7 Difference between leader and manager

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When you are promoted to a position where you must direct people, you do not automatically become a leader. There are important differences between directing and leading people.

We present seven critical features between leader and manager:

  • Leaders create a vision, managers create goals. Leaders ‘paint a picture’ of what they believe is possible and inspire and commit their people to make that vision a reality. They think beyond the rest and ‘activate’ people to be part of something bigger. They know that high-performance teams can achieve much more when they work together than individuals would do working autonomously. Managers focus on establishing, measuring and achieving goals. They control situations to reach or exceed their goals.
  • Leaders are agents of change; managers maintain the status quo. Leaders are proud ‘disrupters’ (someone who alters things). Innovation is your mantra. They accept the change and know that even if things are working, there could be a better way forward. They also understand and accept the fact that changes in the system often create ‘curves.’ Managers stay with what works, fine-tuning systems, structures, and processes to improve them.
  • Leaders are unique, managers copy. Leaders are willing to be themselves. They are aware of their qualities and shortcomings and actively work to build their unique and differentiated personal brand. They are comfortable ‘wearing their own shoes’ and are willing to stand out. They are authentic and transparent. Managers imitate the competencies and behaviors they learn from others and adapt their leadership styles.
  • Leaders take risks. Managers control risk. Leaders are ready to try new things, even if they fail completely. They know that failure is often a step on the road to success. Managers work to minimize risk. They seek to avoid or control problems instead of accepting them.
  • Leaders support the long-term, managers think in the short term. Leaders do anything they say they are going to do and remain motivated towards a great goal, often very distant. They remain motivated without receiving rewards on a regular basis. Managers work based on short-term goals, seeking recognition or more regular praise.
  • Leaders grow personally, managers depend on existing and proven skills. Leaders know when they are not learning something new every day, they do not progress and they are falling behind. They remain curious and seek to remain relevant in an ever-changing field of work. They look for people and information that broaden their thinking. Managers often rely heavily on what made them successful, honing their existing skills and adopting proven behaviors.
  • Leaders forge relationships, managers build systems and processes. Leaders focus on people (on all the stakeholders they need to influence to realize their vision). They know who the key actors are and spend most of their time with them. They generate loyalty and confidence by consistently fulfilling their promise. Managers focus on the structures needed to establish and achieve goals. They focus on analytics and ensure that systems are in place to achieve the desired results. They work with individuals and their aims and objectives.

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