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Leaders vs Managers

The fun topic for today is a regular discussion we have with clients and that is defining the difference between a leader and a manager. As an employee, we always wondered what the difference was between the two and the way most have explained it in the past is that it’s a hierarchical standard. A leader has to be a manager first and then they can move on to leadership. We have found that this is 100% not the case.

Another discussion we get involved in is leadership a trait you are born with or can learn. What we have found is that leadership is a choice that you make that you want to lead others. Some are born with leadership traits that serve them well, but it can be learned regardless. Either way, leaders and managers have a difference and we hope we cover some of the highlights below. 

Operations Business Strategy Planning | Leaders vs Managers

Leadership Definition

You need people around you in order to lead. You cannot define yourself as a leader if you are only directing yourself. You can lead your family, staff and peers, but you cannot lead only you. That’s on you!

Leadership is a lonely position where you regularly step into the unknown and ask others to join you. Then it is up to you to work with them to achieve a vision. Often people will want the title of a leader because they think it comes with some sort of privilege but what they miss almost every time is that the leader is usually the first one to always get blamed. They need to take a risk and then ask others to come along with them to see what happens.  

One of the key topics that a leader must be aware of is that you work for the staff around you, they don’t work for you. You need to lead by example and cannot ask others to follow you if you are not willing to do the work yourself. You must gain the respect of everyone around you, if you think that people are going to trust in your judgement. Again, leadership can be very lonely, not get recognition and are usually the first person to blame.  

Manager Definition

A manager will fall into a hierarchical chart in most organizations, where a leadership position is typically not labelled. A manager follows a set of guidelines or rules to achieve a task. They take direction and then give direction where needed. People that work around them have clear tasks to achieve and then production numbers deliver a result.

A manager is a very detailed oriented person that follows directions. The plan has been set to move forward. This is the biggest difference between a leader and manager. A leader will jump into something without a clear path created and a manager will follow a set of guidelines. Being a manager will typically have less risk associated with the position and the staff beneath them will see them as an authority position instead of someone of influence.  

Hopefully, this highlights some of the things to consider when you are trying to determine if someone is a manager or leader. A lot of characteristics between managers and leaders are intertwined, but the biggest thing to look for is how they approach business. Leaders will go off gut instinct and jump into unknown situations and ask others to follow and managers will wait for the plan before proceeding.  

Please reach out to us a Future to Now Consulting and speak with our team if you are looking for further clarification or want us to help in developing your team into leaders with our leadership coaching.