you can enroll right now! We’re starting a new cohort in programs in January, 2021! You can learn more and register here: