Leader VS Manager

Updated: Sep 18, 2019


What separates a manager from a leader?



Within every aspect of any field, there are three roles of command which are managers, the leaders, and the leadership. I believe there are quite a few differences between the terms manager, leader, and leadership; however, the terms are often interchangeably in a discussion, when they, in fact, should not.


A manager can oversee a project, a program, staff, and are typically in an authoritative position. These individuals may also have subject matter expertise which has supported them in securing a role as a manager. They have the hard skills required to execute the function; however, they may find it challenging to lead due to a lack of soft skills that can come from formal education setting or on-the-job training. Managers are impactful on those that report to them because, if the manager does not have managing skills, they could lose assets such as labour, profit, and interest of stakeholders.


"Anyone can be a Leader"

The unique difference between a manager and a leader is that anyone can be a leader. A leader is someone that others are willing to follow. Leaders have a vision and sense to move forward rather than become stationary and complacent with the current status quo. These leaders also are comfortable being uncomfortable with the changes that they know would be required and are willing to make. A leader will then be able to support their followers in creating that change. An example of a leader can be an hourly staff person in a retail environment who brings forward an idea to change a standard operations practice. Also, leaders can take the form of a student in a classroom that has a vision that they share with their fellow peers during a presentation.

Leaders are comfortable with the unknown.

Leadership is an individual who is guiding a group or an individual who is ready to support and encourage that change. They have the ability to work in a team environment and seek out the common grounds and are comfortable with the unknown. They can grasp the concept of not always having or knowing the answers. They will lean on other’s expertise to solve problems and motivate others to reach a goal.


To become a great leader, an applicant would need to be able to accept that they do not have all the answers. As well, they need to be comfortable with taking on risk as they see that risk is a necessity to gain a return on investment. A leader will have others that are different from their values and experience within the process mapping to challenge the leader to explore all avenues to execute a well-formed plan. With a well-thought task initiated, if any problems surface, the leader has the proper tools/resources at ready to support the change.


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