LEADERSHIP / FEB. 23, 2015
version 4, draft 4

How to Understand the Difference between Management and Leadership


Few people truly understand the difference between a manager and a leader, but it’s a VERY important distinction! Managers are effective at telling people what to do, but a leader is the kind of person that inspires a work ethic in others. If you want to get the most done, it’s vital to be a leader, but managers deserve a place of their own!

Here are a few differences between managers and leaders:

Managers direct, leaders lead

A manager will tell you what needs to be done and how to do it, but a leader will show you by their example. Managers will give you a list of tasks, instructions on how they want them done, and a deadline for the completion. Leaders will walk you through the process, check up on you, encourage you, and help you cross the finish line.

Managers have subordinates, leaders have followers

A manager knows who is working for him/her at all times, and they will be very aware of which people fall under their supervision. He thinks of these people as those working "for" him, but leaders are aware of those who are working "with" him. Leaders with subordinates will treat them more as partners and co-workers than underlings, leading them to follow his instructions without a need for him to assert his authority.

Managers focus on work, leaders focus on people

Leaders and managers can both get a lot done, but it is leaders who have the happiest team once crunch time has passed. A manager is the kind of person who will recommend that you work over the weekend to reach the deadline, but a leader will be right there with you if you are spending your weekend on a project.

Managers command, leaders inspire

Many managers give you a task and simply expect you to do it, no questions asked. They have the authority, so in their minds you have no right to question it. Leaders will still give you the task, but in a way that you will be motivated to do it. They show you how it will benefit you and the company in the long run!

Managers look for safety and comfort, leaders seek smart risks

Risk is a part of succeeding in any business. If you don’t take risks, you’ll never get anywhere. A leader knows how to find the right risks, and how to take them the smart, safe way. Managers will often stick within their comfort zone, preferring safety over the chance of failure. But that chance of failure is accompanied by the chance of high rewards!

Managers take credit, leaders take responsibility

If something goes right and the project is a success, the manager will usually take credit for the success. He may share it with his team, but ultimately he gets the pat on the back. A leader, however, is more than willing to take responsibility for the project--succeed or fail. He’ll share credit with his team, taking the focus off his achievements and directing them toward the individuals working with him.

What’s your style? Are you a manager or a leader? Both have their place in the business world, but leaders will ultimately get a lot more accomplished than managers! Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.

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