Managing a team’s output to facilitate organisational success is one thing – setting the tone with sound leadership is another. As autocratic management loses its pull in the modern workplace, we dive into how managers can empower people to excel in their roles.

Traditionally, managers have been taught to control, plan and dictate outcomes to ensure their subordinates are fulfilling their roles.

Many of us would assume that management and leadership go hand-in-hand but that isn’t the case – instead they are approaches that require two separate personas.

Everything managers do to control their team’s output revolves around the idea that employees are robotic, emotionless workers that crave being told what to do, and when to do it.

For years the hierarchical, straight line structure has been engrained into the psyche of managers, but in the modern workplace this is beginning to shift.

Leadership (or modern management) has very little to do with finger-pointing and more to do with empowering team members to find great inspiration in their daily duties.

The focus on creating a positive, results-driven culture within an organisation sets apart managers who lead by example, rather than those who merely function in their role to administer.


Managers often forget that their employees are human and are critical of their own work, even if they don’t explicitly show it. This is where leadership distinguishes itself from management.

By focusing on how to bring the best out of a team, true leaders spend their time and energy on building trust with people through a style of management that doesn’t exude a top-down mentality. For leaders, being inclusive is paramount.

Melbourne Innovation Centre CEO David Williamson believes that leadership is about creating and driving the vision for organisational outcomes.

In his experience as the leader of an internationally acclaimed incubation program, he says that good managers lead by example and are strategically focused on reaching widespread organisational success. For Williamson, leaders don’t own successful outcomes – they highlight how their team made it happen.

“A leader is more of the intangible and key cultural driver within an organisation. A good leader is also more strategically focused on creating and driving the vision, and providing the environment and context to achieve the desired outcomes.

“I think one of the key differentiators of a good leader is someone who is able to make sound decisions and judgment calls on demand, and build confidence in their organisation to deliver the outcomes of those decisions. I believe there are certain events which truly test leadership capability.”

Traditional management techniques tend to suggest that team members are nothing more than links in a chain, and are replaceable at any time.


Employee motivation is central to driving any form of organisational success – to downplay and pigeon-hole talent, managers find themselves devaluing creativity, individuality and critical thinking, which ultimately influences the bottom line.

Identifying a long term mission – other than merely setting key performance indicators to appease senior executives – allows leaders to get buy in early on, and push their team to go above and beyond their remit.
The rise of the knowledge economy has called on managers to take measures that bring out the individual strengths of employees to not only drive results, but to develop talent and inspire forward thinking.

Placing high value on the knowledge worker allows leaders to take a step back from micro-managing outcomes to take a ‘what and why’ delegation, instead of a ‘how and when’ approach.

According to Williamson, the main leadership pillars should be stripped down to display honesty, integrity, visibility and communication.

“The obvious, and most important leadership characteristics are honesty, integrity and good communication skills. But quite often the idea of managerial visibility gets a bit lost, too, so I think it’s important to be present at all times.”

He spoke further about how leaders can really differentiate themselves from traditional managers by simply being the foundation that supports an organisation and its people.

“A good leader doesn’t need to take credit for the success of every facet of an organisation – an experienced leader will ensure that other team members are highlighted for achievements and progress. For me, a good leader identifies that in time of need, where important and often difficult decisions need to be made, that they own those decisions and are present to stand by and accept responsibility for the outcomes – good or bad.”


Management consultant and power thinker Peter Drucker was a thought leader way ahead of his time. His theories on business management favoured the leadership approach before anyone ever saw value in doing the right things, rather than doing things right – which is how Drucker neatly distinguished leadership from management.

Many scoffed at his philosophical views of successful management, but now in the midst of the knowledge economy they couldn’t be more relevant (and accurate).

He saw leadership as a management style that ultimately lead to high performance and effectiveness – for both senior managers, middle managers and their sub-ordinates.

Professor of Entrepreneurship at LaTrobe University Dr Alex Maritz simply determines the difference between managers and leaders: “Managers survive, leaders innovate.”

Dr Maritz believes that in a world full of complexity and challenges, leaders have to take initiative to disrupt traditional business models and invent new management approaches. There are a number of things managers can do to grow into leaders according to Dr Maritz – all of which aren’t solely reliant on decades of experience.

“Becoming a leader is not simply a matter of time and experience, but a mindset. Managers are usually good at managing resources, whereas leaders need to be able to manage and exploit opportunities.

“In our rapidly changing global scenario, rampant change, faster flow of communication, increasing business complexity, technology innovation and pervasive globalisation, managers have to learn the skills to be more entrepreneurial and innovative.”

After over a decade of executive directorship experience for Sony Playstation as their COO and as the managing director of Blockbusters Entertainment, Dr Maritz has learned a thing or two about inspiring positive organisational outcomes.

He says that in order to switch from management to leadership people need these three characteristics: talent, temperament and technique. With the three Ts in check, Dr Maritz explains that positive business outcomes are endless.

“Sound leadership is vital to organisational success. Leadership is not about maintaining the status quo, but rather initiating target market leadership. Some examples include creating higher customer value, building distinctive capabilities, enhancing radical technology innovation, and creating new adaptable business models.”

Leaders sell their vision for the company, they set direction and they encourage their team to have eyes for the horizon. Ultimately, they personify modern day management.

Do you want to learn more about how we can make a difference to your business? Get in touch with RdL today.