Difference Between Leadership & Management in Schools

Written by james g. pradke
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Difference Between Leadership & Management in Schools
Management tasks and leadership tasks are supportive of one another. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The difference between leadership and management in schools is mostly found within the different daily tasks of an educator. A strong educator embraces the tasks associated with being a manager, while sustaining himself as a leader for his students, fellow teachers and community. Both management tasks and leadership tasks are supportive of one another. However, because management tasks differ from leadership tasks, their respective responsibilities are inherent to the actions of the moment. If a teacher is working as a manager, he may be involved in grading papers, writing up academic evaluations or managing disciplinary actions. If he is fulfilling his role as a leader, he may be participating in a school sponsored field trip or motivating the class to complete a difficult project.


School administrative responsibilities are management driven. Classroom management is thought of as the process of maintaining the day-to-day functions of the class. These include, but are not limited to, such administrative tasks as talking to parents about student progress, working with school administrators on budget requirements and filing end-of-year reports. While a good leader completes these tasks as a part of her responsibilities, a strong manager is not necessarily a leader.


Classroom discipline falls within a grey area between the differences of school leadership and management. A leader decides what an appropriate discipline should be as the result of an infraction, while a manager processes the paperwork and administers the discipline. Leadership requires that students be shaped and moulded through discipline while management ensures that discipline is enforced and appropriately documented.


Leaders are motivational. The skill of being able to motivate is a characteristic of leadership but is not a requirement for strong management. Some managers benefit from having leadership skills, which makes them eligible for upper level positions or even school administration. The stronger school administrators motivate teachers, parents and students, and are representatives of the community. Through their actions they motivate others to support their school's overall purpose of education.


Leaders are driven by their actions and the actions of others. In a school setting, this might include support at school sporting or cultural events. School leaders are teachers, coaches, directors and sponsors, and are considered reliable. School managers are secretaries, some administrators, athletic directors and janitorial staff. While both are absolutely necessary to the daily operation of a school, they serve in very differing capacities.

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