10 Biggest Differences Between A Manager And A Leader

Originally published at lmt-lss.com on October 13, 2015.

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When considering the difference between a manager and a leader, it is important to note that they’re are not mutually exclusive. To build a successful organization, there needs to be a variety of people playing different roles in order for things to run smoothly. Both leadership and management involve influence, working with people, concern about effective goal accomplishment, and other shared characteristics. There are times when a leader has to don the hat of a manager and vice versa. But a great leader may not be an effective manager and someone who manages well might not have the ability to come up with a vision and inspire people. Richard Daft, an American organizational theorist, wrote in his book, The Leadership Experience, that ‘leadership cannot replace management but rather is something that is to be practiced in addition to management’.

Here are some key differences between a manager and a leader.

1. The manager administers; the leader innovates.

A leader is someone who comes up with the new ideas. He challenges existing notions and looks at things differently. A manger is responsible to administrate the idea into tangible results.


2. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.

No offence to managers but a manager uses time tested principles to manage his teams effectively. His function is very specific and targeted. A leader is always trying to experiment and has his own unique approach.


3. The manager maintains; the leader develops.

The manager is responsible for the smooth functioning of the organization and this means maintaining optimum output from his teams. A leader on the other hand takes charge of developing better people and processes.


4. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.

A leader knows that the only way he can succeed is by helping people around him succeed. He focuses on enabling and empowering people. On the contrary, a manager’s strength lies in putting into place systems and structures that deliver on the goals set by the organization.


5. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.

Managers exercise control over their teams and expectations from each team member are clear. A team member need not trust or be inspired by his manager. He just needs to do what’s expected of him. Leaders don’t rely on control but try to inspire people with their vision. They communicate the direction that they want to take and ask for support.


6. The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.

This is another area where leaders and managers differ. Leaders are always thinking of the future and their vision rests on the version of the future that they imagine. Managers are responsible for sustained performance of the company and hence are more concerned with the here and now.


7. The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.

Leaders challenge the status quo, questioning it from time to time in order to drive innovation. In any given situation, they try to look beyond the obvious. Managers don’t chart new paths but look at leaders to show them the path. Once the goals are set, they jump in ensure that they are met.


8. The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.

The job of a manager hinges on delivering the bottom line. He knows that a grand vision is of no consequence if his teams don’t perform and deliver profits. Leaders take on the responsibility of envisioning a future for the company and giving people a sense of direction. They know that people who are inspired to work will always perform better.


9. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.

An army of leaders can conquer no country. Managers are an essential part of the organization and bring structure and discipline to the work flow. They thrive on being given targets and then achieving them. Leaders function on a very different level and pride themselves on being non-conformists.


10. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

A manager likes to go by the book. Whether it is right or wrong, to get things done the way they are supposed to be done is a big part of his job. A leader uses sound judgement and knowledge to bring about positive change. He is only concerned about doing the right thing regardless of what the current situation is.


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Originally published at www.lmt-lss.com.
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