Difference Between Leadership and Ownership

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The main difference between Leadership and Ownership is that leadership primarily involves guiding, influencing, and motivating a group of people towards achieving common goals, while ownership refers to having legal rights and control over an asset or an organization. Leadership is about interpersonal relationships, vision, and influence. It’s more about inspiring action and managing change. Ownership, on the other hand, entails having a stake in the success or failure of the venture, often associated with financial investment and legal responsibilities. Thus, while leadership focuses on the human aspect of guiding a team or organization, ownership is tied to the legal and financial aspects of controlling resources or entities.

What is Leadership and What is Ownership?


Leadership is a dynamic process that involves influencing and guiding individuals or groups towards achieving shared objectives. It encompasses setting a vision, creating strategies, inspiring action, and fostering a positive culture. Leaders are often seen as role models and are responsible for motivating their teams, managing conflicts, and driving change. Leadership is not confined to a specific role or title; it can be exhibited at any level within an organization.


Ownership, in contrast, refers to having legal rights and control over property, assets, or an organization. It involves responsibility for the management and financial aspects, including decision-making power regarding the use or disposition of the assets. Ownership is often associated with investing capital, bearing risk, and reaping the rewards or bearing the losses of a venture. It can be individual or shared among a group and is legally defined and protected.

Key Differences Between Leadership and Ownership

  1. Focus: Leadership is about influencing people and guiding them towards a common goal, while ownership is about having legal control over resources or entities.
  2. Skills Required: Leadership requires interpersonal skills, such as communication and empathy, whereas ownership demands financial acumen and decision-making skills.
  3. Risk and Rewards: Owners bear the financial risks and rewards of the venture, while leaders might not necessarily have a financial stake in the organization.
  4. Responsibility: Leaders are responsible for motivating and managing teams, whereas owners are accountable for the overall well-being of the business.
  5. Authority: Leadership authority is often based on personal attributes and influence, while ownership authority is derived from legal rights.
  6. Impact: The impact of leadership is seen in team performance and organizational culture, while the impact of ownership is more on business success and financial outcomes.
  7. Accountability: Leaders are accountable to their teams and superiors, while owners are accountable to stakeholders and regulatory bodies.
  8. Nature of Role: Leadership is a role often based on personal traits and skills, while ownership is a status acquired through legal or financial means.

Key Similarities Between Leadership and Ownership

  1. Goal Orientation: Both leaders and owners are focused on achieving objectives, whether they are organizational goals or business milestones.
  2. Decision-Making: Leaders and owners both engage in decision-making processes, though the context and scope may differ.
  3. Influence on Outcomes: Both have a significant influence on the outcomes of their ventures or teams.
  4. Responsibility for Success: Both leaders and owners share the responsibility for the success or failure of their endeavors.
  5. Visionary Aspects: Both roles often require a vision for the future and the ability to plan strategically.
  6. Motivational Role: Leaders and owners need to motivate others, be it employees or co-investors, towards a common goal.
  7. Adaptability: Both leaders and owners must be adaptable to changes in the market or organizational environment.

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*Based on a survey of small businesses using QuickBook Online conducted September 2018.