Everyone likes to believe for themselves that they were born to be leaders, those who are „first“, whose word is valid and who is followed. However, leadership is not something you are born with (excluding for natural born leaders who are a rarity) but the skills that adorn leaders are acquired through time, practice, experience and education. The biggest difference between leaders and managers is that people follow leaders, and managers have people who work for them. The question is: are leaders and managers mutually exclusive or can they become professionals with the skills and qualities of both parties by learning from each other?
A manager is the part of an organization that is responsible for performing several management functions in a company: planning, organizing, leading, and supervising.
Being a manager does not mean that you cannot be a leader at the same time. However, becoming a leader is possible only if you perform managerial tasks with continuous cooperation, communication, motivation, encouragement and inspiration of employees so that they can be as productive as possible and achieve the best results.
Unfortunately, not all managers are leaders. Some managers have poor communication and leadership skills which leads employees to perform tasks for managers only because it is their duty, however they are not motivated or inspired to perform the same.
The main focus of managers is to meet the set organizational goals, and in addition to the responsibility to perform tasks, they also have responsibility for the actions of their subordinates.
The first visible difference between a leader and a manager is in a managerial position. A leader does not have to be in a managerial position or authority in an organization for people to follow him. A leader can be anyone, in any position.
Unlike managers, who are followed by employees for the sake of duty, leaders are followed because of their personality, character, charisma, and beliefs. The leader shows great motivation and passion for the job, which he tries to pass on to the rest of the team. The leader is very interested in the development of his colleagues, but he is also willing to help them achieve their own, and thus very often organizational goals. In simple terms – leaders influence people and inspire them to act! And while managers have short-term goals, leaders have a vision and long-term goals around which they bring people together.
As we have already said, managers are usually not leaders at the same time, but everyone would agree that managers would certainly be more successful in business if they developed leadership skills. Therefore, if you are a manager who is not sure if it is also a leader or who wants to become one, see below what skills you need to master:
- The way you assign tasks
Instead saying this: “I want you to do this and I want you to do it this way.”
Say this: “I have a great idea that we can turn into action if you are willing to be part of the team …”
- Method of planning
Instead of planning the details yourself and then just delivering them to the team members, try to gather those same team members and present the plan to them as follows: “I have a great idea that you will surely like …”.
- Attitude towards risk
Instead of trying to solve the problem in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible to avoid risk, take responsibility together and take a risk if you estimate it could pay off. The characteristic of managers is that they control risk while leaders take risks.
- Attitude towards team members
Let team members know that your door is always open to them if they have any concerns, problems, or dilemmas because leaders are aware that some member from the team has or can find the answers they need. Leaders also resist the temptation to tell their people what and how to do.
- Leaders have a vision, managers have goals
Leaders have the ability to see opportunities while inspiring and motivating their team in realizing that vision. In other words, they motivate people to become part of a “bigger story” because they are aware that teams that join forces can achieve more than individuals who act independently. Managers, on the other hand, are focused on setting, measuring, and achieving goals. They try to have the situation under control to make sure they achieve or perhaps even exceed their goals.
- Status quo
Don’t settle for the fact that something is done without major lapses but always see if you can do better or more significantly. Leaders therefore accept and advocate for change knowing that change opens up opportunities for the way forward. Managers most often adhere to what certainly works.
- Leaders create fans, managers have employees
Leaders have people who not only become their fans, but ardent promoters who help them build their brand and achieve their goals. People on their team help them increase visibility and credibility. Managers, on the other hand, have staff who follow instructions and strive to please their superiors.
As it can be concluded, there are many differences between leaders and managers. Both are very important in business – and when you find both traits in the same person, it’s like hitting a professional jackpot. No matter how you look at this characterization of leaders and managers, there are several qualities that every leader certainly possesses:
- The leader gives his team freedom of action and thinking
- Leaders are open and transparent
- Leaders get the best out of their team members
- The leader takes responsibility
- Leaders never give up, they always have a vision and a backup plan if the original plan fails
And you? Are you more of a leader or manager?