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Leaders vs. managers: What are the key differences?

9 months ago by Daniel Stargatt
Leaders vs. managers - What are the key differences

In this article we take a look at the difference between a manager and a leader. Although they are essentially different ways of saying “I manage people”, the style in which someone approaches a management position definitely means very different things when it comes to a leader or manager.

Just because you have been promoted or moved into a people management position doesn’t mean you will instantly be thought of as a leader, you have to work at it. Not every leader will be perfect at the three points below, but they are definitely the key traits most great leaders possess…

Visions vs. Goals

A leader will create a vision of what they see is possible for a project, business or team. They bring people together and inspire and empower them to work collaboratively to allow them to create what their leader envisions and bring it to reality. The key to success is to ensure everyone is on the same page, motivated to achieve and comfortable to express themselves in the workplace. To be a leader you lead from the front, not manage from the sidelines.

A manager would focus more on setting goals and KPIs to allow them to control the project and their team. Control is key for a manager, which can reduce the amount of freedom their team has during projects.

Change vs. staying the same

Leaders embrace change. A good leader will always be looking at how things can be done more efficiently and effectively. They know that there will be people within the business that aren’t as open to change as them, but this won’t hold them back. Leaders innovate.

Managers will more often stick with what they have. They may make minor adjustments to help increase efficiency, which is positive but wouldn’t take themselves out of their comfort zone and make big changes.

Coaching vs. Managing

A leader will coach people, help develop skills and allow people to express themselves. This will help to build experience and confidence and the ability to work autonomously. A good leader will show people how to do it rather than tell people how to do it.

A manager will tend to manage their team by assigning tasks and offering guidance rather than getting their hands dirty and showing their team the way.

The intention of this article was to purely show the subtle differences between what a leader does and what a manger does. Hopefully it’s given you some food for thought if you were looking at how to develop your management style into a more leadership style.

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