What’s the difference between leadership and management – and why should you care?

The difference between leadership and management is significant and can make the difference between a business barely surviving – or truly thriving.

What’s the difference between leadership and management – and why should you care?

Imagine if you’ve only ever experienced and driven brand new flashy sports cars with leather seats. That’s what your parents had, and you’ve continued the tradition. It would be a bit of a shock to suddenly catch a ride with a mate who’s got a beaten up old ute, as it’s so different to what you’re used to.

It’s easy to get used to the best of the best

That was certainly Jason Dinan’s experience, founder of Executive Coaching and Consulting. He spent over two decades overseas working with the best global leaders, in high-performing corporations. Working shoulder to shoulder with the senior leaders at Amazon, BP, 3M, FedEx, Coca Cola, and many more.

It’s a bit of a shock being back in New Zealand: “In the 19 years I’ve been back, I’ve only met a few good leaders in that time,” he says. “Though I haven’t met Rob Fyfe, and he seems pretty decent.”

So what’s the problem with leadership in New Zealand?

“Kiwis think that because they’re employing half a dozen people and are turning over a couple of million dollars, they’re a leader,” says Jason. “But that’s not the case at all. All your staff could hate you, but you’re paying just enough for them to hang around. You don’t really have a direction for the business, and you’re communicating the bare minimum in your business to keep it operational.”

“Poor leadership has become a cycle in New Zealand: hardly anyone’s worked with an excellent leader, they’ve only had bad examples that they end up copying, but thought that was the way to do it. And this cycle repeats over and over.”

“Sure, the new manager might be a better version than the previous manager – you certainly can’t get away with treating people like you used to be able to – but they’re executing management strategies, and not planning any leadership strategies.”

What does good leadership look like then?

Says Jason: “A good leader’s really curious about the people in their business, and does what they can to grow them, and engage with them to develop a vision of the future together. And at the same time, developing the people under them, so if anyone ends up leaving, there’s someone ready to take over. But that kind of planning is just a foreign concept in New Zealand.”

Jason explains what the difference between leadership and management: “A leader is focused on the future, while managers concentrate on the present challenges. Leaders think ahead strategically, and they’re great at communicating with their team in a way that motivates and inspires them. This creates a real sense of
purpose in the team.”

“The really great thing about leadership is that it can be taught. Sure, you get some natural leaders, but there’s nothing stopping anyone from being a great leader with a bit of training and direction.”

Why is leadership important?

“People are the number one key asset in a business – and if your people are motivated and excited to work for you for the next five years, you’ve got a huge advantage over everyone else,” says Jason.

“Plus everyone will enjoy their work more – including you! And the more you care about being a good leader, and your people, the more benefits will happen for you, your family, and your business.”


Breaking the cycle of poor leadership can make the difference between a business surviving, and a business thriving. Remember, good leadership is a skill that can be earned. And if you master it, you’ll probably even be able to upgrade your old ute to that flashy car you’ve always dreamed of.

Need help? Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you with leadership training.

By Jason Dinan, Executive Coaching and Consulting

With 29 years of leadership experience working in 23 countries, Jason specialises in growing organisations through developing high- erformance leaders, teams and strategy. He was the project head for a leading homebuilder in New Zealand, Australia and North America, helping grow annual sales from 47% to 311%.

In the construction industry, EXCC has worked with Placemakers, ITM, NZ Bricks, Generation Homes, CS Doors, Sequel Lumbar, and Kohler. And within the NZCB network, Jason has worked with Dash Build, Wiki Scaffolding, Wiki Earthworks, Wiki Electrical, Tomik, and Falcon Construction.