Differences Between a Leader and a Manager

In Business and Marketing by Fathi Arfaoui0 CommentsLast Updated: March 14th, 2015

Thinking of managers and leaders, we directly think about their differences how the manager manages his team and how the leader leads his colleagues. By the way, going by the disadvantages and the advantages we can notice that the managers are less liked by their team, but, they are only respected however the leaders are the most liked cherished and have fans in their work.

Understanding the differences between leadership and management, it is not like the dictionary definition says guiding or controlling a group of people to achieve a goal.

Leadership is setting a new direction or vision for a group that they follow. Example: a leader is the spearhead for that new direction. On the other side, Management controls or directs people and resources in a group according to principles or values that have been established.

Managers cannot adapt to be like leaders, but, the vice versa is correct because the leaders can guide and handle a team with respect and conscience.

Differences between Leader and Manager

So, first of all, let us talk about their differences:

  • Counting value vs creating value: Managers count the value, the time is an important element to them.
  • Leaders consider the creativity to win challenges at work more than counting the value of time lost.
  • Circles of influence vs circles of power: is a good manager automatically a good leader? What is the difference between leadership and management?

The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people follow them, while managers have people who work for them, and obey them.

A successful business owner needs to be, both, a strong leader, and manager to get their team on board to follow them toward their vision of success. Leadership is about getting people to understand and believe in your vision, and to work with you to achieve your goal’s.

Managing is more about administering and making sure the day-to-day are happening as they should. While there are many traits that make up a strong leader, some of the key characteristics are:

  1. Honesty and integrity, are crucial to get your people to believe you, and buy into the journey you are taking them on.
  2. Vision: know where you are, where you want to go and enroll your team in charting a path for the future.
  3. Inspiration: inspire your team to be all they can by making sure they understand their role in the bigger picture.
  4. Ability to challenge: do not be afraid to challenge the status quotes, do things differently, and have the courage to think outside the box.
  5. Communication skills: keep your team informed of the journey, where you are, where you are heading, and share any roadblocks you may encounter along the way.

Some of the common traits shared by strong managers are:

Being able to execute a vision: take a strategic vision and break it into a road-map to be followed by the team.

Ability to direct: day-to-day work efforts, review resources needed and anticipate needs along the way.

Process management: establish work rules, processes, standards and operating procedures.

People focused: look after your people, their needs, listen to them and involve them, in order for you to engage your staff in providing the best service to your customers, guests, clients, or partners. You must enroll them in your vision and align their perceptions and behaviors. You need to get them excited about where you are taking them while making sure they know what’s in it for them.

With smaller organizations, the challenge lies in making sure you are both, leading your team, as well as managing your day-to-day operation. Those who are able to do both will create a competitive advantage. Are you both a leader and a manager, what would your staff say if you were to ask them?

So, going to leadership without management is like riding a care without wheels. There can be leaders who don’t manage in the workplace. For example, an entrepreneur might grow a business by building relationships, and generating ideas for new products. However, he might also rely on deputy, to ensure the right staff is recruited, products or services are produced, and the business is delivered.

Management without leadership controls resources to maintain the status, or ensure things happen according to already-established plans. For example, a sports referee manages opposing teams to ensure they keep within the rules of the game. However, a referee does not usually provide “leadership” because there is no new change, no new direction.


The absence of leadership should not be confused with the type of leadership that calls for ‘no action’ to be taken. For example, when Gandhi went on hunger strike, and called for protests to stop, during the negotiations for India’s independence, he demonstrated great leadership – because taking no action was a new direction for the Indian people at that time.

Also, what is often referred to as “participative management” can be a very effective form of leadership. In this approach, a new direction may seem to emerge from the group rather than the leader.

However, the leader has facilitated that new direction whilst also engendering the ownership within the group – i.e. It is an advanced form of leadership.

Managers have a position of authority vested in them by the company, and their subordinates work for them and largely do as they are told.

Management style is transactional, in that the manager tells the subordinate what to do, and the subordinate does this not because they are a blind robot, but, because they have been promised a reward for doing so.

Managers are paid to get things done, often within tight constraints of time and money. They naturally pass on this work focus to their subordinates.

Seek Comfort: An interesting research about managers is that they tend to come from stable home backgrounds, and led relatively normal and comfortable lives. This leads them to be relatively risk-averse and they will seek, to avoid conflict where possible. In terms of people, they generally like to run a “happy ship”.

Leaders have Followers

Leaders do not have subordinates, at least, when they are leading. Many organizational leaders do have subordinates, but, only because they are also managers. But, when they want to lead, they have to give up formal authoritarian control, because to lead is to have followers, and following is always a voluntary activity.

They are usually charismatic characters, they have a transformational style, they get people focus easily, and they get them to do the work with enthusiasm and love. They seek adventure and risk, they are mostly guided to success, they never take credits to their selves, but, they always give it to the team.

As a final conclusion, success needs to get the partnership between a manager and a leader. So, to have the reward that you want and to achieve your goal you have to be a leader-manager out of common to get the respect, and the love of you co-workers.

Fathi Arfaoui: A Physicist, Blogger, and the founder and owner of He shares Business, Blogging, WordPress, Web Safety, and Blogging tips to build better websites and blogs. Also, he shares online marketing strategies and recommendations.

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