Although they are often used interchangeably, the words “manager” and “leader” are very different from one another.
Leaders have people that follow them, managers have people who work for them. A manager may be a good leader, and a leader may be a good manager, but this is not necessarily so. There are leaders who make terrible managers, even if they do have a huge and loyal following, and there are managers who don’t have any leadership skills.
But how to tell them apart?
Here are some key differences between managers and leaders:
- Telling vs Selling
A manager is somebody who tells people what they must do and expects them to perform the tasks they are given in a timely manner and up to company standards. A leader on the other hand is somebody who sells an idea to others and hopes that they feel inspired to follow him.
- Planning the Details vs Setting the Direction
Planning the details of any task is something that a manager must do. He schedules meetings at specific times and dates and sets up clear agendas, so everybody is kept in the loop. A leader knows how to read the mood and is ready to inspire his people when he feels like they need it. He is great at reminding everybody what they are all working towards and knows how to keep that thought constantly present on peoples’ minds.
- Minimizing Risks vs Taking Risks
A manager must be able to minimize risks. With so many variables and unexpected situations that exist in any organization, a manager has to keep their team on the right track while trying not to stray too far from the set course. A leader knows that there is no clear path to where they want to take their people and is not afraid of taking risks in order to get there.
- Instructing vs Encouraging
Rigid instructions and setting limits to worker’s creativity are part of a manager’s toolbox. After all, managers are tasked with ensuring that the job gets done as efficiently as possible, and thinking outside the box can lead to delays, failures, and extra costs. Leaders embrace this uncertainty and encourage their followers to offer suggestions and feedback that will ultimately make the grand vision more concrete and better for all.
- Objectives vs Vision
Managers want to get things done. They usually have clear objectives and indicators that tell them what needs to be done and how fast they must deliver these results. When you contrast this with a leader’s vision you can see that objectives are great for the short term, but without a grand view and even utopian concepts it is very hard to inspire people to follow you.
- Problems vs Opportunities
A manager is often worried about the problems that exist and try to anticipate the problems that may arise in the future. This goes back to the “minimizing risk” mindset mentioned before. A leader instead sees opportunities at every step of the way. There is always a lesson to be learned, a new path that can be taken, or an idea that can be integrated into their grand vision.