“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” – Stephen Covey. 

Difference between a leader and a manager

There’s a thin line between leaders and managers (Leadership and Management). While both the terms are used interchangeably, they are, in actuality, different. What do you think is the main difference? While there are many which are listed below, the one with a striking contrast is that people follow leaders while managers have people working under them. One can be a manager and a leader, or maybe one or the other.  

Let’s check out the difference between a leader and a manager: 

Differences in Approach 

Leaders from all walks of life are seen as achievers, dreamers, and visionaries. They pave the way for the organization to prosper and grow. They take a holistic approach to achieve their goals by considering the competitive landscape vis-à-vis where the organization stands in the market. Then they plan out a strategy to surge ahead and define ways to reach the desired goal by taking along the team. 

If we look at managers in an organization, the goals that have been set are implemented by them by closely looking at the nuts and bolts required in the process; be it budgeting, recruiting, and putting into action the marketing plans. Managers work closely with the leaders to understand what they need to do to achieve the organizational goals. A cooperative association is required between leaders and managers to achieve the organization’s desired results and smooth functioning. 

 Organizing vs. Streamlining 

Leaders are known for networking and aligning themselves with influencers to advance their organizational objectives. Leaders also know how to delegate responsibilities to their colleagues and who is fit for which task. They know how to take people along with them and provide them with the necessary empowerment to carry out functions for growth and sustainability. 

Managers work towards achieving the goals with tactically coordinated tasks as per discussed strategy with their leadership team. A long-term plan is often broken down into smaller achievable tasks with available resources and thoughtful planning to get the desired outcome. 

Differences in Queries 

A key difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader always asks questions with regard to organizational growth, which is why and what. A leader is always looked up to and is expected to stand up to all situations. They are expected to be a problem solver and is supposed to analyze the ins & outs of all business decisions. 

Managers are supposed to manage the strategic tasks assigned and usually do not question why and how. They are supposed to accept the prevailing situation and attempt to handle the tasks given to them smartly. They generally do not attempt to change or question the system. 

Followers vs. Reporters 

Any leader in any organization always has followers who look up to them. People look to their leader for inspiration, ideas, hope, direction, and motivation. People always place their trust in and follow in the footsteps of the leader.  

Managers in an organization have people reporting to them. They have a task force that carries out their orders to implement activities aimed at organizational growth. In the process, they also get evaluated by their manager. There might be times when the employees might agree or disagree with their manager, though they would attempt to meet their managers’ expectations. 

Dynamism vs. Status Quo 

Leaders are adaptable to changes and quickly mould themselves to any circumstance. They live with a notion of innovating constantly and believe in continually optimizing to keep evolving with changing dynamics. Even when things are doing well, they have this penchant for optimizing. 

Manager in a corporate set-up follows set techniques and strives to constantly work on their efficiency to be productive for the organization. Managers are not known to be risk-takers and always prefer to tread on a safe path. They prefer to work on an existing and well-laid track that they fine-tune as they move along. 

People vs. Process 

Leaders are always considered to be relationship builders and great networkers who cherish their interactions with their clients to build long-standing relationships. They connect with everyone they interact with on a personal level. They always promise what they can deliver and live up to it. This helps in maintaining the relationships firmly with all the stakeholders as well as their clients.  

Managers depend on the systems to get the desired goal. They typically work on optimizing the available resources to get the wanted outcome. They have a team of efficient people to work towards achieving the desired goals and results.  

Risk-taker Vs. Risk Averse 

Leaders are risk-takers. They are not afraid to walk any unknown path and be their followers’ torch-bearers. Leaders are not selected; they are elected. It is the people who decide to give this status.  

Managers are the ones who try to avoid any risk. They are responsible for the smooth functioning of the business and ensure that the job is done without any obstacles. They must be conscious of risk management processes. 


So, what’s your take? To be a good leader or a good manager? Well, it all depends on the type and nature of the organization. While a managerial type of leadership will be more suited to a traditional industry, transformational leadership will be more suitable for a dynamic industry. And both managers and leaders are essential for every organization. Call us at +91 99510 53333 or write to us at enspiresales@vestrics.in to find out more about how effective an organization can be managed. Visit https://enspirehr.com/organizational-management/ to know more on this.  

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