The Difference Between Leaders and Managers

In many businesses and organizations there are two distinct types of people who are in charge of running companies – leaders and managers.  Quite often these two terms are used interchangeably, however, they could not be further apart from each other.  Many times those that aspire to managerial positions or status, do so for the perceived power that they have over other people.  While certainly there are times when it is beneficial to have a manager over a leader – most businesses benefit much greater having someone to lead them, someone they can follow and have confidence in.

Note that this post isn’t intended to take a low shot at those whose position might formally be called a “manager.”  Rather, this post is to highlight how you might become a better leader in your workplace.  Whether you have the formal title of “manager” or not, becoming a leader takes patience, trust, and a multitude of other traits that you must develop over time.

The REAL Difference Between Managers & Leaders

A manager is a title that can be given that signifies a position – a leader is a title that other people give you.

The Differences Between Leadership & Management

Managers Demand Respect – Leaders Command Respect

When you are with a group of people it will immediately become apparent those who are managers and those who are leaders.  When managers ask or tell people to do something the people do it because of the structure that has been set in place.  Leaders will tell or ask people to do something and they do it out of respect.  Many times you will find that leaders will have people doing things that they never asked them to do and going above and beyond what is asked.

Managers Have Subordinates – Leaders Have Followers

When it comes to accomplishing a task, a manager tells those under them what to do – whether they like it or not.  Leaders have people that are willing and happy to do something (even if they don’t like the task) because of the respect that they have for the leader.

Managers tend to have a different mindset as well thinking that those beneath them are actually inferior.  Leaders, on the other hand, tend to rise to the top and are viewed by others as the person in charge – whether they have an official title or not.

Leaders create an aura of “we’re all in this together” while managers have a “you need to do this” mentality.

What are the differences?

Gathered from a few different resources and articles, there are significant ways in which leaders and managers differ:

  • Managers administer - Leaders innovate
  • Managers demand - Leaders command
  • Managers maintain - Leaders develop
  • Managers focus on systems Leaders focus on people
  • Managers strive for control Leaders inspire trust
  • Managers have short-term viewLeaders have a long-term goal
  • Managers are focused on the bottom lineLeaders are focused on potential
  • Managers imitate - Leaders originate
  • Managers do things rightLeaders do the right thing
  • Managers state their position – Leaders earn their position

A Shift of Thinking

The terrible thing is that the vast majority of managers out there actually think that they are leaders, when in fact, they command little to no respect and they are a leader in their mind only.

True leaders will upset people sometimes, but they still have those that will stick by their side.  When a manager truly needs help outside of the scope of their duties, few (if any) will stand up to assist.

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