Leader vs. Manager: Learn About the Difference

A few years ago, leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators created companies, whereas managers were hired to run their operations. But, nowadays, you will notice that our educational system is mostly geared towards management education. Also, there is a perceptual change that treats both management and leadership as the same, which is not a mere reality. So, in this leadership vs management article, we will dig deep into the differences between leadership and management.

Basic Differences

A leader is a person who directs, guides and influences the behavior of his followers towards the attainment of specific goals. A manager is a representative of the organization responsible for the management of the work of a group of employees and takes requisite actions whenever required.

SIMON SINEK: Leader verus manager

Why is it important to understand the difference between leader and manager?

It is important to know the difference between leader and manager because a successful organization needs both leaders and managers. For them to work together, they need to know their particularities. Leaders motivate and encourage people to pursue a vision, while managers plan and coordinate activities to achieve goals. Leaders have people following them towards their vision, while managers have employees working for them and control the daily operations. You can be a leader based on your qualities, but you become a manager by getting that position in the organization.

Many people view all managers as leaders, but not all leaders as managers. It is true because strong managers need to be leaders and inspire their subordinates to achieve their objectives. They need to enroll their employees in the companys vision and manage day-to-day operations and planning.

Leaders vs. managers: the differences

Here are the differences between leaders and managers:


Leaders have a vision and share it with their people. They inspire people to participate in making that vision a reality. They dont only consider what individuals can do. They believe that more can be achieved by working together. Managers set, measure and accomplish goals. They focus on controlling situations to reach or overachieve their goals.


A leader influences peoples behaviors and leads them to accomplish certain things for the organizations interest willingly. A manager executes the five functions of management: planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.


Leaders are comfortable being different and want to stand out. They usually do the necessary work to create their unique brand. Managers repeat learned behaviors. They choose a type of leadership that already exists rather than creating it.


Managers apply methods that are currently working to succeed. They may adapt systems, modify processes and structures to achieve their objective but are satisfied once it is completed.

Leaders innovate. They consider that even methods that are working now could be better in the future. Once they complete a project, they might analyze it retrospectively to identify potential areas for improvement.

Attitude towards change

Managers react to change while Leaders create change. Leaders know and embrace the fact that change can be disruptive.

Approach to risk

Managers do everything to control and keep risk to a minimum. They try to avoid issues while leaders embrace them. Leaders like to try something new and are not afraid to fail.


Leaders inspire people and motivate them to work toward the organizations success. One of the main characteristics of a leader is this ability to encourage others. Managers control people or entities to achieve an objective. They prepare planning and make sure their team does the necessary.

Company culture

Managers respect the existing culture, while leaders create or transform it.

New ideas

Managers usually rely on their existing qualities and repeat what worked for them in the past. They improve the skills they already have and recreate successful behaviors. Leaders consistently try to increase their knowledge and stay curious. They look for new information and people that can help stretch their ideas.

Exercise of power

Managers exercise authority over people while leaders develop it with people and motivate them. Leaders try to keep people positive and welcome feedback.


Managers have employees who follow instructions and try to satisfy them. They lead by authority. People follow them because it is implied in the job description. Leaders have fans who promote them and help them build their brand. People follow them voluntarily because they are inspired.

Coach vs. direct

Managers give directions while leaders coach. Managers direct people, give assignments to their team and tell them how to achieve them. Leaders trust their peoples potential. They dont hesitate to ask questions to their team members and encourage them. They believe that their team is competent enough to know what to do or find solutions when necessary.

Way of thinking

Managers think short-term while leaders think long-term. Managers work on their goals and look for regular approval. They are usually task-oriented and want to complete assignments. Leaders consistently work toward distant goals, even without receiving encouragement. They often delegate the tasks and trust those they entrusted.


Managers are work-focused and create processes, while leaders are people-focused and create relationships. Managers build the systems they need to achieve their objectives. They focus on the analytical side of the business and know how to distribute work. Leaders focus on people. They care about them and want them to succeed. They invest time in stakeholders that can help them achieve their vision.


Leaders create value while managers measure it. Leaders may decide to distribute parts of an assignment to different team members, including themselves. This attitude can contribute to creating additional value for the organization. Managers, on the other hand, ask for reports on the work accomplished to measure it. The time involved in the report creation is taken away from work itself and may subtract value.

Influence vs. power

Leaders dont hesitate to advise those who ask, even if they are not part of their team. They create circles of influence, and even people who dont report to them see them as leaders. On the other hand, managers create circles of power where only their subordinates are following their instructions.


What is difference between leader and manager?

The main difference between leaders and managers is that leaders have people follow them while managers have people who work for them. A successful business owner needs to be both a strong leader and manager to get their team on board to follow them towards their vision of success.

What is difference between leader and manager with example?

A leader takes charge, is influential, and sets an example. The manager has responsibilities and is able to delegate and implement plans. A leader is an example for others and is someone who doesn’t necessarily have a large responsibility. Managers have subordinates who follow their rules.

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