The Differences Between Leadership & Supervising

by Mitchell Brock ; Updated September 26, 2017
Leaders usually lead by example, and proact when they see a problem that needs to be addressed.

The difference between leadership and supervising is found in the person in charge. Leaders are commonly gifted individuals while supervisors can be taught a management style. The major differences in leadership and supervision is found in the quality or character of a person. An individual can be both a leader and supervisor, but a person can supervise without being a leader. The opposite is also true.


Supervising is the act of directing, monitoring or overseeing a task or project to ensure it is done properly. Leadership is defined in many different ways, but leaders always have influence. The ability to influence others is a common leadership quality. Supervising does not require the ability to influence, only the ability to delegate.


Leadership in planning directs the goals and methods used to complete a task. Supervising delegates the task and monitors the progress of the individuals completing the tasks. The difference between the two is found in the authority each have over people, personnel or employees. Where the leader identifies and determines the planning, the supervisor oversees the completion and implementation of the plan.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by Techwalla
Brought to you by Techwalla


Leadership directs or determines the vision of a project or company and spearheads the direction. Supervision is the management of the resources and people in accordance with the established vision. The leader sets the vision without considering how the vision is completed, while the supervisor considers how the vision is completed, much as a referee in a sports game where the vision, or rules, have already been established. The referee ensures the laws are followed by the players of the game.


Gandhi is a good example of leadership because of his willingness to call for a stoppage of protests. The influence of Gandhi over the people of India was leadership. The Indians who assisted Gandhi in implementing the stoppage of protests illustrate supervision. Another example is how the monarchy of the United Kingdom is seen as a leader, but in reality has little influence over the direction of the country. Leadership sets a new direction and supervising directs or controls the established direction.

About the Author

Mitchell Brock has been writing since 1980. His work includes media relations and copywriting technical manuals for Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, FOX and Phillip Morris. Brock graduated from the University of Southern California in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article