Published Online:https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2018.0227

Popular writers have long advanced distinctions between leadership and management, with different authors highlighting either their love for leaders or for managers. Through three studies, we explore the discriminant validity, comparative value, and conditional relevance of leadership and management in decision-making contexts with theoretical and organizational implications. In study 1, we find both similarities and significant distinctions between the prototype of “leaders” who inspire, motivate, and guide, and managers who budget, hire, and supervise. In study 2, we confirm that leader activities are typically evaluated more positively than managerial activities, even in situations that are specifically designed to favor managerial skills. Finally, in study 3, we find that the seemingly unconditional love for leaders is tempered by slowing respondents down, thus overriding a relatively fast and automatic preference for leaders relative to managers. Collectively, our studies add empirical evidence to help nuance and ground long-standing academic debates and popular press claims about a topic with significant practical implications.

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