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Leaders vs Managers

Published September 5, 2022 (last updated on April 26, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


The terms leadership and management are often used interchangeably. In traditional companies or hierarchical structures, there is a perception that leaders and managers perform the same role. This perception is understandable since they do share similarities. However, there are significant differences between the two terms and roles.

Leadership & Leaders

Leadership is the creation of positive, non-incremental change through planning, vision, and strategy. It evidently establishes a framework for people to follow. In the office or the company, being a leader or leadership is generally associated with one’s title or position. But leadership in its crux has nothing to do with titles or roles.

A leader is someone who always takes the initiative and invests efforts, without expecting credit or accolades. Most leaders have social or personal influence, which energizes others to support them or follow their lead. Leaders by and large focus their energies on people and ideas.

Management & Managers

Management or rather good management brings a degree of order and consistency to key dimensions of a business. The management is particularly responsible for controlling and handling a group, a set of individuals, or an organisation.

Managers must accomplish regular tasks, oversee plans, and achieve goals on a recurring basis. A manager’s focus specifically remains on meeting targets and goals. Subordinates or colleagues follow and listen to them because of their job title and the authority it confers. Managers usually focus their energies on systems and processes.

Managers can become leaders if they achieve their targets and handle their responsibilities seamlessly. But not all managers have the capability to become leaders.

For a workplace to succeed, it is important to have both leaders and managers. Good leaders help companies accomplish their vision. Good managers ensure that goals are being met in alignment with the vision.  

With companies trying hybrid working or having a remote workforce, it can be extremely hard to motivate employees and engage them. This is where effective leaders and managers step in.

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Differences between Leaders and Managers

Process v Vision

Managers must achieve organisational goals and targets. They can do so through processes such as planning, structuring, staffing, and budgeting. Managers constantly work with others, push others, and motivate them to achieve the chosen set of goals for the month, quarter, or year.

Leaders centre on a vision. They communicate their goals and ideas to the organisation. Managers then use these goals or ideas to share the targets or steps with employees. This is a vital step and a strong trait for managers to possess. A recent survey found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. This is a huge problem as it can impact employee engagement. Managers must consistently and clearly communicate with their employees. Employees need feedback to achieve clarity and purpose.

Ideas v Execution

Leaders are in the habit of asking ‘what and why.’ They come up with ideas, ways to improve or grow. The leadership mindset is innovative and cutting-edge. A manager will usually ask, ‘how and when.’ Since their goal is to achieve targets and goals, managers emphasise control, logic, and planning. They look for ways to achieve the goals faster.

One of the main responsibilities of a manager is to fulfil tasks based on the leader’s vision. This can only happen if managers know the reason behind the vision or the changes. The link between good leaders and good managers is efficient communication.

Future v Present

Leaders are focused on the future, while managers focus on the present. Leaders must think ahead, innovate, and explore potential opportunities. Managers have to utilise tools in the present to achieve the future the leaders desire. For example, managers may use software or processes to simplify difficult tasks. Managers are working hard to achieve the future and accomplish the vision of the leaders.

Define culture v Support culture

The leadership of a company shapes and defines culture. Leaders set the tone and the culture, values, and beliefs for others to follow and emulate. Managers endorse the culture and support the values and beliefs. Managers motivate employees to live up to that culture. Great leaders communicate the organisational culture company-wide and influence employee attitudes and behaviours. Managers consistently support this culture and drive employees to live by it.

Empower your Managers and Leaders with Employsure

With a shifting work environment, hybrid workforce, labour shortages, and other professional challenges, both leaders and managers are having a tough time in the workplace.

Managers are generally having difficulties keeping their employees engaged and managing underperforming employees. They also need support in understanding the evolving workplace relations system. Employsure has worked with several leaders and managers to ease their stress and answer their burning questions about management and employment.

Call our 24/7 Advice Line today to get your questions answered.

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