Leadership vs. Management: Understanding the Differences

The difference between leader and manager can be summarized this way: “When you are a leader, you work from the heart. As a manager, you work from the head.” Although it is probably more complex than that, the point to remember is the difference between what you do as a leader and what you do as a manager-and the constant need to be able to do both. Furthermore, the head and heart need to be partners, not independent operators.

A manager focuses attention on efficiency, effectiveness, and making sure the right things happen at the right time. For instance: You are in a manager role when you set performance objectives with staff, prepare budgets, review cash flow projections, develop action plans, and evaluate programs or fund raising strategies or any other aspect of the company. Managing may also include doing hundreds of other tasks that require focused and logical attention to the good health of the organization.

On the other hand, a leader is a strategist, a visionary, and some-one who inspire others to greatness. For example, you are leading when you share your vision for your organization, or when you bring staff and people together to design a program or develop a strategy or resolve a problem. Leaders motivate staff and people, serve as role models, inspire people to cooperate, build community and capacity inside and outside the organization, and create learning environments in which people can grow and develop themselves without fear.

Leaders follow their own intuition which may in turn be more benefit to the company. Their Followers are often more loyal to them. Managers do things by the book and follow company policy. Their Subordinates may or may not be loyal to them. A Leader in practical terms motivates others to do the task. A Manager in business terms ensures tasks are done through others.

Some people think of the words Manager and Leader and think they are the same. The two are related, but the jobs are different. They might look the same, but don’t mean the same. Both Manager and Leader have different responsibilities in an organization. Leader will influence and set example for others to follow, this is called “do as I do, and Manager is do what I say”. In real life, some Managers possess leadership qualities and some Leaders possess some managerial qualities. Managers and Leaders are two different kinds of characters. It’s not easy to see the difference because the qualities of Managers and Leaders are each combined in the same person.

But if ones observe the qualities in each person, one will know that Leaders and Managers are different because Manage tends to manage the work and rules, and Leaders deal with personal issues of people, and also know that a Leader does not have subordinates, a leader has followers. Sometimes societies and organizations need either a manager or a leader, or sometimes they need both managers and leaders. Their motivations, personal history, their way of thinking and attitude are different.

In short we can say,

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

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