Leader Vs Manager

Leader Vs Manager

Leader and Manager – These are two terms that are often used interchangeably but have different meanings, roles and qualities. To understand these two terms, let’s first understand leadership and management. 

Let’s understand both terms in depth. 

Leadership and Management


Leadership is basically the potential to influence and drive people towards the accomplishment of goals. It is a skill developed over time to bring positive, non-incremental change through careful planning, vision and strategy. 

Unlike management, leadership has nothing to do with a position or role in an organization. However, true leadership involves certain traits, like charismatic personality, good communication, clear vision, focused mind and team building. It’s like a process of social influence, uniting people to serve a common goal together.


Management is about performing a set of tasks defined as part of the role with the subordinates. The responsibilities of a manager are usually outlined in a job description, where the primary focus of a manager is to achieve organizational goals. 

Further, a managerial role also comes with the authority and the privilege to hire, promote and reward subordinates/employees based on their behavior and performance. 

Leadership vs Management 

Leadership is a skill that doesn’t need any position. In other words, a leader doesn’t necessarily need to serve a managerial position to serve its purpose. 

On the other hand, management is a position that fulfills certain predefined tasks.In other words, a manager can only manage and fulfill their responsibilities if they are given the role in any community or organization. 

Further, a manager can truly fulfill their responsibilities only if they have good leadership skills. In short, a manager can be a good leader, but a good leader cannot necessarily be a manager. 

Leadership is about creating a vision for a group or community to follow, whereas management is looking after every operation and making people do a set of defined tasks as part of the team. 

A leader is someone who makes all the efforts to accomplish a goal or vision, whereas a manager tends to carry out important functions for the growth of their organization, including planning, organizing, leading, and controlling.

Characteristics of a Leader

  • Ability to create a vision
  • Leaders themselves know where they stand, where they want to go and tend to involve
  • They are honest and morally strong, so their community or followers believe and trust them. 
  • They should inspire people and help them understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Ability to communicate clearly. They should always keep their team/followers informed about what’s happening. 
  • Leaders are the risk-takers.
  • Ability to challenge the status quo. 

Characteristics of a Manager

  • Ability to execute a vision
  • Managers create a roadmap for their team to follow in order to achieve a company goal 
  • They should have the ability to direct and govern
  • They have the authority to set work rules, standards and processes
  • They are people-focused and should cater to the needs of their employees or subordinates. 
  • Managers avoid taking risks. 

Differences between leaders and managers 

  • Leader vs Manager: Role

A manager is a designated position in an organization, with specific responsibilities outlined in its structure. On the contrary, the term leader is more open-minded, arising from one’s actions that inspire others to excel. Whether or not you hold a title or position, if your actions and behavior motivate others to do their best, you embody leadership. 

  • Leader vs Manager: Vision 

Leaders are considered vision-oriented and futurists. They establish the path to boost the growth of their organization. Leaders consistently assess their organization’s current position, set future objectives, and strategize on achieving them by involving the team.

On the contrary, Managers are responsible for accomplishing organizational goals through the implementation of different processes like organization structuring, budgeting, and staffing. Their vision is intricately tied to the strategies they employ, involving brilliant planning and organization of tasks (strategizing, planning and organizing) to achieve the goals established by leaders.

  • Leader vs Manager: Approach

Managers rely on coordinated activities and strategized processes to achieve their goals. They divide long-term goals into short-term goals and organize and allocate available resources to attain the desired outcomes.

Leaders, on the contrary, are more focussed on guiding and shaping people on how to assign them work. To achieve this, leaders assist their followers or teams by showing them a  broader perspective of their role and how their efforts can help them achieve future growth. 

  • Leader vs Manager: Relation with people 

Managers are assigned team members and subordinates who report them for the tasks and outcomes they achieve. On the other hand, there are no formal team members or subordinates under leaders. People follow a leader with their own will. 

A manager, through their role and title, has the authority to ensure the tasks are completed. They need to adopt a more direct approach and focus on tactical activities to achieve goals. However, a leader may lack formal authority but gains followers through effective communication and behavior, motivating others to work towards shared goals. 





May not have formal authority, rely on inspiration and influence

Has formal authority, exercise control based on position and title


Vision, innovation and long-term goals

Efficiency, planning and short-term objectives

Approach to change

Embrace and drive changes, seek new opportunities 

Prefer stability, and may resist change for the sake of continuity.


Value collaboration and seek input from team members

Make decision independently, often based on rules and procedures

Motivational style

Inspire and motivate through shared vision and values

Motivate through rewards, incentives, and clear expectations

Communication stye

Communicates the “why”, emphasize inspirations and storytelling

Focus on the “what” and “how”, prioritize clarity and precision


Build strong personal relationships, values, trust and collaborations. 

Focus on maintaining formal relationships, emphasize structure. 


Take calculated risk, encourage innovation

Tend to be more risk-averse, prefer stability and predictability

Similarity between leaders and managers

While both leaders and managers have a lot of differences in what and how they do, there are some similarities as well:

  • Both leaders and managers are goal-oriented.
  • Play a crucial role in decision-making to make their teamwork. 
  • Both are involved in people management. 

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