Nursing Leadership 8: Leadership versus Management

Nursing Leadership 8: Leadership versus Management

Leaders and managers are often confused to be synonyms. However, this should not be the case given that the two have distinct features that can identify them. A typical example of a difference between leaders and managers is that managers have a legitimate source of power due to the delegated authority while leaders often have no delegated authority (Murray, 2017). In essence, this discussion aims at differentiating the two aspects.

Primarily, the roles of leaders and managers in supporting organizations to set and achieve goals differ. For instance, leaders are more active in helping the organization to achieve its goals by inspiring his/her followers to attain the goals. On the contrary, a manager meets organizational goals by asserting obedience from the subordinates, both willing and unwilling (Marquis, & Huston, 2015). Moreover, leaders are more active in communicating the expectations of the set goals to their followers while managers are at the center of coming up with goals and standards that they expect subordinates to attain (Kelly, & Tazbir, 2014). Evidently, these are clear illustrations of how managers differ from leaders.

Finally, in real life, I have come across leaders and managers who at first sight I was able to distinguish and not confuse for the other. A case in point of an individual that I noticed to be a leader is a nurse that had great following despite not having a position within the medical-surgical unit. Her expertise in the area of medical-surgical nursing attracted an audience among the other nurses. Such a depiction befits the description of a leader given that he/she does not rely on delegated authority to attain his/her leadership status but on the inspiration of others (Weiss, & Tappen, 2015). On the other hand, an individual that depicted features of manager and not a leader is one that I witnessed imploring the colleagues to work towards the organizational goals without hesitance. That is the case given that managers’ driving force is the results and emphasizes on taking control (Rigolosi, 2013).

In closure, from this analysis, it is apparent that there are clear-cut boundaries to distinguish leaders from managers. The implication drawn from this analysis is that going forward nurses need to establish the differences in proper implementation of the expected roles.


Kelly, P., & Tazbir, J. (2014). Essentials of nursing leadership & management. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning.

Murray, E. J. (2017). Nursing leadership and management for patient safety and quality care.

Marquis, B. L., & Huston, C. J. (2015). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: Theory and application (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins

Rigolosi, E. L. M. (2013). Management and leadership in nursing and health care: An experiential approach. New York: Springer.

Weiss, S. A., & Tappen, R. M. (2015). Essentials of nursing leadership and management