American Society of Civil Engineers

Leadership versus Management: How They Are Different, and Why

by Shamas–ur–Rehman Toor, (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Building in the School of Design and Environment at National University of Singapore. E-mail: and George Ofori, (Professor and Head of the Department of Building, School of Design and Environment at National University of Singapore. E-mail:

Leadership and Management in Engineering, Vol. 8, No. 2, April 2008, pp. 61-71, (doi:

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Document type: Feature Article
Abstract: ”Leadership” is different from ”management”; many just know it intuitively but have not been able to understand this difference clearly. These are two entirely different functions based on their underlying philosophies, functions, and outcomes. Similarly, leaders and managers are not the same people. They apply different conceptualizations and approaches to work, exercise different ways of problem solving, undertake different functions in the organizations, and exhibit different behaviors owing to their different intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Although discretely different, the terms ”manager” and ”leader” are often confused and used interchangeably. This paper attempts to address this issue at various levels, including etymological, development, conceptual distinctions, definitional complexities, functional divergence, and behavioral differences. It is argued that in order to be competitive, future organizations need to develop as many leaders as possible, but that these leaders should also have sufficient management knowledge and capabilities. Organizations also need effective managers who possess adequate leadership skills for better problem solving and overall functioning in the teams.

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