When you get promoted to the role of a manager, unfortunately, you don’t automatically become a leader. Although these two words can be used interchangeably, they represent two completely different traits.

Being a leader is much different than being a manager.

In this guide we will explore the 10 main differences between a manager and a leader.

But first, let’s define what each of them means.

What Is Management?

Management is the process of planning, organizing, directing, and controlling resources, such as people, finances, and materials, to achieve specific goals within an organization.

It involves:

  • setting objectives;
  • developing strategies;
  • allocating resources efficiently;
  • ensuring that tasks are completed effectively and on time.

Management typically includes functions like planning, staffing, leading, and controlling.

Good managers are skilled in decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and leadership. They focus on operational efficiency, implementing policies, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of an organization to ensure that goals are met

What Is Leadership?

Leadership is the ability to guide, influence, and inspire a group of people towards achieving a common goal.

It involves setting a vision, making decisions, and motivating others. Effective leadership requires skills like communication, decision-making, and emotional intelligence.

There are various leadership styles, each with its own approach to guiding and motivating people. These include:

  • autocratic;
  • democratic;
  • transformational;
  • transactional;
  • servant;
  • laissez-faire.

Good leaders are adaptable and can switch between these styles as needed, focusing not just on tasks but also on nurturing relationships and developing their team.

Top 10 Differences Between Manager and Leader

  1. Managers set goals but leaders set the vision. It is the leader’s job to turn the vision into reality. Leaders think beyond what people are capable of and try to make everyone part of something bigger.
  2. Managers usually think short term but leaders think long term. Leaders always look at the big picture and think about the next phase to set the direction towards the final goal.
  3. Managers maintain the status quo; leaders are in favor of change. Leaders must be innovative and should encourage transformation in an organization. They always look for better ways to improve the processes of a business.
  4. Managers don’t want to get out of their comfort zone, leaders take risks. Leaders are not afraid of trying out new things even though, they fail sometimes. Leaders don’t forget that failing is not the end but actually the beginning for a new path to success.
  5. Managers are process focused but leaders are people focused. Leaders always think about their teams and give importance to their growth because a good leader knows that once his/her team grows, the business grows too.
  6. Managers supervise their team but leaders coach them. Leaders don’t micromanage their team but instead guide them towards the vision when necessary.
  7. Managers are authoritative but leaders are charismatic. Leaders earn the respect of others with their charisma and make others follow them. That is why leaders have fans and managers have employees.
  8. Managers assign tasks but leaders encourage ideas. Leaders want the involvement of the whole team to the process and like to brainstorm new ideas or encourages people to always raise their opinions, if they get a better way of doing things.
  9. Managers are controllers and think with their brains but leaders are passionate and think with their hearts too alongside their brains. Leaders know the importance of the gut feeling and believe in their sixth senses.
  10. Managers do things right but leaders do the right thing. If leaders need to break and set new rules for a business, then, they don’t hesitate of doing it because leaders are open to change.

Similarities between Management and Leadership

Management and leadership, while distinct in their primary functions and approaches, share several similarities:

  1. Goal Orientation: Both management and leadership are focused on achieving specific objectives. Whether it’s a project deadline, a sales target, or a strategic milestone, both roles require a clear understanding of these goals and the ability to work towards them.
  2. Influence: Managers and leaders both need to influence their teams. Managers might do this through organizing resources and coordinating tasks, while leaders often inspire and motivate, but both roles require the ability to sway others’ actions and decisions.
  3. Decision Making: Both managers and leaders are involved in decision-making processes. They need to analyze information, consider the implications of various choices, and make informed decisions that will benefit their team or organization.
  4. Problem-Solving: Both roles require the ability to identify problems, think critically, and devise effective solutions. Whether it’s dealing with a personnel issue, a budget constraint, or a strategic challenge, both managers and leaders need to be adept problem solvers.
  5. Communication: Effective communication is crucial for both managers and leaders. This includes not only conveying information clearly and concisely but also listening to feedback and fostering open communication within the team.
  6. Team Development: Both roles involve working with teams and contributing to their development. This can include training, mentoring, and providing feedback to help team members grow and improve.
  7. Adaptability: The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and challenges is important for both managers and leaders. They must be able to adjust their strategies or approaches in response to new information or evolving situations.

While leadership often focuses more on setting the vision, inspiring, and guiding people towards long-term goals, and management is more about administering and ensuring the day-to-day operations align with these goals, both are integral to the success of an organization and often overlap in practice.


Understanding the difference between a manager and a leader is crucial for organizational success.

While management focuses on planning, organizing, and executing processes to achieve specific goals, leadership is about setting a vision, inspiring, and guiding people towards broader objectives.

Managers are often process-oriented, maintaining the status quo and focusing on efficiency, whereas leaders prioritize innovation, risk-taking, and personal development of their team members.

Despite these differences between manager and leader, both roles share essential skills like decision-making, problem-solving, and effective communication.

Ultimately, the most successful organizations recognize and value the distinct contributions of both managers and leaders, blending their unique strengths to achieve a harmonious and dynamic work environment.
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