6 Key Differences Between Managers and Leaders

Business Communication 4th November 2016 Ruchira Karnik

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Differences between managers and leaders are plenty because both play an important role in a company. In fact it is to highlight the fact that both have certain traits that make them the best in what they do. They complement each other and share a symbiotic relationship which warrants an organization’s success. It is also not to say that a leader can only lead and a manager only manage. There are people who can play dual roles, but there still are points of differences.

Leader has followers and manager has employees

Simply put: leaders generate a fan following wherever they go as compared to managers who exercise power over a team. If you want to know whether you’re a leader or a manager just take count of people outside your team who look up to you for advice. The more you work as an influencer, the farther you’re getting away from being called a manager.

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Leader leads and manager manages

A leader doesn’t manage people, instead they motivate and influence them to work towards achieving organizational goals. They give pep talks to gear them up for what’s coming whereas a manager ensures that the spark of inspiration continues to grow manifold and shows results in the work they do. It is the manager who then works to align employees in tandem with company goals.

Leader creates change whereas manager implements changes

When a leader leads he/she might be setting a course for people to follow. They forecast changes that will/may/should/would take place. It is for strong managers to take the driver’s seat and ensure necessary changes are implemented. They oversee every piece of the jigsaw puzzle is in place and that transformation is friction-free.

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Leader is accountable to the organization and manager to team

As a harbinger of change, a leader is responsible for the entire organization and a manager follows suit.  Since the latter has a team accountable to him, he too in turn becomes accountable to the team. A manager is one of the many managers who ensures the team is geared up to deliver.

Leader draws on vision and manager on specifics

A leader draws from his experience and envisions where the business should go. A managers then interprets this vision, works out the specifics, makes a strategy and does everything it takes to accomplish that vision. Basis concrete data analysis, a manager joins the dot to meet the vision.

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Leader sells an idea and manager acts upon it

Working on a vision or a saleable idea is a leader’s expertise. They do all that it takes to convince the stakeholders to agree with the idea which may appear abstract. But, because of the industry experience they work in agreement with managers who then teaches the team on how to achieve this vision through past learning.

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As you may have understood by now, some people often confuse the two but there are differences between their style of working. Despite that both are indispensable for an organization. The kind of aptitude, attitude and skill sets that both bring with them can be a determining factor of any organization’s success. To be able to tell the differences between managers and leaders therefore remains crucial for the management. Assigning them a role that best fits their expertise means the company’s future is in safe hands.


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