The Difference Between a Manager and a Leader

Managers and leaders are necessary to each organization running smoothly. The efforts of both can be appreciated and utilized for the good of everyone in their path. Each will play a significant role within the company and each will be distinct in their styles. Typically one is involved in one area of authority while the other tackles other aspects. While both are necessary for proper execution of plans and decisions, here are some of the generalized differences between them:

  • A leader is involved in “big picture” efforts and the manager is tasked with carrying them out. They both will be instrumental in making the efforts a success but ultimately, one usually has the vision and the other will have the skill set to make it happen.
  • A manager will tell people what to do while a leader will inspire others to action. Think back to a great leader in history who gave speeches and calls to action and the role they have in change and progress. However, they relied on their managers or those within the organization to carry out their goals.
  • A leader will motivate and critique in a way that is constructive but often rely on the managers to do the hiring and firing of personnel. The leader feels that if they can rally everyone to do the work, there will be success but a manager also understands there may be necessary physical changes that need to be made. They will be responsible for those and the leader can continue to focus on the big picture issues.
  • A leader works hard to understand those around them while a manager expects the work to get done and assigns tasks to meet the intended goals. The manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of the team members but also isn’t overly concerned with pleasing people and focuses on the intended results.
  • A manager will need to assess what went wrong and what went right after a goal is completed. From small projects to large ones, the manager is responsible for the end results. A leader will usually just continue on the upward path so that more goals can be set and then reached.

You can sometimes find great leaders in a manager but most leaders do not make the best managers. Leaders focus on the big picture rather than how to make things happen and are usually classified as visionaries. Both leaders and managers are essential for the job getting done and each will play an important role in the progress of an organization or even a cause. There are times when the roles will be filled by two separate people, and it is then the organization will most likely experience a greater deal of success and when possible, this is how the structure should be designed. Otherwise, try to find a great manager who also has leadership qualities and watch your teams respond in a positive way. For more tips, read our related posts or contact our experienced recruiting team today!

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