Leadership vs. Management for IT Service Providers

  • MSP+OS Team
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    MSP+OS Team

  • October 31, 2023
  • 5 minute read

A manager can be any member of your team, but not all managers can be leaders. One of the most important aspects of any business is leadership. 

Leadership can be defined as a person who has control and influence over other people, groups, or organizations. On the other hand, management is an organizational process that enables employees to perform work efficiently towards achieving desired goals and objectives. This blog post will discuss what distinguishes leaders from managers and how IT service providers can maximize their effectiveness by focusing on one or the other. We will also look at some personal characteristics that are essential for effective leadership and management. 

The Main Difference between Leadership and Management

The Main Difference between Leadership and Management

Leaders and managers are critical for an organization to be successful, but they have different goals that set them apart.

Leadership is a critical part of any organization as it enables the business to achieve its goals. Leadership can be defined as having control or influence over other people, groups, or organizations, whereas management is a system wherein individuals organize resources to accomplish a task. In this way, leaders set the tone and direction of an organization, whereas managers organize people to do work efficiently.

In most cases, management is seen as more concerned with efficiency. At the same time, leadership is often viewed as a philosophy requiring employees to be innovative and creative in achieving results.



Leadership vs. Management for IT Service Providers

It is important to have both leadership and management skills in the IT service industry because strong leaders can make decisions quickly, think outside the box, inspire others with their vision of success, and motivate them to do better than they thought possible.

On the other hand, due to the technical nature of the IT service industry, managers also play an important role as they are the people who make things happen. They can organize people, processes, and resources in an efficient manner that allows them to operate the company in a more streamlined manner.

Leaders in this industry must also possess excellent communication skills as well as an understanding of both technology and business concepts and skills which means that IT professionals should strive to gain more knowledge by attending training courses or seminars on these topics.

On top of this, effective managers have a high level of computer literacy, so they can understand what different technologies mean for their company's bottom line while managing budgets wisely.

When combined, strong leadership and management skills enable IT service providers to have a strong business culture that enables them to deal with changing conditions, maintain high productivity levels, and serve customers well while keeping costs low.


Leadership Skills

Leadership Skills

As IT service providers (they/them), we need to bring out the best in our teams so they can contribute their own efforts towards achieving common goals. But first, let's try to understand what personal qualities make someone a good candidate for the role of leadership. Leadership skills are very important for IT service providers who want to motivate their team members.

As author Daniel Goleman once wrote, emotionally intelligent leaders exhibit five characteristics:

  • Emotional self-control and discipline
  • Social competence: empathy, sensitivity to others' emotions, and the ability to inspire and influence people.
  • Adaptability: flexibility in adapting to changing demands and stress levels.
  • Motivation: confidence that they can achieve goals, persistence when faced with obstacles, strong drive to achieve results.
  • Self-awareness: understanding own strengths and weaknesses as well as one's internal motivations. (Daniel Goleman)


Leadership is about motivating people towards achieving a common goal; management is about controlling resources efficiently. However, there are two ways of looking at things: "It's either my way or the highway." Or you could say that you'll take into account other opinions before coming up with a solution. A successful leader leads everyone towards their goal. A leader is not merely an authority figure within the team; a true leader sets the tone for the rest of the team to follow.

Moreover, a good leader is also skilled in problem-solving, even though it might not positively serve the status quo. Leaders create a conducive work atmosphere that greatly benefits the team members. This is especially important, knowing that the IT industry is known as one of today's most dynamic and ever-changing industries.

A good leader also keeps their team informed of the latest developments, and they do not require separate leaders to manage a huge team effectively. It all boils down to a strategic vision and great management qualities to boot.

What do Sales and Marketing Teams Do?

How DO Team Members Benefit from Both a Leader and a Manager?

People who can build a team and empower individual members to make decisions should be natural leaders. The first step is recognizing the value of other people, then building trust by demonstrating that you care about those around you as much as yourself. This takes humility and an ability to listen - not just hear what's being said, but try to understand why it's being said as well.

Some experts suggest that two-way communication is critical for success in partnerships and business alike: "It has been said over and over again: we will truly listen ONLY when we are prepared to hear what we don't want." (from Leadership vs. Management: How Leaders Make Things Happen).

Additionally, developing a shared understanding and creates momentum and helps teams work more effectively together. Not all managers can be great in project management, but they could be great leaders.

What Does It Take To Become An It Leader?

What Does It Take To Become An It Leader?

While not all managers can be great leaders, that does not mean that you can't develop the skills to become a strong leader. Leadership and management go hand in hand, although it takes a different set of skills to become an effective leader than those needed for successful management.

Here are some traits that make up great IT service provider leaders:

1) They're courageous enough to listen. They understand that they need to be open-minded when it comes to taking input from their team. They make the time to listen and understand what team members are saying.

2) They're good problem solvers and possess people management skills. A great leader can strive to continually learn new things that will make them more marketable and gain the respect of their team members and peers alike. They allow free-thinking and creativity to flourish without getting too caught up in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day tasks.

3) They delegate and empower their team members.  A great leader knows that he or she does not have to do everything themselves, and they work with their team members in order for everyone's strengths and weaknesses to balance each other out. This takes trust on the part of both parties, but it greatly benefits all involved because by delegating tasks, you are enabling people to grow and develop.

4) They're good communicators. Leadership is not an inherent skill but instead something that can be learned and improved upon over time, with practice. Leaders must be able to demonstrate what they expect from their team members and truly work towards building a cohesive unit.

5) They work well under pressure and are highly adaptable. Leadership is not just about having a vision but also helping people learn and grow as individuals and as team members together. Leaders must make tough decisions when the need arises, even though they could potentially disappoint some of their team members in doing so. They should be firm and fair when establishing work rules and ensuring that company policies are followed and operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Put Your Marketing and Sales Teams Together for Greater Success

Leadership vs. Management: How Both Functions Can Make Things Happen!

Leadership vs. management is not about one being better than the other - it's about influencing people towards common goals, leading people to believe in themselves and their capabilities, and using these abilities to gain a competitive advantage against competitors and achieve business success.

In summary, leadership is about influencing people towards common goals while management focuses on running a project or business operationally. Nonetheless, both a strong leader and a good project manager are essential for ensuring that IT service providers can reach their goals and perform at peak levels. After all, it takes a great deal of both leadership and management skills to keep the important functions of the job going.

What is your take on leadership vs. management? Are you more of a leader or a manager?

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