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Understanding the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

Understanding the Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

Many people use “leader” and “manager” synonymously, but they mean two very different things. Leaders, as opposed to managers, are insightful and inspiring rather than directing and controlling. But have you ever wondered what the differences are between them?

In this article, we will discuss the five key differences between managers and leaders so that you can better understand their roles.

Who is a leader?

A leader is someone who seeks opportunities for improvement and motivates others to work together towards a common goal. They are not necessarily in a position of authority, but they work to realise their vision while putting people first.

Below are the characteristics of a leader:

  • Inspire and motivate others
  • Have a long-term vision and see the big picture
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Adaptable and open-minded
  • Have a positive attitude and enthusiasm

Who is a manager?

Managers have five primary roles in an organisation: planning, organising, directing, staffing, and controlling. They focus on achieving results by setting guidelines, retaining control, and responding to unpredictable situations.

Below are the characteristics of a manager:

  • Disciplined about their tasks and responsibilities
  • Dedicated to achieving their objectives
  • Make quick decisions in challenging situations
  • Focus on each team member’s strengths

The top 5 differences between a leader and a manager

  1. Originality vs. Commonality

A leader is someone who does not mind standing out from the crowd. They are self-assured in their approaches and willing to take risks. They seek ideas to improve their personal brands and are trendsetters others look to for inspiration.

A manager adheres to the established rules and does not deviate from the established pattern. They ensure that they meet the standard for their tasks and strive to improve on existing procedures and productivity.

  1. The Outcome vs. The Visionary

Leaders are visionaries who focus on the big picture of the company rather than short-term goals. They connect with and inspire their followers to create something extraordinary,  resulting in definite and concrete outcomes.

Managers, on the other hand, are usually concerned with outcomes, both measuring and achieving them. They even delve deeper into the process, limiting creative freedom.

  1. Change vs. Status Quo

One of the characteristics of a leader is their ability to adapt to change. They seek constant innovation and more room to optimise even if things are going great within the organisation.

The manager adheres to tried-and-true methods, keeps the status quo, and works to boost productivity. They are not known for taking risks and instead focus on improving existing systems.

  1. The Mentor vs. the Dictator

Leaders are good mentors. They promote transparent, positive and warm relationships with all their team members. People who work for leaders are often more efficient and productive in their daily operations.

Successful leaders regard their team members as capable and place a high value on their potential. Their leadership style is the polar opposite of micromanagement. They believe that their team members can complete a project without their supervision.

Traditional managers, on the other hand, may be regarded as dictators. They are well-known for micromanaging their team members. However, micromanagement is not as bad as it sounds. It can assist team members, particularly new employees, in catching up to industry working standards and achieving results.

  1. Development vs. Achievement

Leaders prioritise personal development and growth. They seek information and ideas from people and take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow.

Managers usually work to improve their existing skills and knowledge. They are known to take the well-worn path to success.

In simpler words, leaders actively drive change, whereas managers respond to it. Managers are responsible for making the leader’s vision a reality.

Advance your career with leadership training programs

Organisations need both leaders and managers to be successful. Therefore, understanding the differences between managers and leaders and what qualities both possess is essential for you to strive in an organisation. You must also understand which leadership style (managerial or transformational) you employ in a specific circumstance.

You can learn all these aspects of leadership by enrolling in advanced leadership training programs. These online certificate courses for professionals and freshers will offer real-world experience and teach you more about leadership and the skills you need to succeed in your organisation.

What do you think?

Written by Joshua White

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