Manager vs. Leader - What’s the Difference?

Posted on Thursday, June 15, 2017 by The AnalystNo comments

In the minds of many people, the words ‘manager’ and ‘leader’ are interchangeable. After all, both words denote people in positions of power, with the responsibility for supervising and directing a team of people.

But actually, there’s a big difference between management and leadership. So what does it mean to be a manager, and what does it mean to be a leader? As an experienced London recruitment agency, we’ve seen the difference, so let’s take a look at the distinguishing features of both roles.

Managers tell, leaders sell

By definition, a manager is someone who tells subordinates what to do. They’re the ones who provide instructions and orders for each member of staff, all of which help move the team towards an end goal. By contrast, leaders sell ideas. Rather than simply instructing people what to do, they communicate their vision and encourage people to get behind it. It’s a subtle but important difference.

Managers are reactive, leaders are proactive

Managers must always be ready to react to situations that may occur, helping to coordinate the entire team’s response. Leaders, on the other hand, are proactive. If a manager’s job is to foresee change and react appropriately, a leader’s task is to force and influence the kind of change that will improve a workplace.

Managers are results-focused, leaders are achievement-focused

Managers tend to look more at cold, hard results. They set appropriate milestones and targets for their team, and they’re the ones who analyse and interpret the performance of their workforce. Leaders tend to be more focused on the journey towards achievement – constantly inspiring and motivating people to make progress, and helping them celebrate each small milestone of their own.

Managers rely on control, leaders rely on trust

If a manager is no longer in control of his or her team, they’re not doing their job properly – their role involves being able to command their group with authority. Leaders are more focused on trust. They trust their team to get the job done, and in return, the team place their trust in their leader.

Developing management and leadership skills

Managers and leaders have a lot of overlapping skills, with subtle differences between the two. Leadership is a very desirable trait in employees nowadays, but the ability to efficiently manage and supervise is also coveted. To develop your management or leadership skills, you first need to look at which option your skills and abilities are more aligned with.

If you consider yourself to be level-headed, realistic, and practical, with an emphasis on efficiency and results, it’s likely that you’d make a better manager than a leader. If you’re a visionary who engages in lateral thinking and is more interested in progress than process, leadership seems to be more your style.

For more tips on improving your leadership or management styles, or to find top office manager or head of department jobs in London, keep following the Love Success blog!


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