The difference between a leader and a manager is in their focus. Leaders focus on creating a vision. Then, they inspire and encourage people to move there. Whereas managers focus on creating goals by controlling and directing people in the business to achieve them.
Before discussing the difference between a leader and a manager, let’s briefly discuss who is a leader and a manager.
Who is the leader?
Leaders are those who can inspire and influence people to get excited and move towards a set vision. They have a clear vision of what is good for the organization. They have integrity and are not afraid of failure.
A leader is also a good manager. They are not only good at motivating others. But, they also develop bonds and empathy with others to realize the vision. They develop vision-oriented tasks and jobs, allocate resources, and direct and control the business.
Leadership styles can vary from authoritarian and democratic to laissez-faire. Each has its pros and cons. So, each is needed for different situations and times. For example, an authoritarian style may be more effective when faced with a crisis than a democratic one. Leaders develop clear directions on what to do to resolve the crisis. They expect obedience from each individual to do what is ordered without deviation.
On the other hand, a democratic style may create confusion among subordinates. They don’t have a big picture of the company’s condition and don’t know what solutions to get out of the crisis. Or they may make decisions in an uncoordinated manner because each has some decision-making authority.
Who is the manager?
Managers are those who control and direct the business. They develop goals and focus on the task, encouraging everyone to work to achieve the set targets. They plan, lead, coordinate and control the resources in the business.
Managers rely on their position to gain cooperation and encourage compliance among subordinates. In addition, they are responsible for operations and running management processes.
Managerial positions can take the following positions:
- Top-level manager. They hold the highest positions in the company and are responsible for the direction of the company. They develop corporate targets to achieve and develop strategies at the corporate level. They may be the chief executive, finance director, marketing director, and operations director.
- Middle-level manager. They are responsible for top-level management as well as supervising several lower-level managers. They implement the plans and strategies developed by top-level managers. Then, they translate it into their work area by developing a tactical plan.
- Lower-level manager. They are people who are at the bottom of the chain of command. They report to middle-level managers. They are responsible for operating and supervising employees and their day-to-day activities. Foremen, section heads, or supervisors fall into this category.
What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
The difference between a leader and a manager can be seen in several aspects, ranging from their focus to how they manage people.
Managers are responsible for ensuring performance targets are met. They concentrate on short-term goals and what has been assigned to them. Their job is transactional by delegating and supervising subordinates, ensuring they achieve the set targets.
- Leaders develop a vision. They are long-term oriented and think ahead about what is best for the company. So, their work is transformational to find a better way forward.
Managers control and direct the business. They manage the company by planning, coordinating, commanding, and controlling.
- Leaders develop the business far ahead. They do not stick to existing processes. In fact, they may transform existing processes or even the company’s business to aligning with the established vision.
Managers rely on their position to run the company and get the cooperation of employees. They build authority.
- The leader inspires or drives people toward the built vision. They move people with their charisma or their personal qualities to motivate people. They build trust.
The manager is focused on the task. First, they design a set of tasks and work required to achieve the goal. Then, they ask people to hit the target.
- Leaders focus on people. They empower people to do work while giving them the freedom to develop and improve themselves.
Manager appointed. Usually, the appointment is based on their achievements and performance. Experience is another consideration. Skills are another factor, which can be trained through training or education. Their closeness to the leadership could also be a factor.
- Leaders are elected, perhaps through informal channels. Performance and experience may not be a consideration. Rather, their ability to build visions and inspire people to make them happen is a factor. Their personal abilities and qualities may come from their innate or long experience in going through failure and success.
More managerial positions require management, organizational, delegation, and administrative skills. They tend to adhere to agreed rules, procedures, and policies and act accordingly. In other words, they see it all as to be obeyed.
- Leaders demonstrate a strategic outlook by encouraging open thinking and promoting innovation and new ideas. They see the rules are not rigid but flexible as long as it fits their vision.
Managers focus on existing. They preserve the status quo and enforce the existing culture.
- Leaders focus on what is better. It may encourage them to challenge the status quo and develop a new, more appropriate culture. They become agents of change.