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Managers vs Leaders

The terms "manager" and "leader" are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different roles and approaches within an organization. While both are important for the success of a team or company, they involve distinct sets of skills and responsibilities.

Here are some key differences between a manager and a leader:

Focus and Goals

managers talking

MANAGERS: are primarily concerned with achieving specific, measurable goals and objectives. Their focus is on the efficient use of resources, coordinating tasks, and ensuring that the team meets its targets.

LEADERS: are more focused on setting a vision and inspiring others to work towards common goals. They emphasize the "big picture" and may guide the team in a direction that aligns with the organization's values and long-term vision.

Approach to People

happy group of people

MANAGERS: often maintain a formal authority and control over their team members. They are responsible for directing and supervising employees' day-to-day tasks, ensuring deadlines are met, and performance is up to the required standards.

LEADERS: tend to lead by example and influence their team through inspiration and motivation. They may earn the respect and trust of their team members, encouraging them to go beyond their individual capabilities.


business team reading

MANAGERS: typically make decisions based on data and facts. They focus on making efficient choices that align with the organization's goals and objectives.

LEADERS: may rely on their intuition and emotional intelligence to make decisions. They may also be more open to taking calculated risks, especially if they believe it will lead to a better future outcome.

Communication Style

business meeting

MANAGERS: often communicate more formally and directly, giving instructions and feedback to employees to ensure tasks are completed efficiently.

LEADERS: tend to communicate more openly and engage in conversations that inspire and motivate their team. They may share the organization's vision and values to create a sense of purpose among employees.


people meeting

MANAGERS: are skilled at handling day-to-day operations and problem-solving within the existing structure and systems.

LEADERS: are more adaptable and open to change. They are willing to challenge the status quo and embrace innovation to drive progress.

Time Horizon

successful team

MANAGERS: usually work with a short-to-medium-term perspective, focusing on achieving immediate objectives and meeting deadlines.

LEADERS: often take a long-term view, looking beyond immediate goals and envisioning the future direction of the organization.

In summary:

Managers are responsible for efficiently running the current operations, while leaders focus on inspiring and guiding the team towards a shared vision and future success. However, a successful individual in a leadership position may combine qualities of both a manager and a leader, striking the right balance between short-term efficiency and long-term inspiration.


Ask yourself:

In each of the areas above to what extent are behaving as a Manager or a Leader?

What's the impact to you and your effectiveness operating that way?

How would you like to shift the way you are operating?

How will you get there?

Please share your thoughts or insights in the comments at the bottom!


As an executive coach, I work with leaders to transform their influence and impact on their organizations and the world. You can reach me at

Transformation transformational change agent thought leadership certified development coaching 360 qualitative assessments organization business corporate enterprise los angeles


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